We couldn’t avoid shopping at the same location since we lived in the same city, and we both
enjoyed the Paisley Farm Pickled Brussel Sprouts that only Village Market sold, which is where
I first met Jenny. We both went for the same jar, and that would be the scene in the Hallmark Movie where each other’s world gets turned around in the right direction and leads to the ending
where each other’s life is complete. That didn’t happen to me. We all know that happens maybe .5% here in the real show. But, she did tell me how good the Eggplant Parmesan was, how the sauce is all homemade by Antonio’s mother, how the kids and grandkids wanted to jar it and sell it, and how grandma said: “Only when I’m dead because it will never taste the same, let them take the blame, not me.”
So, I started buying it. After a couple of months of seeing Jenny at the market, I thought: Eggplant Parmesan was the perfect opportunity to invite her to dinner, but instead of the usual Charles Shaw Chardonnay, she said she bought from Trader Joe’s, I could buy the Charles Shaw White Zinfandel and surprise her—at least it wouldn’t be Eggplant Parmesan as usual.
So, the next time I saw her I said,
“Hey there, did you get your brussel sprouts?”
Oh yes, I bought three jars,” then she looked at me with a bit of embarrassment, “But, there are
“That’s ok, I can get them the next time I come in.”
“You should tell Antonio he’s out and to order more.”
And, just when I was about to suggest we get together for dinner, her cellphone rang:
“Hi honey, I’m at Village Market. Yeah, I’m getting the pickled brussel sprouts. Sure, I can stop at Trader Joe’s and pick up the wine, and oh yeah, Nancey just got her new Mercedes AMG-GT, so I’m going to stop by and see that—” all the while trying to smile at me with that, not to be rude, but, maybe you see I’m on the phone so say goodbye, smile.
I’m not dense, so I waved goodbye. She smiled even wider, and nodded goodbye as best she could with her phone on her shoulder, against her ear, while she tried to organize her cart.
I walked away, headed to the wine section, picked up a bottle of Woodbridge White Zinfandel, then headed over to the prepared foods section, and ordered a one-person portion of Eggplant Parmesan. Jimmy, behind the counter, apologized five times to me because they were out,
“But, we have Veal Parmesan.”
I almost said, disgusting, but instead, “No, no, I’m fine.”
He suggested Baked Ziti with his, “Grandmother’s amazing sauce, who can turn that down?”
So, I ordered a one-person portion of that and headed towards the checkout.
I watched my stuff roll up the belt, then Bella said,
“Hey there, how are you today? Oh, I see you’re trying the Baked Ziti this time. I just love that. You know, it has my grandma’s homemade sauce?”
“ Yes. I know.” She is always cheerful so I figured I should be cheerful too. “I really love that
sauce. It reminds me of my grandmother’s.”
She scanned everything I had, looked around to scan more, then popped her head up with a kinda—oh, poor guy, everything is going to be ok, look. “No brussel sprouts today?”
And I could’ve said, “No, I guess Jenny has it all.”
And Bella could’ve replied, “Well, there is more where that came from.”
But, that never happened. All I did was shrug my shoulders and say, “Thanks for double- bagging,” and walked out trying to channel some healing Hallmark vibes because I couldn’t stop believing Jenny never really liked Paisley Farm Pickled Brussel Sprouts, or Charles Shaw Chardonnay—it was always the, “Hi Honey,” on the other line.
And, as I was about to get into my Subaru Station Wagon, I thought: the only way I can get past
all of this and somehow feel complete is believing Jenny and I will always have Eggplant
David Calogero Centorbi is a writer living in Detroit, MI. Recently published work in The Daily Drunk, Dreams Walking, Versification, Brown Bag Online, Horror Sleaze Trash, Anti-Heroin Chic, Crow Name, and Crepe & Pen. He can be found here on Twitter: @DavidCaCentorbi.