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Bear-Dog grunts and grumbles at my feet beneath the desk in my miniscule hideaway/office/lair and every once in awhile he’ll “accidentally” bump into my shins and then sigh heavily as if the entire weight of the world and all of its problems rests right on top of that great big head of his.

I ignore him for as long as I can, though, because I am deeply immersed in writing the last chapter of the greatest of all un-published great American novels that will soon join the thousand or so pages of my other three finished, minimally less great, un-published, great American novels on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, next to my collection of bobble-head president dolls, a deck of tarot cards I’ve never opened because I’m scared to, a thick, three-ring binder filled with rejection letters from publishers who obviously don’t know great writing when they read it, and a tin, wind-up, bicycle-riding duck with a propeller on its head that came into my possession through nefarious means way beyond my control.

I call it the Shelf of Sad Things.

None of these things matter to Bear-Dog, though, because he’s never been a big fan of my writing, anyway, and all he knows right now is that it’s Saturday morning and Saturday mornings mean oatmeal and eggs for breakfast and at this point I’ve been more than a little tardy in firing up the stove.  He bumps me again then whines and I tell him “hush” but he doesn’t and I decide that neither Poe nor Vonnegut nor Welty had dogs that demanded home-cooked breakfasts.

There’s oatmeal in the kitchen but no eggs and through the window I see it’s spitting snow and the wind is blowing so I pull a knit cap over my ears and to the top of my brow – wannabe thug-style – and shrug on an old pea jacket and drive to Publix and get there five minutes after it opens.

Back in the egg section there is another early-rising, suburban hunter/gatherer, wannabe-thug like me preparing to make a kill by staring at the stacks of plastic and Styrofoam cartons as if he’d just been presented with a wall of heretofore undiscovered ancient hieroglyphics.

I employ the universal, non-threatening form of greeting meaning “S’up,” or “Hey,” when one wannabe-thug, suburban male encounters another wannabe-thug, suburban male in places where we like to pretend we don’t ever frequent – like the grocery store on weekend breakfast supply runs – by tilting my chin in his direction and he tilts his back and we stand silently side-by-side, a few feet apart, perusing the wall and trying to figure out – well, I am, at least – if it’s worth the good karma points for choosing the more expensive cage-free organic eggs over the standard, chock-full-of-growth-hormones, $1.89-a-dozen, Grade-A jumbos.

Karma wins because I like to imagine that the cage-free hens who supply my eggs are happily clucking away and spending their days the old Looney Tunes way by sitting around on nests of clean straw and knitting booties for their un-hatched chicks while gossiping about who’s been dating Foghorn Leghorn.

A lady walks up beside us and, breaking protocol, chirps “Mornin’!!!”

“S’up,” I respond, tilting my chin.

“Hey,” says the other guy.

All three of us reach for cartons at the same time and I, following the practice ingrained in me by Mama on all those trips with her to Piggly-Wiggly 40- and-more years ago and witnessing Love-Weasel continuing the ritual throughout our marriage, flip the lid and pay homage to the eggs by whispering the prayer of thanks I made up on my own because neither Mama or Love-Weasel had ever revealed their personal and private egg prayers to me.

“Why are you lookin’ at the eggs?” asks the guy.

“Uh … I think you’re just supposed to,” I tell him.  “I think my Mama used to pray over ‘em.”

“Huh,” he grunts, lifting the lid on his carton and staring at the eggs as if there’s some paean to motherhood there he’s never noticed before.

The lady beside us sputters a bit and then – very rudely, I might add – outright laughs.
“You’re checking to see if any of ‘em are broken!” she howls, walking away as if she’s pretty damn sure she’s the smartest person in the world.

Back home, Love-Weasel laughs at me, too.

It doesn’t matter, though.

I’m still convinced prayed-over eggs taste better.


Posted on: 3/8/2013


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