Every once in a while, I take a short trip at lunchtime down to the local grocery store and pick up a meal from their delicatessen (while stocking up on Progresso Low Sodium soups for the days on which I don’t take a short trip at lunchtime down to the local grocery store). The fare isn’t bad – I usually go with some type of chicken and cole slaw, which has no relevance to this post whatsoever. What is of relevance is that a drink is included in the price (about 3.59 euro).
The beverage dispenser is around the corner, and next to the soft-drink machine itself is a large rack with the plastic lids, forks (here in Idaho, we drink our pop with forks), straws, and sundry items to assist in transporting and consuming the food. Without fail, I slide the straw behind my ear to carry it, much as one might slide a pencil at work, or a cigarette (if one was a hoodlum in 1950s America).
Also without fail, at the moment just prior to the actual slidage, I find myself gripped with fear that the razoresque seam of the paper wrapper is going to slice my ear open, unleashing a crimson torrent of blood, drenching my clothes and slowly spreading across the tile floor, horrifying the other customers, who will want to turn away but who will find themselves unable to do so, so shocked will they be by the hideous sight of the dark red ooze continuing to pulse from my ear, while I stand there in utter disbelief, like Carrie on prom night.
And yet, rather than place the straw in the bag with the food, the fork, and the sweet’n’sour sauce, I slide that straw back, each time wondering if it’s going to be the last; some dark part of me relishing the adrenalin rush and feeling dangerous and somehow more alive, even feeling pity for those around me who never experience such thrills – those poor souls who go through lunch and life with their straws safely tucked away, far from any vein or artery, never knowing the sheer exhilaration of taunting death with such abandon.
[UPDATE:] I really should probably quit drinking at work.
7 months ago