Soap operas and sweet potatoes in the produce aisle

I was in the grocery store the other day, when I happened to overhear an age old human drama play out over the sweet potatoes. One of the two men stocking the vegetables flagged down a passing produce manager to ask her advice on a logistical problem – I’m assuming she was higher up the food chain since she was wearing a classy full-length Safeway smock instead of lowly green apron.

Logistics resolved, the three got to chatting about the ol’ days:

“…Now, Harry,” said the older of the two men, “there was one heck of a produce man.” He spoke wistfully, with respect and an obvious, long kindled awe, the way other men speak of Winston Churchill, or Elvis.

“Oh,” cut in the younger man, turning to the woman, whose androgyny was cut only by a tight blond ponytail, “isn’t that your husband?”

Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear her whole body went tense under that smock. She suddenly had somewhere else to be and took off for the swinging doors behind the prepackaged salads.

“My EX husband,” she called back to the men, before disappearing into the bowels of the building.

I felt for her. How hard it must be to live in the shadow of a legend. Any man who can inspire such awe, such reverence, must pay a terrible cost. In choosing greatness, as Harry, and a hundred before him have done, our heroes must leave so many behind. A pickle any way you slice it.

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