Friday, July 23, 2004

This insane family at Ralphs 

Couple nights ago, I went to the grocery store with one of my roommates. Nothing too fancy, just needed to pick up some cereal, cheese, fruit, etc, etc. So we're walking through the dairy section when we come upon what can only be described as white trash gleefully unaware of their surroundings. And by "gleefully unaware" I mean they thought they were about to pick up some cotton candy after filling the clown mouth with a water pistol at the county fair. They numbered three. A man in his late thirties; presumably the father, although one shudders at the thought after seeing how disheveled he looks. A disaffected 14 year old girl, pale as an egg white and what looked to be her 12 year old brother. That boy was just... wow.

That's our cast. My roommie and I walk head on past them. The dad is wearing an electric blue Hawaiian shirt, only half way buttoned, and holding his flip-flops in his hands. Yes, he's holding his shoes for no apparent reason other than to walk barefoot in the dairy section and attract strange glances from other shoppers. He blurts out to the kids, one on either side of him, "Hey! Where do we get the coffee and beer?" You knew at that moment that this man's diet consisted of only those two beverages and possibly some pizza and hot dogs. Nice work, dad. Send your daughter for the beer and have junior grab the caffeine.

The girl had this spaced-out look drawn over her face. She was awkward, struggling with the early stages of adolescence while constantly pulling at her white dress. You got the feeling that her dad was the one picking her clothes for her. One wouldn't be out of line to assume such as a divorce in the family seemed highly likely. Even after having just laid eyes on them.

The 12 year old boy... just... I'm struggling as we speak to come up with the words to describe the train wreck that is this pre-teen white kid dressed head-to-toe in "gangsta" gear, skanking all over the aisle. Not walking, skanking. Like at a punk show. Limbs flailing all over the place, hips wiggling side to side, happy feet and crazy legs flying this way and that. Nearly plowed himself into a shopping cart. It's like he was a wind-up toy that couldn't slow himself down. Even though its obvious that this is just a normal kid hopped up on caffeine and crystal meth, you watch him go by and you get the distinct impression that he has no control over his actions. If he crashes into a stacked display of Pepsi, so be it. The Pepsi was probably asking for it, anyway.

The trio walk (and skank) past us and instantly we're in a state of shock and awe. Our giant smiles give us away to the other shoppers who were lucky enough to glimpse the spectacle. "Do you think he has full custody over them?" we wondered. A few minutes later, we're walking up one of the aisles to grab some pet food and the skanking 12 year old races past us; skanking legs out of control, ready to tackle a bag of Iams cat food should it dare get in his way. Stunning. Mesmerising! I want a camera following this kid 24/7.

So the grocery shopping slows and we get in line to check out. As healthy as my roommate wanted to be (and I think she did well), there were some snacks and chips and items she thought would prevent her from staying in shape. She felt a bit guilty. I assured her it was okay to endulge once in a while, which was met with a "yeah, I guess..." BUT THEN, two lanes over from us, we catch the Crazy Family. In their cart they have the following items: coffee, beer, and about 800 microwave pizzas. The sight was jaw-dropping. The father still was holding his shoes, the daughter still didn't have a clue, and the son was violently shaking in an attempt to not destroy the magazines and chocolate bars in the impulse buy section. Naturally, my roommate was immediately put at ease about her sugared and salted purchases.

Later that night, we told the story of The Three to others who, too, found it equal parts baffling and hysterical. Then, for some reason, they popped into my head today. But this time it wasn't as funny. I felt a bit of sorrow for them. How fair is it to judge on those who are perhaps less fortunate and socially disfunctional. Then I realized, "Hey, those guys were pretty fucking hilarious. For crying out loud, that guy was holding his shoes!" As long as there's coffee and beer in the house, I'm sure that family is all sorts of happy.

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