I am trying to find a birthday present for a girl I am in love with, and I am having a difficult time. It is difficult for me to stay in any store for more than ten minutes, tops. And forget online shopping, the constant ads and unwanted videos have forced me to find refuge in some sylvan corner of my mind.
The girl I am in love with has many problems. Tammy only had one problem at first, and it was a problem I had too, but we would go on benders together, sometimes on the weekends, sometimes for several days. I have never met someone so easily reachable, the way she shed her skin and let me know everything inside of her. It was beautiful; she was beautiful. In a disastrous way. I now know the extent of her problems, and that she sells herself on Craigslist and Tinder to support those problems; that when she spends a week living in my apartment, it is because business is lagging.
And this is why I slowly back out of Target, because I wanted maybe a stuffed animal and chocolates or the yoga mat she talks about, but I walked into Target and the first sensation to hit me was the overwhelming, profuse scent of buttery, buttery warm popcorn. There is no reason for a grocery/clothing/miscellany store to sell popcorn as soon as you walk in.
But I can’t blame Target for getting their money’s worth, but I still can’t do it, because the warm popcorn gets me settled and comfortable and I want to browse without worry and I only think about Tammy and how she called my mother to wish her a happy birthday. Tammy was absolutely perfect until she stopped living in my apartment, sleeping at her own, calling me middle of the night sobbing needing me and I run over there and she won’t let me in. Is someone else here? No, it’s the TV, I think I’m going straight to bed to sleep this off, thanks for checking on me.
It’s even difficult to go grocery shopping because I’m told constantly told the entire grocery chain is somehow my community made up of my neighbors who share my concerns and know my name and my house and who my parents are, and I have no clue how the Albertson Corporation considers itself such a wonderful place for neighbors to congregate, but I always buy my food from their grocery stores, and when I finally get out finding myself ramming the grocery cart into the nicest car nearby.
Because I also don’t understand how a Prius can turn me into an adventurous pioneer of the American West when I absolutely have no time because of work to pay the lease on the stupid car that has difficulty getting over speedbumps. But I do understand why Tammy spent exactly 53 days living in my apartment and going out of her way to connect with me and make me happy and make love to me because I was the sort of man she’d been desperately searching for her entire 23 years of life….
I drive between stores and malls in silence with the radio off, because the moment a billion-dollar-profit, public university hospital tells me they’re dedicated to improving lives through advanced research and spectacular customer-service I want to plow my car into the store-front windows of a McDonald’s, aiming for the fucking Ronald clown and his crew of child-luring diabetic fuzzy-things.
And if I’m hurt or vulnerable or sad I know I can knock on Tammy’s door and she’ll let me in. She’ll hold me and stroke my hair, and tell me she loves me needs me It’s Okay, Sweety, and we’ll blow molly and she’ll let me make love to her, sad, pathetic, desperate, self-deceiving love. And then I’ll call her everyday for the next week but she’s always too busy to get lunch because she currently has a forty-year-old father of two who’s paying her rent this month.
I haven’t voted in the election because of Tammy. What am I supposed to do? What am I to make of President and VP photo-op jogging in solidarity with obesity? For Christ’s fucking sake, what am I to think of Bush reading to kindergartners the morning Manhattan went to billowing clouds of Trade Center rubble?
This is what Tammy has done to me, 53 days of painting herself with my dreams, opening every inch of herself to me, selflessly, seemingly, dedicating herself to my needs and fears a complete manipulation of my perceptions and opinions; furtive, psychological, emotional deception, manipulation of what I thought was real, honest, true and she does this to dozens of men, all the time, she is currently staying with me because she’s been evicted.
I give up and go to Walmart, just resignation, laughing to myself, and my laughing echoes out of me at the autistic woman making $8.50/hr to greet people at Walmart, the big plaque on the wall commemorating Walmart’s on-going dedication to whatever they gave a million dollars to. I buy Tammy a baseball bat and seven livers from the meat department; I schedule her an appointment to see Walmart’s optometrist (she has 20/20); she’s going to love the fucking shit out of these Fourth of July lawn decorations and the pallet of Pepsi One that has only ONE CALORIE per can and absolutely nothing else. And I’m paying for all of this, even the three random Bridgestone tires and the cart of pool toys, all on my credit card, the one I have from JP Morgan Chase that says Freedom on the front in big, clear, satisfying letters.