Monday, June 27, 2011

These People Have Families

It's Friday afternoon, and I'm on the bus. If you are from Cork, and you remember Friday, you'll know that the day was characterised by rain. Not bursts of passionate showers, not on-off drizzle, but consistent, wet, rain. The bus is wet and depressing, and little do I know that it's going to set the tone for the ensuing chain of events.

From where I'm sitting, I notice a bag of shopping falling off the little storage area at the top of the bus. Because I'm sitting far too close to the accident for it to be OK, social etiquette-wise, for me to just ignore it, I get up and start putting the spilled groceries back in the plastic bag. After a few seconds of this, I feel a hand on my shoulder. I look up. It's Michael Keaton.


No, not that Michael Keaton. The Other Michael Keaton. Let me explain.

There are two Michael Keatons. One of them is a successful actor and director, and rose to public prominence with his kooky character portrayals of Batman and that other Tim Burton thing.

Then there's the Other Michael Keaton, who is a borderline psychopath that visits my place of work every other day. The Other Michael Keaton smells like a damp wardrobe, and wears odd shoes. He is in his fifties, has hair down to his shoulders, and his eyes possess the sugary, unfocused glaze of the partially lobotomized.
Maybe it is unfair to call Other Michael Keaton a borderline psychopath, but he is undoubtedly crazy. Sometimes, Other Michael Keaton likes to talk to me about how he used to be a high-up in Microsoft, but was muscled out during key stages of development for the X-Box prototype. I've never spoken to a Vietnam veteran before, but I imagine the bitterness and unfathomable plot-holes in their anecdotes are about on a par.

I don't give OMK that much thought on a daily basis, but here he is, standing in front of me, while I put his renegade shopping back into his bag. I look at his shopping bag. It's so.. so normal. Eggs. Steak cutlets. Meringue nests, for Gods sake. Before he shuffles his bag away from me, I notice the plurality of his groceries. This is not a bachelors shopping bag. Other Michael Keaton has a family. Knowing what I do about Other Michael Keaton, I find this odd, that this weirdo has not only an income, but people he provides for. This is the last thing I think about as I see him get off the bus and shuffle down the street.

It is six hours later, and me and Sweeney are in Tescos. We've pooled our collective resources in order to buy dinner and booze, and have budgeted to the last chicken dipper.  We are by the condiments.

"We need salt." he declares
"Your house doesn't have salt?"
"No."
"Well then get some."

We review our money situation. Salt is not in the budget.

"We'll just have vinegar then."

We think about this in silence for a second.

"I don't think I can do that."
"Me neither."
"Caroline... I think we're going to have to shoplift some salt."

I stare blankly at him.

"You're not serious."
"Just a little. Not the whole pack. Enough for chips."
"Christ. Fine. Ok."

This is how I end up trying to "act casual" while Sweeney crouches on the floor of Tesco, pouring salt granules into an empty Strepsils packet I found in my handbag. As we saunter out, the Bonnie-and-Clyde of preservatives, I can't help but think about Other Michael Keaton. I bet he never has to do this kind of shit.


1 comment:

  1. How perfectly odd that he'd only think to take a little of the salt. As though there might be someone out there just completely torn up daily at the harsh reality that is this world what provides too much salt per pack. When one fateful day, this tortured soul should buy that very pack and find that it lasts for the right amount of days, but with the downside that they'd become so set on using up the salt, that they'd unknowingly started using more salt than normal. Thus, this poor man, who I'm going to say is named Phil, runs out of salt much too quickly. He can't stand it anymore. Like salt through the hourglass, so are the days of his tolerance. No more! he bitterly cries, waking his dog from his sleep. He pats Charlie the blue healer on the head and says "It's time Charlie...it's time we started buying in bulk". Charlie whimpers. Sad day. Ahem...anywho, I have to wonder, could you really not go without salt? Strange.

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