My husband would always go to the supermarket on a Wednesday after two o’clock but before three, the time when it’s quietest, he believes. He would always grab his blue corduroy jacket, paired with red trainers. I tell him it’s a sorry sight and he would spout some nonsense about not giving into society’s idea of how things should look. As if I’m not telling he just looks ridiculous.
‘You forget anything, Brian?’ I make sure to sound surprised when he rifles through his pockets looking for the car keys, the wallet he left on the kitchen table, the shopping list I told him to keep hold of whilst I went in the shower. He’s always losing or forgetting something and it’s usually right in front of him.
My job is item pickup; his is trolley-pusher. It gives him ample opportunities to stare at the cashier our local Tesco hired weeks ago – she works on Wednesdays – till seven. Brian’s lucky number. He’s a sucker for baby-doll eyes and brunettes, so when brunette 13 going on 30 pulls up on till seven, I have clean up on aisle three.
‘Babe, what do you fancy for dinner?’
The way his head whips round is the funniest thing to me. The dear-in-headlights look in his big green eyes is the icing on the cake. This is the second time already he’s slipped up and we’ve only been in the supermarket about ten minutes. It’s so hard not to laugh at him, is that mean of me? He tells me he fancies shepherd’s pie for dinner and I nod in agreement all the while thinking that it’s not the only thing he fancies. I ask him to grab two bottles of tomato sauce while I wander through the meat aisle. A few minutes later I find him studiously eyeing each row of neatly placed glass bottles and sachets, squatting and slightly hunched over. He reminds me of those animal documentaries he likes to watch. He stands up when he hears laughter and playfully flicks my forehead when he sees the two bottles of tomato sauce in my hands.
‘Alright show off. We can’t all have X-ray vision like you, you know,’ he quips. I want to tell him that X-ray vision doesn’t help you read labels but I have a shock in store for him later so I decide not to.
‘But this aisle is practically empty,’ I say to him when I purposefully walk in the direction of till 11.
‘You know seven is my lucky number, maybe we’ll get a deal on the beef. Plus it’s closer to the exit, which means less huffing and puffing for me,’ he says as he starts unloading the mince onto the conveyor belt. I’m biding my time waiting for the cashier to finish with the customers in front of us.
‘Hi, nice day it is today, isn’t it?’ Brian says all smooth – it’s so out of character.
‘Hey, Mr. Sinclair, yes it is. Got any plans for the day?’ says the cashier in that phony work voice anyone in customer service gets over time. I’m surprised she has it down to a T.
‘Aren’t you hot in that jacket? I’m sweating bullets in this shirt.’
Brian started wearing that jacket a few weeks ago when she said it suited him. I love how easy he is. I start packing away the stuff while they continue their polite conversation, deliberately avoiding the six pack of beer I’ve put on the counter. I’ve packed up nearly all of the shopping by the time Brian finally picks up the beer.
‘Hey, Hun, since when do you drink beer?’
‘Oh, I saw a poster outside as we walked in. Apparently, if you cook this beer with the mince it’s really nice. Thought we could give it a try,’ I say before directing my attention to the cashier, ‘you ever tried the beer and mince… Savannah?’ It seems the manager still has made her one of those metal or plastic name tags yet. She got a sticky label on her shirt with Savannah scrawled in cutesy handwriting and hearts.
‘Oh, I’m not allowed to drink yet.’
In the corner of my eye, I can see Brian puzzled face. ‘Yet?’ I ask.
‘I seventeen. Eighteen next week,’ she says, smiling up at me.
‘Seventeen? My goodness I thought-’
‘I was older? Yeah, I get that a lot. I’ve heard it’s nice, though,’ she chuckles and I pretend to look surprised. You can tell from a mile away that the girl was even eighteen yet. Well, I could tell. Brian, on the other hand, has gone scarlet by the time we’ve reached the car.
‘You okay, babe? You’ve gone bright red.’ I look up at him, mock concern plastered on my face. He looks away from me saying that it’s the heat and takes off his jacket. He barely says a word until dinner.
I love him really.