Lois waited in line for the cashier to come back with her Parliament cigarettes. There was a picture of Bob Hope on the cover of People Magazine. She picked it up and thumbed through the pages. Before the supermarket she had picked up her laundry at the Dry Cleaners. She now thought about the dress that was hanging in the backseat of her car and wondered if it would still fit. Friday night she had a date with her dentist, a middle-aged man with boyish dimples and a big house in Brentwood overlooking the 405.
It was strange how it came about. She had a mouthful of bloody gauze and was loopy from anasthesia. He wore one of those blue protective masks. His lips were covered, but his eyes smiled, as he asked, “Friday night, how about you and I get some dinner,” as if they were long-time friends.
Ten years ago she would have laughed at him and found a new dentist. Now, she told him, “I can clear some room in my calendar.”
Lois examined her items on the conveyor belt. She removed the pint of Dreyer’s Rocky Road ice cream and placed it on the candy rack behind her. Ronald Reagan looked at her from the front page of the Los Angeles Herald. “Oh, shut up, Ronnie,” she thought. “You get to be president.”
The cashier came back and scanned the carton. The cashier was young and bored and had pretty blue eyes. Lois looked at her and remembered that at her age she was on page 67 of People, under the headline: Rising Stars.
“You know what? Let me get two more of those,” she told the cashier. The girl looked up but didn’t answer. She didn’t recognize Lois, she was too young to remember her. “Two,” Lois repeated, and not in a friendly way, twisting a peace sign back and forth.
The cashier pouted. “I’ll be right back,” she replied.
“Thank you, sweetie.” Lois grinned as she watched the girl retrieve the cartons from the locked case, then paid for her groceries and walked out into the bright sunlight. The parking lot was crowded and cars were lined up waiting for a spot. She loaded her groceries in the trunk and then got behind the wheel. Tilting the mirror to see herself, she adjusted her bangs while also keeping an eye on the Mercedes behind her with its blinker on. “You can wait,” she said aloud, then continued arranging her dyed blonde hair.
Lois put a Parliament between her lips and lit it, then blew an expertly-controlled smoke ring out the window, watching the driver of the Mercedes. He threw his hands up in the air and brought them down hard on his steering wheel. “That’s right, darling, get upset.”
The Rocky Road started to melt.