At this point in my life, I don't actually think there's anything available in a drug or grocery store that I'd be embarrassed to take to the register.
Seriously. I've bought plenty of things that might make people twitchy: Condoms. Dipping tobacco. Ovulation tests. Pregnancy tests. Sperm-friendly lube. Fiber powders. Laxatives. Stool softeners. Preparation H.
I just can't think of other products that might embarrass me. In fact, the last time I can remember being embarrassed checking out of a store was a couple years ago at a Trader Joe's.
And along these lines, it wouldn't have occurred to me that anything could shock me at the register either.
So last week, I found myself standing behind a man buying three cartons of Marlboros. And two giant bottles of Pepto Bismol.
The cashier said, "$210.37."
At which point I got really interested. Seriously? That much? And who knew they made Pepto Bismol in what practically look like liter bottles?
The man pulled out a large wad of cash. His hands were shaking severely, but he managed to give her two $100 bills. And then, pile of cash in hand, he kept checking his various pockets for the rest of the money.
It was a long process. I was starting to think I was going to be there all day. But I was also rather interested in the scene.
Does he always carry big wads of cash? Does he really smoke that much? What's the deal with the Pepto Bismol?
She eventually reached across the counter and took a $10 bill and a $1 bill out of his hand, telling him as she was doing so. I was so grateful. It was painful to watch him struggle. I couldn't imagine him counting out 37 cents.
She double-bagged his purchase, and then he kept asking for more and more bags. I think he had at least four or five by the time she turned her attention to me.
What does he need with all those bags?
He was still puttering around as I was getting ready to walk out.
I told Nick about this very heavy smoker. He said not to be naive; the man clearly does crack, and crack tears up your stomach and gives you instant diarrhea.
The cigarettes? Probably to calm him and his cronies. The bags? No speculation.
He said it so authoritatively that I totally believed him. Even though I know for a fact that his only real-life experience with crack is watching David do crack with the crazy hitchhiker on Six Feet Under.
But I don't have a better theory.