Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cheap vodka for oldsters

Old people. I know I have mentioned how old people love drug stores. Let me tell you about a particular pair of very old women at the downtown San Francisco Rite Aid.

These two seem to be in heaven in the aisles of that store, sorting through their pocketbooks for the correct change. Both wear head scarves, like my grandmother wore when I was a child, keeping their hair in place. One is taller, slightly more robust looking than the other, but with ruddy cheeks, dull gray eyes and hair that’s wispy and white, peeking out from under her olive scarf. She wears a faded powder blue raincoat over a dark plain dress. The other, small and thin, with a tremor and dark glasses, looks as fragile and frail as a nursing home patient. Her scarf, clear plastic with a white rim, tied neatly over a matte of chalky hair, covers her small quivering head. She also wears a raincoat, gray over a black frock. If I were to guess their ages, I’d put them soundly in their 90s, but perhaps they are just old looking 80-somethings.

As they waddle through their way through the store, they make their way to the Rite Aid aisle of booze. They spend a long time in the aisle, grasping a wrinkled Rite Aid circular, and then hone in on the vodka special of the week. The taller woman scoots one bottle – I think it is 1 ½ liters – off the shelf and puts it in the quaking hands of the smaller woman. Then she grasps a bottle herself. The two of them continue to scan the bottles, perhaps making sure they got the best price on the largest available bottle of vodka. Then they turn, again the tall one leading the small one, and wander to the register. They fumble for their change and hand wadded up bills to the cashier. The cashier takes their money and wraps their bottles in triple plastic bags. Then she turns to other cashier next to her. She giggles and rolls her eyes.

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