I wrote yesterday that being there made me feel a little low, and it still does, a bit. A couple of vignettes in particular stand out. First is that of a mother and daughter buying a golf club. One single club only, priced at a dollar ninety-eight. The mother had a pinched and disappointed face, as if accustomed to receiving nothing but the back of the hand from life. But here she was trying to make things just that little bit better for her plain-pretty daughter, a girl between the ages of my own daughters, who held the club in her hand in wonder and something that neared but did not quite dare to hope. My imagination filled in all the darkened corners of this tableau, the way he left them, the straightened circumstances, scrimping, coupon cutting, the choosing between things unpalatable and ends impossible.
One club. A seven iron, by the look of it.
Across the room was a woman trying on a sweater in front of a full-length mirror, smoothing it down repeatedly, looking up from the sweater into her own reflection, seeing a face that had grown taut and hardened several years back but that must once have been quite lovely. Quiet desperation warred with memory in her eyes, as she tried to smooth out a two dollar sweater that could somehow bring the magic back, the flashing eyes and laughter. Something that would bring back the bloom gone missing from a terminally faded rose.
The monoglot mestizo couple, the woman pregnant, the man buying two dollar work clothes, sucking in their breath together at the cost.
The man prowling the aisles with simmering intensity and latent violence. Jailhouse tats, exercise yard physique and low cunning. Three day growth of beard and improbably red California Angels t-shirt. Looking at the “dress” shirts. Looking, perhaps, for some shred of respectability to go with his clenching jaw muscles.
There: Now I have drawn you. Be gone.