bread, miscellaneous, drivel

…kindred spirits…

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For a long time I was fascinated by this – I still am, though not quite to the same degree of obsession – watching people in line at the grocery store, studying the contents of their baskets…

I can think of few things that offer a greater insight into the soul of a person, no greater psychological study of a mere stranger, a fairly complete and somewhat accurate survey of everything they are or aspire to be, then glimpsing at the groceries they lay out on the conveyor belt for the clerk to ring up.

Are you what you eat? Maybe. For the most part, though, what you eat is almost always something you buy. When you buy it, where, and how says a lot. At least to me. Seattle seems to be overrun lately, with people who routinely clog the lines with a larger phobia of plastic bags than salmonella. They’re the ones who throw weeping packages of free range (skinless and boneless) chicken breast on the conveyor, along with their organic broccoli, tomatoes and some odd brand of fruit juice that no child would ever drink by choice. If I didn’t know better, I’d believe that they’d be slinging their purchases – the ones swaddled up in a nifty macrame satchel – over their shoulder and then climb aboard something like a rickshaw, or at least a bicycle, for the trek home. Amazingly, they’re almost always the ones climbing into the biggest SUV in the parking lot, the one covered with all sorts of bumper stickers espousing their personal philosophy in two sentence quips for the whole world to digest at every stop light. And they’re always in front of you. Hurrying home to living rooms adorned with large paintings of whales, I imagine.

Most likely the reason I stopped watching so much is that there are far too many people like this here. I take that back because I still watch, and that I can’t help; I just pay much less attention. I don’t want to know more than I do about the culture here than I’ve already seen, lest it infects me in some adverse way…

Every once in a while, however, I do see something that sticks in my head… The woman in the aisle one over from where I am, a fresh loaf of bread clutched in her hands. It’s the only thing she’s buying and she doesn’t set it down on the conveyor. She slips it, instead, halfway out of the paper bag it’s been placed in, and standing there amid the bustle, closes her eyes and begins sniffing it. No. Not sniffing, inhaling it, rather, and deeply and without care. She’s in a totally different world as a huge smile begins to form on her face…

I understand this all too well – it’s the same thing that happens every time I make bread, something I simply cannot stop myself from doing, either. Maybe, it’s the only real reason I make bread, just to seize it from the oven and get lost in the aroma… I get, sometimes, critical of myself for being able to fall for things so easily, to become enamored with something, someone, so quickly and thoroughly, but seeing this makes me realize all over again why it happens and what for. I know this is exactly the sort of person I have a rapport with. People talk about things, desire and demand traits in others – that they must be some this or that; a certain religion, only drink occasionally, never smoke, a certain political persuasion…

I don’t care about things like that, not at all. The person who can get lost in the smell of fresh bread in the middle of grocery store? That, I know is a soul mate, a kindred spirit…

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