Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.'
-The Graduate, 1967
Plastic did me in today. I hadn't cried about this cycle -- indeed, I'd never cried about any of our previous failed cycles-- until I went to the grocery store this afternoon.
When my period arrived on Friday, I was caught off guard by it. Even though every time I'd gone to the bathroom for days on end, I'd been expecting to see blood, it was somehow still a shock. So much so that an electric pulse ran through all the cells in my body. After that, I was sad, but it was a pretty numb sort of sad. And I did what I do when things don't go my way: I started planning and organizing. I got the number for a new OB who's rumored to do things other doctors are unwilling to do (i.e., IUIs after only a 4 month wait following a partial molar pregnancy), and made an appointment with her. Cait and I started discussing our sperm options, and I even told her I wanted to start thinking about how many times we try with me before moving on to other possibilities (more on that later).
But I never cried. Yes, we held each other and spent a lot of time on the couch. We were moody (me in particular). I was near tears Friday night at my assistant's retirement party because K was there with her baby, but I didn't actually fall apart. I've noted my lack of strong emotion these past few days, but thought, "Oh, well, people react differently." What I was forgetting is that it usually takes an unrelated event to trigger my utter disintegration. This time, it came in the form of a bitchy woman in the grocery store.
I am just that kind of crunchy granola lesbian who takes her canvas bags to go food shopping. Unfortunately, I'm also a stingy crunchy granola lesbian so I don't shop exclusively at the Co-op or Whole Lotta Money Foods, and the more mainstream grocery stores really only pay lip service to the idea that you can bring your own bags. In fact, they don't even ask, "Paper or plastic?" anymore, so on those occasions when I forget my bags I have work to convince the cashier that I really want "Paper, no plastic. Really, just paper. It's fine." As a result, I prefer the self-checkout lane in the snazzier of the two mainstream stores near our house. It suits the anal stingy crunchy granola lesbian in me to be able to scan and bag my groceries in exactly the order that I want them. However, I do have to keep an eye out for the employees, who, in an effort to be helpful, roam the self-checkout area to provide assistance and bag groceries when no one needs other help.
Today I stopped one checker just as he was starting to put my purchases into plastic sacks, but was a bit too slow on the uptake when another came by a few minutes later. She had already bagged about half of my order when I told her I had my own bags and would take care of it. I thought about just taking the items as they were, but I couldn't bear the thought of all that unnecessary plastic, so I moved the groceries into my own bags (except for the milk, which had already begun to sweat on the bag) and carefully hung the bags back on the rack hoping that they wouldn't be thrown away. The first checker came back and began bagging purchases for the woman behind me. "Is that a used bag?" she demanded in a hostile tone.
The cashier looked at her blankly as I said, "Only for about five seconds," and tried to explain about bringing my own bags, commenting that plastic bags are wasteful.
"You get your face out of my business," she interrupted. "Don't go putting your opinions on me. Don't you call me wasteful. You better just shut your mouth and get out of here," she continued, becoming more outraged and self-righteous by the second.
I made the mistake of trying to defend myself, prolonging the hideous interchange for two or three minutes longer. Finally recognizing that no good could come of lingering, I finished shoving my bags and loose items into my cart and left in a maelstrom of indignation, frustration, and grief.
I did NOT cry in front of her, which I consider to be a noteworthy accomplishment. But I cried in the parking lot. In the car. On the way home. Loading the groceries into the cart (really the stroller I keep in the car for Giggle Girl) to bring them in from the parking lot. Fumbling to unlock the door. As I tried to explain the encounter to Cait. The tears crescendoed into agonized, hiccuping wails when I realized that I had forgotten the toilet paper (the key reason for the shopping trip in the first place) in my hurried exodus from the store. And I dissolved into a limp puddle when Cait discovered that the hummus had exploded all over the interior of one of the bags and its contents. My soggy, sniffling state lasted for at least half an hour, and the post-crying sinus headache and general feeling of flatness persisted quite a while beyond that. I'm better now, and I know it was good to get it out of my system, but I kind of preferred the numbness. It's much easier, cheaper (stock tip: buy Kleenex) and neater!
In the end, it was plastic that broke this camel's tear ducts.