Monday, January 05, 2009

brown velvet

the ragley

There was a little grocery co-op near my old place in Seattle called the Rainbow. The grocery was gone when I went back last; a victim, I'll bet, of the same big box forces that brought down its neighbors, the independent book store and the funky hardware shop.

When it was there, and when I lived around the corner,[1] I worked from home and the Rainbow was close enough that I’d run down for a few things to make dinner fresh nearly every night, or at least every other.

Which is what I was doing when I reached for the mushrooms. My hand collided with a fellow who was reaching for them too, and I blushed and apologized and let him go first, to which he let me go first, which I did. I said thank you and moved on to find some bread.

I was wearing brown velvet pants, for which I feel I should apologize, but they were the kind that didn’t wrinkle much and were super easy to pull on in a hurry when I had to change out of my work-at-home sweats into something suitable for going out in public. Which is what I had done, shortly before reaching for the mushrooms.

Coincidentally, but insignificantly, they were the same brown as a Chocolate Labrador, which I learned when I attended a Christmas party wearing the pants at the home of some folks who had two Chocolate Labs, both of whom took an aggressive liking to my pants, and to me, and treated me like one of their own. They liked me so much that I had to leave the party early.

I was married then, to a different someone else, in the final years of a marriage that would soon cave in from loneliness; and that loneliness may have been why I stared unbelievingly at the clipping taped to the cash register at the Rainbow a week or so later.

The clipping was an I Saw U from the Seattle Stranger, where folks post classified ads addressed to people they’ve seen in passing and hope to meet again. It referenced the Rainbow, two hands colliding while reaching for mushrooms, and a pair of brown velvet pants.

It also made an achingly sweet reference to a smile exchanged; the kind of reference that only dead poets can get away with, and it was probably that line that left me stunned and dumb while the cashier repeated my total and waited for me to pay.

If that moment had been a movie I would have torn the clipping from the register and taken it home, crumpled in the corner of my pocket. If that moment had been a movie my cheating husband would have left several scenes before, and by the time I bought the mushrooms my bruised heart would be ready to love again.

None of that happened.

Instead, I paid the cashier, and nodded and smiled when she saw that I was reading the classified and said “isn’t that cool? I hope I'm here when she sees it.”

Then I went home to the soft rot of my marriage, and I made dinner for two.

[1] My apartment at the Ragley, it should be noted, was beautiful and massive with unspeakably cheap rent, and I owed it entirely to Anniemcq and her sweet string-pulling spouse. It is a debt I will try to pay off slowly over the course of my lifetime with small boxes of toffee at Christmas, and with my abiding affection.


Leslie F. Miller said...

That did not end at all the way I'd hoped. Because I'm human, after all, and because, being the owner of a pair of brown velvet paints, I might have called that guy.

And you didn't even save the clipping?

I suppose this could be a movie too.

suttonhoo said...

tell me about it -- I live with the what if.

fortunately the plot turned my way before too long -- but first, there was much suffering. ;)

kari said...

Aw, sweetie. I love this so much -- and yet. What will be will be. Just remember: you are worth seeking.

anniemcq said...

well, you know, this just makes me swoon. and it also makes me a little jealous, because I can't wear velvet pants because my thighs are too chubby and I'd wear out the velvet where they rub together when I walk.

This just completely transported me back to the old 'hood. The Ragley was something, wasn't it. I loved that place, that building, those people. I will forever care for the ones who lived there.

And by the way, any debt that you imagine you owe us is purely in your own beautiful noggin, and even if it weren't, it would have been payed off many times by your dear friendship. But you can keep sending us toffee if it makes you feel better.

Love u.

I, Rodius said...

Aw. Lovely what ifs. And yet, you didn't take that clipping because you were meant to go elsewhere and do elsethings with elsefolk. Or so my mother might say, more grammatically.

Enyasi said...

I long for the Rainbow and that odd little bookstore and the amazing windows in your apartment. How can you not love a girl with sense enough to wear brown velvet pants... the dogs knew it, that stranger knew it... and now the rest of world knows it as well.. Lovely post...

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