As I enter the supermarket I am reminded of the wise words of Jean-Paul Satre :“l’enfer, c’est les autres”, but Satre, I feel, had never been to a supermarket. The supermarket is not a place of refuge. The perfectly temperate, artificially scented air soothes my senses, but enrages my soul. In every aisle is a reminder of my inner turmoil; wherever I reach I am met only with pain and humiliation…
I am distracted from my list by a sign. “Two For One on pulses”. Two For One. In my mind I see Daisy. Me, and Daisy. The only two pulses that ever need to be together. Two For One. Two hearts pulsing side by side. Why doesn’t she find me? Can’t she see what I’ve built? Doesn’t she revere all that I’ve become? The packets stare out at me. Row beyond row. Each uniformly presented without even attempting to break away, but what need have pulses to break away? Grain after grain – each surrounded by myriad familiarity, surrounded by welcoming togetherness. Their concerns are trivial; they can’t understand. Every lentil mocks my despair.
I move away, leaving their recycled plastic city untouched – I cannot face their tiny, smug countenance. I am confronted with a wall of bottles, an insurmountable, titanic testament to the void in my soul. The place where love should gambol is filled with liquor to numb my isolation. I pick up the nearest bottle of Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien. Never my preferred choice, but fate is a cruel mistress. The embossed vermillion boasts of a full-bodied, mellow sweetness. Oh the pitiful irony! That a body so full could make a man so empty! The only full-body I could ever need is Daisy. And yet, she does not register my pain. I may never know her full-body; I may be left eternally in the bodiless wasteland of solitude. I put the bottle back, like the traitor it is. How could the marketing department not have known that such torment could arise from something so inane? How could they lie so? It makes me want to tear the labels off every bottle in a bestial fit of anger!
And so I am left with only a lonely square of gorgonzola to lucidify my dreams and the reluctant bottle of gin, clad in green glass. A fitting colour. It reaches out to me like the green light at the end of her jetty. Ever present, yet ever distant. A beacon of hope, and a cruel, cruel taunt.
I move swiftly to the check-out. The steely eyes of the cashier penetrate my soul. He is judging me. Can he feel my sorrow? Does he know where I’ve come from? I can feel a bristling shame rise within me.
Each electronic sound reverberates in my mind, pierces my wary soul and jars me to my core. But the prying cashier carries on staring.
“Do you have a club card, sir?”
Oh good God! Of what club does he speak? Is it so exclusive that I must be invited?! Is this cashier trying to humiliate me? How could I have misjudged the social faux-pas of grocery shopping so disastrously?! How could I have missed such a crucial detail? How could I ever be allowed to rejoin elite society? I have fallen at the first hurdle. There is a gaping hole in my identity. I have failed. All the clubs I’ve joined, all the achingly time-consuming membership forms, all the tennis lunches and all the parties, and I still neglected one!
I cannot stay here any longer. The unbridled shame which seeks to envelop me… (that’s quite enough of that – ed.)