All I wanted was a sandwich.
I had taken a number at the deli section of the grocery store and I was waiting for it to be called.
That’s when the mother of one of my son’s friends saw me. I thought about hiding in the bread aisle, but I didn’t want to miss my number being called.
She walked over and started talking. About her son. About the basketball league her son is in. About the coach of that baskeball team. About the coach of his baseball team. About how something in some tryout wasn’t fair. About something something something.
I had no idea what she was talking about.
I didn’t know what to do.
Worse, she took a number, which meant we’d both be waiting together, for what was beginning to feel like the better part of a decade.
I looked down at my clothes to see if I was wearing the shirt that said, “Tell me a whole bunch of boring shit about your personal life.”
I was not.
That’s when the accordion started.
Like war and famine, something that should not exist.
It was a smorgasboard o’ annoyance.
All I was missing now was a swarm of locust.
The accordion was being played by some high school student. I guess to entertain shoppers. And I use the word “entertain” loosely, as in “something that makes you want to kill yourself.”
And he was playing a Christmas carol. At least I assume it was a Christmas carol. The way he played it was hard to tell. It could just as easily been “Stairway to Heaven.”
If there is anything worse than listening to a self-absorbed woman talk for ten minutes about her son, it’s doing it to the tune of a high school kid’s accordion.
And it did not stop Mighty Mouth from talking. It made her talk louder.
“HANG ON ONE SECOND,” she shouted, “I HAVE TO GET A BAG OF CHIPS.” She walked around the end-cap of the aisle.
I knew that brief window of time for what it was.
A gift from God. Lo, a miracle.
And I did with it what the Lord himself intended.
Right out the front door of the grocery store.
No sandwich. No nothing.
There was no food on earth worth the sound of that woman’s voice.
On my way out, I glared at the accordion player. It was rude. But not as rude as what I wanted to do, which was push him over. But I didn’t do it, because I knew I was in the midst of carrying out the Lord’s will, and I thought it would be inconsistent to assault someone.
Running from the grocery store, I knew I now had something in common with the little girl from 34th Street.
We both believed in miracles.