Below is Part 6 of 16 monthly installments for Visitant.
Peeved with William Shakespeare, I login my password, Motleydots, and google backstory on the pungent potherb, Rosmarinus officinalis. For remembrance, says sweet Ophelia to Hamlet, a Danish prince and the lousiest boyfriend in western literature.
If Ophelia had not taken her own life, we women would have a better play. In Greek, Ophelia means She who helps. But she didn’t help herself. And, at the last minute, the Bard did not come to her rescue. Lovely Ophelia had to drown slo-mo so the Danish ham could have more stage time, more lines for high-school seniors to memorize and mourn. He dies anyway and takes down the good people who help him. Hamlet is a study alright, the prelim to a mass shooting.
Back to power herbs. Rosemary also promotes hair growth and fights cellulite. So, hello, Dot Motley, to hairy calves below more slender thighs. No hiding blemishes under harsh supermarket lumens. Zero chiaroscuro. Rosmarinus officinalis to the rescue. I drink a freshly brewed tisane.
Great to have a loyal friend in the plant world, but beware side effects. Rosemary causes my dots to break rank and take formation in low hover. Think aura with metallic glints. How do I know? I consume rosemary, and men take regard of me in ordinary places.
Today, my dots have ventured beyond safe range. Grocery shopping, I’m tailed by a plainclothes cop with a black Velcro holster and a star that says Detective. Amazing, flatfoot’s leather footwear looks bullet-proof.
Don’t worry. Dot Motley is not a shoplifter. Let others snitch Oreos from a busted box or filch an Oregon Queen Ann cherry from the opened Ziploc bag. He’s on my case. A sugarfoot, handsome and fit with six-pack abs a-ripple beneath his shirt. Maybe, practicing his skill set on older ovo-vegans.
Or, is he birthday boy armed with party favors from the Dollar Tree? You know, one of those twenty-something sons who lives at home. Think neo-Ham, jealous of his mom’s new man, pestering Ophelia’s cup of tea for the sugar.
Speaking of which, I beeline for Cereal, pass variations on Cocoa Pops, and pause at Adult. Standing on my tiptoes, I raise my arms.
Badge boy bivouacs.
I admire you, he says, suddenly sheepish.
Like I’m reaching for the moon, instead of spoon-size shredded wheat.
Adult, I reply, lo-cal, hi-fiber.
X-rated, says he, and sighs.
I flee, but Badge Boy tracks me to Produce. I eye bagged arugula with envy. Too expensive. I cast a glance at the romaine, three hearts side by side. Like ménage à trois can work outside the movies.
Badge Boy thrusts an arm in STOP position like a traffic cop. Toxic that lettuce, he announces, salmonella, rod-shaped, gram negative. Who can escape 2,600 serotypes?
Weary of gloom and doom, I hasten away from looseleaf, zoom past Pet Food, and zigzag shelfers in International.
Success! I shake the gumshoe at the north end of the store.
I recoup my dots, catch my breath. Before the long refrigerated wall with tall glass doors, a man is loading his cart with eggs—dozens of medium-size eggs in baby blue foam boxes that match his knit leisure suit and slip-on shoes, rubber soles, no strings attached.
Truly beautiful this man, he moves like a dancer before icy mirrors. He smiles. I melt.
Too early for Easter, I tell myself, Dot, think fast. Deviled eggs, I venture, church supper?
Meet Sunday Satan, he replies with a sly smile.
Our skin is the same color, but we begin to chat along that careful American divide of white from black. Sunday Satan proceeds to recite his killer recipe for deviled eggs. No one can just eat one, he advises, so use medium eggs—the halves are easier to plate. Nothing wrong with rosemary and a dash of paprika, he continues, but the secret is dried mustard powder. Spicy flavor and brightens a dull yolk.
Yes, I say, boiled yolks can blue at the edges.
Get you some religion. Blest food got no business with the Blues.
We laugh, and he wheels his eggs away.
