I hadn’t really noticed
You had stopped calling
Or coming around
Until a mutual acquaintance
Mentioned you were struggling
With unspecified issues.
I was curious, or course,
But didn’t really ask much
Or follow up in any way,
Because I have other things
weighing on my mind.
I don’t worry too much
about your health,
job security or children.
I haven’t checked to see how
your business is doing.
I am confident your life is flourishing,
Though it sometimes seemed like disaster.
No, I’ve forgotten that I once relied
heavily on your trust and confidence
while fretting constantly over your
well-being and safety. When I have
some success or crushing failure,
I no longer immediately think to call you,
at least to the best of your knowledge.*
Some of us get lost in details.
Minutiae absorb our minds.
I could never,
perhaps because I never wanted to,
find myself so lost in statistics,
dates, patterns, smells, and materials.
I never really cared who signed what and when
or what colours were used in any particular year.
I didn’t have the focus.
Anyone who ever tried to teach me
complained that my mind wandered off,
and I could not be present.
So, I envy the others who are so lost
in learning and remembering exactly
what shades of blue were in use in 1872.
They seem so untroubled as they delight
over the 1919 edition they found on Ebay for
only $35, less than dinner at a mediocre restaurant.
They get such pleasure from harmless hobbies,
while I stay shackled in the torture room,
collecting nothing but my own thoughts
of eternal suffering presaged by infinite dread.
You would open the door to mingling aromas
of coffee, toast, perfume, and disinfectant.
After the shock of the olfactory assault,
You’d see a few toys to attract the kids
alongside perfume and various toiletries
to attract their moms. Three aisles
pretty much stretched the length of the store.
Items became more personal as you made your
way to the back. After the toys and toiletries,
you’d find grooming products, followed by
over the counter medications, with “feminine”
products, haemorrhoid creams, and laxatives
at the absolute end of the aisle. To get condoms
or prescriptions, you’d have to go to the counter
that stretched across the back of the store.
These were the earliest days of the birth control pill,
and it was only purchased in silence with no hint
given to prying bystanders that the customer at
the counter might be in search of childless sex.
To the left of the three aisles of products, you
would find two fairly comfortable booths,
big enough for six people to slide in,
three on either side with room to read a paper
or magazine while eating breakfast or lunch.
Behind the booth was a long counter with
bolted barstools inviting a brief reprieve,
but not comfortable enough to encourage lingering.
Behind the counter, you’d find the usual:
Soda fountain, griddle, toaster, sandwich counter.
You could get a standard assortment of bacon, eggs,
toast, coffee, soda, grilled cheese, or maybe a tuna sandwich.
No one complained about the menu. People rarely
complained, except to get a rise out of the soda jerk,
just for amusement and to pass the boredom.