Friday, April 3, 2009

Barb, in under three hundred words.

“These are so good; we used to drink these in rehab.” Barb threw this kind of information into our conversations with the same casual air she used when telling me there were leftover pastries in the breakroom. I don’t know if it was meant to shock me, or if it was the only way she could share those parts of her life. Sometimes it felt aggressive, a way to up the ante. I read "Bastard out of Carolina", and when I told her it was about a girl who’d been raped by the age of eleven, she barked “who hasn’t?”, took a drag off her cigarette, and cocked her head to one side before exhaling. I was never sure what subjects were safe to talk about and what was off limits, she was blind in one eye and I made the mistake of asking her which one it was. “I need to go to Costco to get a six pound bag of gummy bears,” was her answer. Costco was the Holy Grail to Barb. She came home with cases of off-brand soda, reams of cheap paper, and bundles of packing tape that ended up in boxes themselves and moved three times before she finally donated them to the Salvation Army. When the nearest Costco was replaced with a Jewel, she refused to call it by its new name. She once walked through its automatic sliding doors, stood on the rubber mat in the entryway, and yelled “Costcoooooooooooo” at the top of her lungs.

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