Friday, December 01, 2006

A Nice Piece of Fish

Every Friday, at the restaurant, fish and chips is on the menu. When I had my lunch break, Chef Anthony offered me a nice piece of fish. Of course I accepted. I moved to the chip bowl and put some chips on my plate, to go with it. I have been in England so long, I have stopped thinking "fries" and automatically think, "chips," now. While I was doing this, I noticed several patrons, next to me, dishing out new potatoes for themselves. "It's fish and chips," I thought to myself, "not fish and new potatoes, you muppets." Then I scurried over to the salad bar and dished out some of Chef Anthony's creamy cole slaw. A hot, nice piece of fish, chips, and some fresh cole slaw is my idea of a treat.
Later in the day, while I was working, Chef Anthony brought me another nice piece of fish, that was left over. This one I was taking home, so I could have it for dinner over the weekend. Chef Russell asked me what I was doing tonight. I told him that I was stopping at Tesco, on the way home, to buy some Tesco Value cole slaw and a few other items. Instead of stopping at the Tesco Superstore, near work, I decided to go to the Tesco on the other side of Bracknell, after dropping my time sheet off at the temp agency. The last time I went to the Superstore, they didn't have Tesco Value motor oil. Some rocket scientist decided to re-arrange segments of the Superstore, moving various departments around. The car care section has been moved and, for some reason, very little of the car care items are in stock. I needed oil for my car. The Tesco nearest my house, in Martins Heron, didn't have Tesco brand hot dogs, the other day. I hoped the Tesco on the other side of town would have both.
As I walked around the store, I noticed a lot of good looking, female shoppers. That always adds to the shopping experience. None of them tried to pick me up, though. The store did have Tesco Value motor oil and Tesco brand hot dogs in stock. I saw beer on sale and was tempted to buy some. Nando is moving in tomorrow and it would be nice to celebrate with a few drinks. My thrifty side won out, though, and I didn't buy any. I have several bottles of champagne at home, so we can drink that. Maybe Nando will get some beer. The only thing I wanted that they didn't have was Tesco Value apple and blackcurrent squash. Oh well, I have almost a full bottle at home, so I will just have to make that last the weekend.
When it was time to choose a checkout, I walked along, evaluating each cashier. I saw Corazon, but passed her by. Then I found the attractive, black woman, who's name turns out to be Ester, I joined the queue for her. I noticed she had changed her hair style. I didn't like the new style very much, preferring her previous style much more. In front of me was a woman with a child. She looked very young, herself. She had a lot of items, but I wasn't in a hurry. The British seem obsessed with putting the little, plastic dividers on the conveyor belt, between their items and the next person's. The woman in front of me plonked down a divider after she put the last of her stuff on the belt. As she had filled the belt, the divider ended up on the metal bit that the belt comes out of. As the belt moved, the divider didn't. I stared at it, bemused. I contemplated leaving it there and waiting for her to move it, but I ended up moving it myself.
I arranged my items on the belt, making sure to put the items on in the order I wanted to pack them. Following local convention, I placed a divider behind my shopping. For the moment, my whole world seem to be the ten items in the space between the dividers. A man joined the queue, behind me. I watched him placing his purchases on the belt. Do you do that? I love observing what the people around me are buying. First, this guy put on a couple of dark bottles of some alcoholic beverage. Then a couple of more bottles, then some wine bottles, followed by some more wine bottles. Was booze all this guy was buying? Then a case of wine from France. Now he did something different. He put some Cadbury's chocolate on, then two music CDs. He places the CDs face down, so I couldn't see which artists he'd bought. Was he throwing a party? Maybe he was planning a romantic night with his girlfriend. I so wanted to ask him what CDs he was buying. Maybe I could give him some pointers. I did used to be a DJ. The tart in front of me had loads of stuff. I wanted to say to her, "you don't really need all that."
I wonder what anyone looking at my purchases would think? Tesco Value cole slaw, Tesco Value potato salad, a bottle of Tesco Value still water, two liters of Tesco Value motor oil, a package of Tesco beansprout stirfry mix, a package of ten Tesco brand hot dogs, a package of Tesco brand Nutty nougat and caramel bars, and two boxes of Popz microwave popcorn (buy one get one free). Looks like a bachelor's shopping, doesn't it? The woman in front of me had a total bill of £111 and a bit. I have never spent that much in one visit to the Supermarket. At today's exchange rate,that'ss close on $200, U.S. Where does she get the money to spend so freely? Is she a hooker? Ester, the cashier, recognized me. "You've changed your hair," I said. She admitted she had. "Who did you change it for?"
"My husband," she answered. Ah-ha! I managed to acquire marital status information, without giving away that I fancied her.
"Did he threaten to beat you, if you didn't change it?" I might as well entertain myself, being silly, as she's married. Ester denied that her husband had threatened her. I struggled trying to open one of the bags, to put my shopping in. Ester must have felt sorry for me, because she stated packing the second bag for me. "I used to be married," I informed her.
"Used to be? What happened?"
Come on Ester, work it out. "She was a bad woman," I offered. "No good."
"Maybe it was you," Ester suggested.
"It definitely wasn't me," I replied. "She was no good, no good," I repeated, doing my best impression of broken English. I have gotten into the habit of speaking broken English, like Jum, at work, does, to entertain myself. "I looked for her in here, today, but no see her." Everytime I see an oriental woman, when I am out, I look her over to make sure it's not my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen.
"Well, keep looking and eventually you will find the right woman," Ester advised. Maybe I had already? Maybe Paula, the Great Michelle, or Lucas was the right woman, but I blew it? My shopping total came to eight quid and change. I walked out into the dark, rainy evening, with my shopping. I may not have any love in my life, but at least I have a free, nice piece of fish for dinner this weekend.


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