I’ve never bludgeoned someone to death with a bag of broccoli, but I’ve given it some serious thought. I love the people who talk about their pet peeve as if they’ve only got one, as if their house doesn’t have to be a kattywompus zoo of pet peeves tumbling through the halls and messing up the sheets on the bed. I am annoyed by many things. However, only one of my pets every makes me want to cudgel someone with a vegetable.
There is a very specific brand of slow walker that lives at grocery stores between the hours of 3 and 5 pm, and they always work in pairs, and they always have a big shopping cart, and they walk side-by-side, and as they shuffle down the aisle that must have been made just for them, they never seem to notice the roiling inferno of petty rage behind them. They never turn around because they’re much too busy pointing at cans of diced tomato that are finally on sale, and then, after 45 minutes of deliberating in the middle of the aisle, they do not buy the diced tomatoes. The diced tomatoes would not go with the tuna casserole they’re making.
Why do these people exist? From what swampy pool do they hatch, and when their long-nailed pinky fingers do pierce the leathery shell in which they gestated, do they look at their brood mates and say “mmm well I don’t know if we really need another loaf of sourdough.” Even at birth they are fully equipped to spend way too much time in the middle of the bakery, and of course, you need another loaf of sourdough; it’s good for breakfast and lunch!
When I was a kid, my brother and I would take the big bouncy balls from the netted cages in the kids’ section, and we’d bounce them around the store like it was our own private basketball court and we were its terribly uncoordinated short players. Sometimes the balls would get out of our control, and they’d bounce into people. Collateral damage was common.
I wish I could do that now. I wish these oblivious grocery meanderers could be shuffling down their aisle, quietly mumbling about the pros and cons of angel hair pasta, and then they would stop. They would be frozen in their tracks because standing in front of them would be a strange-looking adult holding a giant green rubber ball over their head like Atlas holding the world, only a little less impressive. Then, with all my considerable, near-herculean strength, I would hurl that ball at the space directly between their heads, and it would smite them. Then, while they lay dazed on the chipped linoleum floor, I would kneel over them, stare deeply into their eyes, then walk away without saying a word. They know what they did. As I leave, I’d steal their shopping cart–maybe so they’d have to get all their groceries again and redeem themselves, maybe because I also wanted another loaf of sourdough. Who’s to tell.