Philadelphia Stories

It's Like Tracy and Hepburn here...


Wife: OMG, I had this weird dream last night that I had Alzheimer's....

Husband: How did you remember it?

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Husband running furiously back and forth between house and driveway, loading up car for 9:00AM soccer game.

Husband: We need to get out of this house!

Wife: But Dear, we have a mortgage.

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Upon entering movie theater to see the latest chick flick.

Wife: Where do you want to sit?

Husband: How about the bar down the street?


File Under: Just Weird

For some good reason I can't quite recall at this precise moment, a few days ago I had to go out at 1:12 AM to purchase white shoe polish, half-and-half, and deodorant.

I had two choices: Wal-Mart or CVS. Now, since my sister will disown me if I shop at Wal-Mart (and with her own good reasons) I opted for the all-night pharmacy.

The last time I ventured into an all-night pharmacy was about ten years ago when I lived in South Philly (think Rocky Balboa and Frankie Avalon) on the 700 block of Wharton Street. 727 Wharton Street if you feel like looking it up on Google street view.

Yes, I once owned a rowhome in South Philly.

Anyway...this night a few days ago in Camp Hill was warm. Just like every night in South Philly is warm - hot, sticky, humid - even in the middle of February, nights in Philadelphia are hot as a soft pretzel factory oven.

And I was walking up to the Camp Hill 24-hour CVS, just like I used to - well, except now I have to drive everywhere since it's against the law to cross the main highway out of my suburban development - and when I entered the store, the lights were too, too bright - just like the lights in any store are too bright when you're walking in from the night like a mole person on a ridiculous quest for inessentials which seemed so essential just ten minutes ago...

I walked into the store's hyper-fluorescence and it was like waking through some strange time portal. Or place portal. I was in a time place with one set of GPS coordinates and minute hands, but felt so strongly that those coordinates and seconds were wrong.

I was met face-to-face with my thirty-something self wandering out of a happened-before moment ten yeas ago on a different quest, this time for some vital button or floss or tube of unguent. Not an important night when it happened - the salve long gone, the rash or itch or puncture wound long healed - but suddenly an instant instance important enough in it's being a surprise visit from a younger me from an hour I wasn't paying attention to at the time.

One of those nights when I wasn't wandering in distraction, maybe promising that I'd do a better job of living more fully in the moment tomorrow, or next week....some other saint or poet would have to record the miracle of mundane existence; for the time, I must have been feeling fairly well immortal to put off writing a libretto to the awareness of my heartbeats ticking down, all set pumping over the want of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.


So here I was in a CVS outside of Harrisburg a decade later and Hall and Oates playing on the in-house stereo.

It was hot and humid, like standing over a steaming grate in the middle of Broad Street.

And I found the white shoe polish and the deodorant, but no half-and-half.

I was hoping the Acme across the street was still open, but even if it were it wouldn't matter. The Acme was in South Philly, not Camp Hill. Although, neither was I. It was all so confusing.

I shuffled up to the register and placed my dry goods on the counter. The cashier was singing to Hall and Oates. Sara smile...Won't you smile a while for me....Saraaaaaaaaaaaa. I was trying to place him...her...him. I couldn't tell. Like the Ghost of Christmas past, the person ringing up my shoe polish could have been twelve years old or sixty. Elderly man or young girl. I did a quick scan for an Adam's apple or breasts or age spots or baby teeth, but there was no human geography to point me in any direction of "This person is here." His skin was translucent and fine like vellum, her ash-blond hair permed badly or well, depending the vantage point of your decade.

I was stunned into slack-jawed mortality at coming face-to-face with what must surely be an alien or angel or Cashier of the Apocalypse, right here before me, scanning tampons and chocolate bars at my local late-night CVS.

S/he stopped singing and spoke to me:

"Sorry about that. I just love to sing."

No, it's fine. I was enjoying the song.

"You must have felt like you were in an elevator listening to that song I was singing. That was the best elevator music ever. Or the worst, depending on what you think of elevator music."

Actually, I wasn't thinking of being in an elevator. I was thinking of a someplace else.

"Oh yeah. What were you thinking of?"

Oh...well...it's kind of silly. For some reason, walking in here tonight reminded me so much of this other 24 hour CVS I used to go to all the time. I'm a night owl. I know all the good all night deodorant suppliers.

"I'm a night owl, too. My last job before this, I was the manager another 24 hour store. I worked there for a year."

Oh yeah? What store was that?


"The CVS in South Philly. The one near Wharton Street."



I have no idea what it means.

I don't think it means anything.

Just another in a long line of weird events that I should probably write a book about ...maybe next year.


24 comments:

Always Home and Uncool said...

"How about the bar down the street?"

The hubby is welcome to knock 'em back with me any time you and My Love need to get your Steel Magnolias on.

heather said...

Your husband's hilarious! Love those one-liners!

scargosun said...

*cue Twilight Zone theme*

Weird...totally weird.

Wish you were still in Philly area. :(

anne said...

Hubby was out the other night and decided to stop at a bar for one or two drinks. It was when he ordered the Limburger sandwich with onions that he was set on a crash course with a guy he later proclaimed was "either really evil or some kind of coal reagion prophet. I'm still not sure."

Strange moments these.

Momo Fali said...

Um...is it weird that this scared me a little bit? FREAKY!!

Heinous said...

Great one liners. I'm a big fan of them.

Just check outside your window at night for that cashier...just in case.

Kathy/Catnip Studio said...

"Cashier of the Apocalypse" ... I will never forget this phrase, and now I can call them by name when I see them!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Yikes - my hair would have stood on end at that point.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Very Twilight Zone.

Michael Plank said...

Half and half...that's a weird name for a product, isn't it?

/Jerry Seinfeld.

Kelley said...

I would have shoved it/her/him and shouted 'Get OUT!' like that chick on Seinfield and would have got myself arrested.

Just to add to the story, mind.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

First of all, Husband and Wife? They are funny.

And that whole CVS thing: Excellent.

Kath said...

Goosebumpy!

Mr Farty said...

Now there's a spooky coincidence - exactly the same thing never happened to me.

But we did go on a family holiday to Majorca (Mediterranean island) once and found a nice place, Mel's Beach Bar, run by an English girl.

Two years later in Andorra (between Spain and France) I recognised the waitress's voice in a restaurant. "Didn't you serve us once in Majorca?"
"Yes, I'm Mel."

Made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

mothergoosemouse said...

Whoa.

That made me think of the scene in The Shining where the weird dude in the bathroom tells Jack Nicholson, "You've always been the caretaker here, sir."

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Well, at least the male/female at the front counter didn't then start to laugh really big until their mouth got so large and dark that they swallowed you whole. I'm always afraid a mundane moment will turn into some weird sci fi horror movie.

Loved the jokes btw. You guys must be a trip.

Dr. Cason said...

Sweet funny sarcasm is under appreciated.

Nasty biting sarcasm seems to be more the norm and overproduced.

SJ said...

Yes, as we get on with it, it becomes increasingly circular. Einstein knew his stuff, although sometimes it seems all too much…

Variations On A Theme said...

I love those kind of moments!!!!!

g said...

Eerie story - but cool!

Kristin said...

I think what I find most intriguing is the not recalling why, at 1 o'clock in the morning, you needed deodorant, shoe polish and half & half... it's obsessing me!

I keep wondering... school project? keeping things sexy in ways I cannot imagine?

apathy lounge said...

I've heard situations like that referred to as "LIFE INTERESECTIONS". I think it's pretty neat.

MereCat said...

ooooh. weird. coooool.

Moobs said...

In fact I DO know what it means. It means you are a witch and must burn ... or something.

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