Matthew Walsh

We were supposed to get food for the dinner that night, but we forgot. David had to get a massage with a gift certificate he had to use before New Year’s, and I spent the afternoon watching Netflix, watching it snow from the living-room window. I was staying at Patty and David’s, on winter vacation from school in Vancouver. I couldn’t leave the apartment, there was just too much snow.

When we remembered, halfway through Never Been Kissed, we startled ourselves off the couch. Patty would be pissed if she came home to no food. We had to get the food or Patty would kill us. It was already five p.m., on a holiday, and we could have done it. We had time. All we'd done was drink beer and watch White Chicks, that was it.

In the car, David passed me his phone to check what time the grocery stores closed. “Do you think I’m too drunk to drive?” he asked. We’d had only two beers each, over the course of four hours. I got lost in the math. I didn’t know. I thought we were fine, and I pictured Patty behind the wheel of her Toyota, darkness falling around the car, smelling like dogs and laboratories, and feeling lonely because all she did all day was test reflexes in large dogs for a study.

Darkness was falling over us too, and we pulled out in a wave of slush. Our tires spun and we ate the honey-roasted almonds David got in his stocking. “Gays like you survive off fancy foods, like roasted nuts.”

“Go fuck yourself,” I told him, laughing and scrolling on his phone. “No Frills is open ‘til six, it says,” I said, passing him the phone. We had ten minutes to get there and I was feeling tired. How could we have fucked this up? Patty was going to smother me in my sleep. She was going to kill me.

We ran and ran, David almost slipping on a wet stack of flyers that were sitting in the middle of the parking lot. A black Sedan revved its engine, stuck in the snow. We couldn’t stop. There was no time to help anyone but ourselves.

David grabbed a grocery cart and pushed it to the doors. They didn’t slide open, and some kid was inside mopping the floors. “Fuck five o’clock on New Years! Who closes at five o’clock on New Years?” David cried, confused, looking up at the sign, lit up big and green, his arms out to his sides like Jesus on the cross. The guy with the mop stopped working and unlocked the door. “I’m sorry,” he said, looking at both of us. “We’re closed.”

“I only need ten minutes. Ten minutes,” David said, looking past the kid, at the food. In the car, David wondered if take -out pizza would be so bad, or Tim Hortons sandwiches, anything.

David tossed me the phone again and we ripped out of the parking lot. “What other stores? Foodland? Would they be open? Fuck, Patty,” David said, shaking his head and looking out at the road. “We have to bring something back. Stop and get pizza, something. We can’t go back without anything,” he said, eyeing down the Pizza Hut, another Tim Hortons. “Patty is going to burn the place down,” he added.

“When we get home she will jump off the roof,” I said, scanning the landscape of car dealerships and closed restaurants. We drove passed Mystic Donuts, pizza places, dry cleaners. Then we saw Foodtown.

David made a quick illegal turn. We got out and ran through the slush between the cars in the parking lot. David picked up a flyer, but I swatted it out of his hand. “No time,” I said, and we went inside.

“But what did Patty want? Pork chops?” David said, stroking his beard. “Okay, what kind of salad did she want? Did you see the salad in the fridge?

“Can we get spinach?”

“Okay. Add it to the stuff we have already.” David’s hands were shaking.

“Or should we get mixed greens?”

“Mixed greens, okay. Should we get potatoes?”

“Yeah,” I said, going over to the produce section. “Here, someone already bagged some up.”

“We should get the little ones, the roasting ones, no? Patty likes those.”


“Anything else?”



We passed the bulk items section. “Should we get seeds or something to put on the salad?” David asked, picking up some sunflower seeds.

“She probably has those. That’s fancy.”

“Wasn’t there something else?

“I should get hors d’oeuvres,” I said, looking in the freezers for pre-made anything. Quiche, little tarts, anything to bring to Patty.

“No, rosemary,” David said, snapping his fingers and passing me the potatoes.

