I’m walking with my Father to the dollar store, to see if they have reading glasses. If they don’t, we will walk further to the Rite Aid, where I know for sure they have reading glasses.
I’m glad for this short journey, because it’s early in the evening — too early to go to bed. And this gives us something to do. Enough to do. We walk down Foster Avenue in Brooklyn. It’s Fall. It’s been cooler the past couple of nights, but there’s a slight late summer humidity persisting. My dad is walking fast. Faster than I might want to, but suddenly I’m game and walk fast too.
I have to go to the bank. Something I do a lot, but it takes on a certain piquancy with my father watching. He goes to the dollar store alone while I head to the brightly lit Bank Of America ATM enclosure to make a deposit. There are two young women in there when I enter. One is explaining something to the other one in an insistent yet forbearing and slightly amused tone. The other young woman is silent, listening. I look at them and the explaining one shrugs and gives me a what-are-you-gonna-do look as if I were in on the conversation — a trusted third friend instead of a rank stranger. I am a little caught off guard by her friendliness and offer an unready smile as they walk out.
My dad comes back to tell me, mid-deposit, that the one store didn’t have what he wanted and that he’s going two doors down to the other dollar store. I say ok. I finish the deposit and walk down to where he is coming out of the other dollar store. They have reading glasses but they aren’t what he is looking for.
“Too bright for my old ass,” he says. This is a call-back to a couple of days before, when we were in the dollar store and a woman came in looking for lipstick. The proprietor gestured to the lipstick display, which was all of a certain brand called “sugar,” and all vividly colored. “Too bright for my old ass,” the woman said, and walked out, prompting laughter from everyone in the store. My dad and I laugh together, remembering this. “I like that dollar store,” he says, by which he means, I think, that he likes the man behind the counter. There is something disarming and down-to-earth about him.
We head to the Rite Aid — the final stop in the search for reading glasses. We suspected all along it would be the place we end up finding them. I don’t mind the extra stops because they offer more chances to hang out with my father and show him my neighborhood. Also I like seeing what’s on sale at Rite Aid. Often they have peanuts on sale for half off, and I buy a bunch of them at once. Other things I look for: V8, low-sodium campbell’s soup, cereal, and cookies. I usually leave Rite-Aid laden with unhealthy food.
My father finds some glasses he likes and I find some peanuts and granola bars. For some reason the line at this Rite Aid gets long in a hurry and stays long. The wait is often long. It was tonight, and we stood for awhile. A man iss calling for his son. I can’t understand the name. “There he is,” the man behind us offers, pointing to a young boy running toward us. The man who had called takes his son by the shoulder and steers him gently toward the checkout counter. Some of the people behind the counter are more friendly than others. When it’s my Dad’s and my turn, We get a guy I like. He rings us up and we’re done. My father and I grab our plastic bags head back out into the slightly-dank night to go home.