What’s not important was the shopping center although if
someone wanted to they could comment on all the higher end retail development,
that the shopping center in no way resembled anything of the past (aside from
the parking lot, the parking lot looked about the same), or how it appeared as
almost a default that stores like Whole Foods and Central Market (half a
mile away from each other no less) had been plopped down, not necessarily
because the people in the area knew of or needed better quality foods but
probably because of some clever combination of pre-established marketing and
real estate research—that the stores themselves were a license to print money
solely by their privilege of existing.
What's important is when B. Morris pulled in to park,
the goateed man in the oversized Ford truck across the spot immediately
looks up at him. Simultaneous, the woman in the Mercedes to the truck’s side
looks up at B.Morris as well. He knows
nothing about why people do this exactly (although he figures it has something
to do with evolutionary psychology—looks can signal a threat or a potential love
interest) but right now, he is
wearing sunglasses and he takes a certain amount of bizarre comfort knowing that
neither person has gotten a good bead on him.
As he makes his way toward the store, he can already hear muzak from outside and he registers peripheral glances with a well-dressed man walking in the entrance and the woman from the
Mercedes, while a gentleman in some kind of employee clothing faces out
toward all three—the man appears to be motionless and bored. He is not leaving
the store. He is simply standing there. And by merely walking in and past him
as a customer with total free will and volition, B. Morris feels strangely uncomfortable.
B. Morris is possibly reading too much into the situation.
When B. Morris enters the store, he opts to not remove his
sunglasses for several reasons: he sees better with them on, he can better
avoid eye contact with strangers, and he also notices other people in the store
have their sunglasses on as well, so really, by association, he’s not odd or
rude for not taking them off inside since other people are doing it as well.
Although when he looks around, eye contact seems to be a giant exercise in
futility anyways. People are cascading and moving by him in so many directions
and in so many different areas that attempting to literally make eye contact
with each and every individual would more than likely make B. Morris look completely
insane. Therefore the solution is to
stop trying to make eye contact at all—to adapt a blasé demeanor (and to focus
on the real goal, buying things).
B. Morris makes his way over to the cold pre-prepared food.
He looks at the sushi. He doesn’t think about this at the time but the sushi
would probably look like some psychotically arranged dish to a far off alien-human
who had never seen sushi before in his or her life—why are they wrapped in little tires like that, the alien human
might wonder. But B. Morris hasn’t had sushi in a long time, and at the grocery
store, it feels affordable. After looking at the sushi (he finally removes his
sunglasses to look) for over fifteen seconds but less than forty five seconds (because
B. Morris doesn’t like people who dawdle, let alone himself), he grabs a
package and heads to the check-out lanes. At the cash registers, B. Morris has to make
an important decision. There is an
increasingly growing “express” lane to his left, and then there are the
normal lanes to his right. Upon glancing back and forth, B. Morris realizes one
of the normal lanes is entirely empty and as he approaches closer, he sees the woman in front of him is finished checking out. B.
Morris is not going to have to wait a single second to checkout while everyone
else is still standing around in line. This doesn’t make B. Morris feel better
than everyone so much as it makes him feel like he found an alarming hole in
the system, a chink in the armor of the all-mighty “man,” or a modern day
miracle all together. Basically, it makes him feel good.
As B. Morris approaches the register and places his sushi down (why does the fish go on an empty
conveyor belt, the confused alien might wonder), he overhears the cashier
saying “oh I had a dream about B-12 vitamins,” and then subsequently and randomly, “sorry I’m a robot,” and hearing the last part about the
robot, B. Morris smirks because the cashier is not a robot, he’s actually just
a man with a pony tail and glasses. Suddenly, B. Morris spots a girl across from him at the other checkout lane
who he recognizes and for whatever reason, her appearance feels especially shocking and
abrupt. She is a petite, tan, and very attractive redhead girl whose name he
knows. She appears in his vision as some kind of fake 3-D version of herself,
she is especially vivid—the closest comparison B. Morris can think of would be
one of those technicolor high-point-scoring cherries from the Pac-Man games.
See, when B. Morris was little-B. Morris, his high school
locker happened to be directly below this older K. Watkins girl’s locker, and little-B.
Morris worshipped her secretly like a goddess. The obsession was so fanatical
that little-B. Morris would do anything to be noticed or get attention from
her, for example, asking her asinine and dull questions like “do you know what
time it is?” even though he was one hundred percent certain these dialogs would
garner him absolutely zero (or possibly even negative) foothold—but what mattered
was this would still give him an excuse to mumble awkwardly and look directly
at her, to be able to claim later to his friends all cool— “yeah, K. Watkins
and me talked today.”…..(Many, many years later, older B. Morris ran into K.
Watkins at a reunion-esque gathering and finally admitted in front of several
friends and strangers—more than likely thanks to his highly inebriated state—
about his highly secret and slightly creepy crush on her. One of K. Watkins friends
found this cute and coo’d entertainingly, but K. Watkins merely said, “wait…what?”
and then turned away in a rather disgusted fashion. At this point, B. Morris had a horrible flashback to feeling like an awkward, pubescent kid in high school
and wished he had of never said anything in the first place even though it was
really a very innocent, harmless, and even complimentary thing to branch out
Now, B. Morris has the K. Watkins cherry directly lined up
in his frontal cross-air vision, and lucky for him, his recognition of her
presence happens not at the expense of being recognized himself—that is to say,
the two don’t make direct eye contact. B. Morris can proceed to check out as
planned, watch K. Watkins in the background, and make completely certain that
he never makes any further eye contact with her. The cashier then turns to him and asks out of
the blue, “so are you a robot too?” to which, while B. Morris still has
practically no clue what the cashier is talking about but responds, “yeah man,
I’m pressing all these buttons, aren’t I?” referring to the computerized
credit screen (meanwhile, K. Watkins appears to be staring at him (or is this
B. Morris’ imagination?), but B. Morris refuses, refuses to look), to which the cashier chuckles and says, “yeah,
she didn’t get it,” referring to the woman who checked out before B. Morris, and
then the cashier shouts, “damn RICH PEOPLE!” B. Morris just kind of stands there staring in
amazement at him and then looks at the old lady behind to see if she thinks the
cashier is crazy as well, but nothing is really revealed.
Returning to his car, B. Morris finds himself in an
overly titillated state from the stimulation between seeing K. Watkins and proceeds to almost back up over a lady as he leaves
the parking lot. At home, the sushi tastes like complete garbage but B. Morris
remains happy in the fact knowing that K. Watkins saw him make his purchase
since sushi would be what sophisticated human
aliens would eat, he thinks to himself as he regurgitates a piece back onto