We looked at the herbs. There was everything but rosemary. I looked at David, and he looked at me. “Patty’s going to kill us,” I said. Patty had a life plan and we couldn’t even get stuff for dinner. And we didn’t have to cook, just pick the stuff up. Patty said she would cook, after working all day, just like Jesus would. David had come back from a massage and was supposed to do the shopping for the food but we watched White Chicks instead. It was all my fault. I had seduced him with White Chicks. White Chicks.

“She’s going to leave me,” David said. He shook his head, staring up at a water stain on the ceiling of the store. He looked back at the herbs, discouraged.

“We have thyme or chives? Thyme?” I asked him.

“That sounds good, get that,” David said with his eyes closed. He ran his fingers through his beard again and we went to look at the meat.

There were only a few pieces left. Two ten-dollar pieces and a pork shoulder. We didn’t know which was better, and David was sweating. A light went off in a northern corner of the store. We didn’t have much time left. David looked like he was going to shit himself. He stood there, his eyes blank. “The pork shoulder is more, but costs less,” he said finally. “But the little pieces are better quality.

“I should get hors d’oeuvres,” I said. I picked up two boxes that were only four dollars from another cooler. Spinach and cheese turnovers.

The cashier rang in everything together. Our cashier’s name was Jessica, and we piled everything onto her conveyer belt. “I’m so glad you are open,” David said to her. “Everyplace else is closed.

“Of course everything’s closed. It’s New Year’s Eve,” Jessica said. She was ringing and punching things in: the herbs, the potatoes, the meat. I was taking inventory, making sure everything was there.

“That sucks for you, though,” David said. “I was so excited to see you were open—I’m sorry to explode my excitedness all over you.” He handed her a twenty-dollar bill.

“It’s thirty-five eighty-two.” Jessica said, looking at the clock and then outside, where someone, maybe her mother, was smoking in a car right out front.

We stuck everything into a big box and David put it on top of the car and scratched his beard and fished his keys out of the pocket of his coat. He stared at his phone. “Don’t forget about the groceries on top,” I said, getting in the car.

“I think I need a coffee,” David said. We stopped at a Tim Hortons, getting stuck in the drive-thru line. David ordered two coffees and Boston cream donuts. He added up the things we’d ordered on his fingers before he pulled up to the pay window. “Patty’s going to hate those snacks you got,” he said, finally.

“She’ll secretly like them but won’t eat any.”

“She barely eats anything.”

“Her job ruins her appetite.”

“Working with dogs,” David said, nodding. They both worked at the same place, but Patty worked in a research lab and David did maintenance.

We smoked cigarettes and I opened the honey-roasted almonds. I ate some and David reached over and grabbed some. “We’re a fucking gay couple,” David said, popping the nuts into his mouth, “eating each other’s nuts.”

“And they’re honey-roasted,” I said, laughing. Straight guy jokes were so lame.

“Sweet and salty. Wait, did you get thyme or chives?”

“I got thyme.”

“I thought we discussed getting chives,” David said, thinking. His phone rang. It wasn’t Patty.

“Hi Mom,” David said, paying for the donuts and coffee and pulling away from the store. “Yeah, we’re going to come sleep at your place tonight. Yeah, I know you’ll be out, but... Yeah. I guess we’ll see you in the morning. Yeah, okay. Yes, thanks Mom. Okay. I know, I love you too. Bye. Haha, bye.”

“Patty’s not going to want to drive to Waterloo tonight.” I said. It was really snowing now and I was happy we’d managed to get the groceries and that all we had to do now was eat and drink beer.

When we saw her car outside, we yelled out loud. “No no no no no no.”

She was preheating the oven when we ran in the door, nearly falling on each other. She had showered and the place smelled soapy and fruity.

“Where the fuck were you guys?” she asked.

“We were trying to get everything for supper. You wouldn’t believe the lines. It was crazy. Completely nuts,” David said, putting some beers in the fridge. “Mark got these hors d’oeuvres you’re gonna hate.”

Patty looked into the bags and took the meat and vegetables out. “What the hell is this? Pork shoulder?”

I went and sat on the couch, out of the way, and David tried to get Patty to dance to the radio with him, but she kept slipping out of his arms.

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