I place a carton of medium eggs in my buggy and head for aisle 7, Kitchen Needs. You bet I’m looking for a little tin of mustard powder. Out of thin air, Sunday Satan stands before me. Forgot to mention, he says, pointing to the salad dressings. Add powdered ranch to the mayo. This brand.
He tosses a packet in my cart and, poof, evaporates. Nice of him to trust his secrets to a stranger. Or, is the deviled egg thing a chick magnet? Cluck, cluck, make this hen’s day and keep the sorry sky from falling.
I feel great, but the ligature of rosemary must be waning. The rest of my shopping lacks juncture. I proceed without delay through checkout. The cashier nods. He remembers me (how?) and tells the bagger to use paper.
Thanks, I say, and leave through the automatic exit door. I’m nursing a memory of my grandmother Meemo prepping an unbaked holiday ham with dried mustard powder. Always into color, I had to rethink that dull yellow ochre with piggy pink.
One of life’s easier compromises, Meemo replied. Now, go ahead, Dotty, feel free, push in the cloves, all of them, any way you want.
Almost done at the supermarket, I look both ways at the crosswalk and wheel my buggy toward my car. The parking lot is almost empty. Has a sinkhole opened in the late afternoon shadows? Is there a shooter? Anxious, I wish the boy detective was in evidence. Trouble shows, and in-house security dissolves like sugar in tea. Dang, I’m so ready for Daylight Saving Time.
The wind picks up. Rain soon. Carts break rank and careen and crash on the asphalt. Chaos. Dodging danger, I hunker down behind my buggy and traverse the massive grid of painted lines in 68 steps. Almost make it to my vehicle when a deep male voice calls out.
I can’t see your socks, he says.
Well, can’t see yours, I shoot back, hoping he’s not aiming a semi-automatic at my ankles. I keep on walking in a Hamlet moment of To be or not to be. I have no other choice.
No gun. Salt-and-pepper man is wearing khakis and worn deck shoes. Without socks. Must be Yankee. Dixie men wear socks, even with sandals. This mouthy dandy likely hails from the Nutmeg State.
Showing out, he rubs his eyes as if my chosen canary-yellow hose has blinded him. Vaping latent rosemary on the breeze, he’s watched my socks leave the store. Is he kinky into female ankles like the vicar in Victorian novels? Maybe Nutmeg removed his socks on purpose, exposed his ankles, and staged his proposition as big boo-hoo of hairy eyeballs.
Hasten, warn my dots. Avoid eye contact. Open trunk. Unload cart. Careful with the eggs. Instead, reckless me shoves the bags in the back, pulls up my socks, and slips behind the wheel. Inside my car, I venture a wicked little wave, then hit the gas.
But traffic is slow stop and go. My brain dots coalesce in wait-mode. Was I, Dot Motley, shy Badge Boy’s first? By contrast, Sunday Satan, a natural at meet-and-greet, could go pro in hotel hospitality. Suave dresser, seems he’s already there.
About Nutmeg Vicar, why ridicule my safety socks in an empty parking lot?
Single-lane. Flashing lights. Accident ahead. Arm up, Badge Boy directs oncoming traffic with an orange flare.
Oh, no! Eggs everywhere. Dusk light, evening fright. Reflections riot on wet pavement. I compose pseudo haiku, implore the aura lost to twilight.
I don’t know from
Whew, nothing serious. Nutmeg Vicar rear-ended Sunday Satan.
Home in bed with the vapors, this rosemary-eater prefers happy endings. I dream Ophelia survives. She surfaces with water-wrinkled skin after a rough night among felled trees and tendrils. Awake, I swear off yellow socks in parking lots and pen my green dream—
Audience for shadows
in forest fabric
my hair re-parts
strap of sandal snaps
I totter on tender foot
fumble curtsy in umbrage.
Why sell yourself short? I ask myself in list-think. Own botched grandeur. Lighten up on the herbal tisane. No need to go cold turkey. Reserve yellow socks for royal weddings on T.V.
I tie on Friday’s apron, clear the counter, and prepare to devil eggs for a gathering of bookish friends. Nice with salad and a touch of rosemary