Would a worthless person eat sheep’s milk yogurt?
A HUNGOVER ENCOUNTER WITH A GOLDEN DOG AT LASSENS.
The grocery store is a miserable place, especially when hungover, like laundry drying out on a rack. I like doing laundry. I find it quite relaxing, said no sane person ever, and enjoying the aftermath of a tequila binge is even less normal. To be honest, I hate even being drunk; it only happens by accident. At this moment, a pleasant breeze feels like veritable assault.
Today I haven’t eaten a thing, my body full only of the yellow-nothing you find in the toilet after you’ve puked. My body is a war zone. Walgreens, “The Corner of Happy and Healthy,” the home of Gatorades and saltines, saviors and saints, and aspirin, king of them all, is my go-to fix, a second home. But that’s next door. That’s not here.
Here at Lassens, I am a fish out of water. A fish whose New Year’s resolution is to eat more yogurt and probiotics and less aspirin and fruit-punch Gatorade. I’m trying something new. I’m attempting a holistic view, so I browse the aisles, choosing some bread and butter pickles, kombucha, yogurt. I’m feeling so shitty that I search out the most expensive options just to soothe the voice telling me how worthless I am. Would a worthless person eat sheep’s milk yogurt, I retort out loud, and notice a golden retriever sitting silently beside me, scanning the dairy fridge like he owns a credit card. But don’t golden retrievers always exude wealth? The way they toss their silky fur, smile full-mouth like idiots, like they might buy the store and then forget they ever owned it. It’s that hair, isn’t it?
I begin to feel like this dog is taunting me. Like the carefree way it sits in the aisle (loitering, if we’re being frank), jaw agape as if grinning, speaks to the fact that he’s never wanted for anything a day in his life. And if he sat here all day long, not a single person would bother him. Meanwhile, I feel a sense of urgency in my shopping—I know that if I stand here too long or appear lost for a moment, the employees will figure out I was not breastfed as a baby and basically raised in a mall and therefore a lost cause in terms of replenishing nutrients, and I will be asked to never again enter any store with a leaf in its logo. So I’ve got to seem like I know what I’m doing, even though I don’t. I have no idea and no good bacteria either.
I close the fridge door and move on to the next case—all kefirs. The dog looks at me like I might offer it a nice pat on the head. Honestly, it’s hard to relate to a dog that has no worries, but I try. Because I don’t want to hate an animal and because I know on a deeper level that my disdain of him easily translates to humans.
This dog and I share an interest in refrigerated foods, and couldn’t that be our Paris? It might not be enough to bridge our differences, but perhaps it’s a way in. We’d discuss yogurt, then shelf-stable foods, then move on to economics, the harsh realities of medical insurance, human women’s suffrage, and also how that Ted Leo cover of “Since You’ve Been Gone” that bridges into “Maps” really just works somehow, you know?—we’d work our way together. Little by little, paws and hands intertwined, my golden friend and I could build up a world in which there’s some resolution, or at least a common ground on which I don’t resent a smug pup who has never had to consider the price of yogurt, much less the value of pop rock covers.
My sense of smell has risen to the height of a Minnie Ripperton note and I feel like I might need to get out of this place before someone inevitably walks by wearing any amount of patchouli. I hold up a plastic carafe of strawberry kefir and read its ingredients, and the dog shifts from one paw to the other. I make eye contact. I smile, but not in a sexy way—in a LinkedIn professional way. Would a worthless person have twenty views on LinkedIn this week alone? I ask the dog, who I fully expect to be impressed, but he’s tough to read. I remove my glasses to clean them and think everything looks equally fuzzy and beautiful. I decide to give up trying to love this particular dog, and to work on bridging differences with human people once I’m not hungover. And I still sort of want to throw up. —Miranda Tsang