Saturday at Whole Foods

whole-foods11I was at Whole Foods, studying the organic bananas and attempting to sort the very green ones from the less green ones in the weird light cast by the environmentally correct light bulbs. It was cold in the produce department, the refrigerated cases lining the walls sent a chill into the air.  I thought longingly of the sweatshirt I’d left in my car, and started rubbing my hands together, very fast, trying to generate some heat. This drew the attention of the man next to me, a tall guy with a gentle face, who was pondering the heirloom tomatoes.

“I’m cold,” I explained.

He nodded thoughtfully.  “Well,” he said, in a slow, deep drawl, “of course you are.  It’s cold in here.  I don’t know why they do that.”  He glanced around, looking for someone to complain to, but there were no Whole Foods employees nearby.  So he sighed and returned to meditating on the tomatoes.  “What do I know,” he muttered. “I voted for Mondale.”

Mondale?  Wasn’t that like, 1988?  I felt disoriented, but I didn’t want to be rude.

“I voted for Mondale too,” I said.

Encouraged, my new tall friend looked up from the tomatoes.  “I believed him when he said he tried pot, but didn’t inhale.”

“Ummm,” I said, “that was Clinton – ”

“What’s worse?” he demanded, pulling himself up to his full height, and spreading his arms wide. “Lying about sex, or lying about a war?”

“Lying about a war,” I said.  I was pretty sure that was the answer he was going for.

He sighed again, and shook his head.  “I don’t get it,” he said.  “I just don’t get it.”  He moved on to the wild mushrooms.

Later, the produce department ran low on plastic bags, causing a minor frenzy until the hipster shoppers pulled themselves together and formed a line behind the one remaining roll.  I was after a tall, attractive man I figured must be some sort of celebrity; when it was his turn, he pulled off one, two, three, four bags, then turned, smiled, and gave two to me.  I thanked him, trying not to blush, and quickly made my way to one of the refrigerated cases, where an old woman in Birkenstocks tried to sell me on the benefits of okra.  “It’s good for stews,” she said.  “And digestion.”  She pursed up her lips. “Mucilage,” she said.

I threw some okra into one of my bags. She nodded approvingly and moved on.

Afterwards, making my way back to my car, a guy caught my eye and grinned, and we both started to laugh, in a punch drunk kind of way, two survivors of a Whole Foods shopping trip on a Saturday morning, wheeling out loaded carts of hip groceries.

It was pretty funny. Even if you did vote for Mondale.

(A-Z Blogging Challenge: W is for Whole Foods)

Obvious Child

Obvious ChildHave you heard about Indiana’s governor Mike Pence? He’s put such restrictive abortion laws in place in Indiana that a group of Hoosier women have taken to calling his office regularly, to let him know how their reproductive systems are functioning.  They figure, he’s so interested in what their bodies are doing, they should keep him posted.  All the time.

A typical exchange:

Them: “Good Morning, Governor Pence’s office”

Me: “Good Morning. I just wanted to inform the Governor that things seem to be drying up today. No babies seem to be up in there. Okay?”

Among the restrictions in a recent law promoted and signed by Pence is the requirement that the “remains” from miscarriages be buried or burned.  This could be tough, since women who miscarry early just experience what amounts to a heavy period; there are no discernible “remains” to bury. Sometimes the pregnancy ends before a woman is even sure she is pregnant, which begs the question, how will the government know?

Well, I guess in Indiana, you can just call the governor’s office and ask him what he thinks.

The Periods for Pence movement got me thinking about a lovely little film that came out a few years ago called Obvious Child. Jenny Slate, in a terrific performance, plays a struggling comedian named Donna who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand. She chooses to get an abortion, but that’s not what the movie is about – instead, the question she struggles with is when, and how, or even if she will tell the young man she slept with that their evening together had an unplanned result. The two of them cross paths, and miss signals, and otherwise mess up opportunities to spend time together, all while she is carrying the responsibility of telling him she’s pregnant. It’s a bit like a romantic comedy, with a very topical twist.

The beauty of this film is in the understated way it approaches the story.  This isn’t about politics, there are no ideological screeds or protesters or horrified family members with strong ideological positions. On the contrary, it’s one woman’s story told entirely from her point of view – and that makes it unique among films in general, regardless of subject matter. Anyone who has ever been young and independent and female will feel a personal connection to this movie. And the filmmaker – Gillian Robespierre – manages to find the humor in this emotionally charged situation, so we are laughing (frequently) with these young people while we are pulling for them to figure everything out.

Obvious Child got a lot of attention on the Indie Film Festival circuit, with both the film and Jenny Slate receiving nominations and awards.  Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

(A-Z Challenge: O is for Obvious Child)