The List

The List

“Man perishes; his corpse turns to dust; all his relatives pass away. But writings make him remembered in the mouth of the reader.” – The Teachings of Ani, 16th century BC Egyptian text.

Fallen echoes of time drifting through human space.  Ripples of quiet desperations.  Sense-smells of humanity.

  • S. CREAM
  • SLEEP!

In block capital letters.  Neat but hurried in construction. Letters flowing and connected in spots with haste that evaded the lifting  of the fine-tipped black pen.  Block capital letters with the distinctive curve of a feminine hand.  The female curve of body and mind flowing through into the constructed capitals.

On a ubiquitous yellow sticky pad.  Folded in half to mute the stickiness in one’s pocket.

A lif

elong war on litter drove me to reflexively pick up the yellow scrap.

I picked it up off the ground in the market parking lot as I was getting into my truck.  I thought it was my list.  I thought that my list, hastily scrawled on a yellow sticky note, folded in half, had jumped from my pocket.

My list spoke of olive oil and pizza shells for pizza night.  I’m no food saint.  But, I get plenty of sleep.

Her list struck me.  Struck me as a story.

Like Hemingway’s six-word novel;

“For Sale: Baby Shoes, never worn.”

The sour cream and rolls, the missing ingredients for a quick casserole dish for some social event that she didn’t have time or energy to attend.  Maybe a chicken and macaroni bake for the club meeting or a tetrazzini for the boy scouts.

Snackwells and Balance.

The word Snackwell written in a hurried and connected way that might be read ironically ‘Savewells’ or maybe ‘Sanewells’.

Snackwells are a type of low calorie cracker invented by the Kraft company in the 90’s for women who wanted to eat healthy, but didn’t really want to understand what eating healthy meant.  A mass market re-packaging of the same industrial crap for a new consumer sentiment.

Balance is probably Balance Bars.  (More probable than the Balance pet food brand.)  Another mass produced industrial ‘health’ product for the consumer.  Protein bars produced in a rash to capitalize on the protein craze.

I’m going to call her Pauline.

Pauline is too busy to exercise or eat real food, but she feels guilty about it.  This guilt is assuaged by grabbing the Snackwells and Balance bars to mix in with the tuna noodle casseroles.  She doesn’t have time to make a salad or cook a squash.

Pauline has been putting on 3-5 pounds a year since college and has a closet full of pants and dresses that she’ll someday fit back into.  She has read somewhere or perhaps has a friend who lost 10 pounds on a protein-based diet.

Someone in Pauline’s household has a cold, perhaps she herself, and needs tissues.  A summer cold.  An August flu.  Something in her life smells bad.  Something in the house?  Maybe she is hosting that scout meeting that the casserole is for.  Maybe family or friends are coming around and she needs to spritz the house with Alpine Meadow fragrances to hide the common rut of human stench.

Pauline is tired.  So tired.  She feels like she is on a hamster wheel of work, family, shopping, cooking and cleaning.  She had great hopes for this world, for this life, and she is slowly being strangled by it.  She wakes up each day and does what she has to, what she is expected to and puts on a brave face.

What she really wants.  What her soul cries out for is sleep.  A long, long sleep in her warm bed.  Let her husband take the kids and the dogs and cook the casseroles and clean the kitchen.  She wants to curl long hours into the soft cushion bosom of her bed.

Pauline’s list is the intrusion of a subconscious cry of help into the daily clatter of her life.  Swirling in the deep recesses of her brain she senses something is amiss.

What is on your list?

My short list of pizza fixings is a story too.  A story about my need to have my wife be content on a Friday night.  I know from long experience she likes pizza more than she likes me.  My list is an offering to a harmonious home.

I am Pauline.  You are Pauline.  We are all Pauline.  Each of use ply the waters of this story board our own desperate ways.  Each of us has a list of things we need to do, a list of offerings to our gods in this day.

The answer to all the lists is to be kind.

When you’re fighting through the inane hilarity of your day, maybe in line at the grocery, smile at someone, look them in the eye, and let them know it’s going to be ok.

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