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A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis

3.
Dee often felt sorry for people that had to sit beside her in traffic. She liked her coffee strong and her music loud. She also liked to sing along and would often nod unashamedly at the unfortunates stuck beside her as they rolled up their car windows.
She loved her little Jetta. The sound system came stock with the car which was, by far, the nicest and most dependable model she ever owned. It was also her first brand new car. She’d made the down payment with last years’ Christmas bonus from her former employer.
Stopped at one of LA’s many traffic lights, Dee sang at top of her lungs, idly wondering how delinquent her payments could get before the dealership sent out the repo-men.
It was still Friday and with her clothes smelling Tide-fresh, Dee felt invigorated on her way to the local grocery store.
As she drifted through the crowded parking lot, a compact space near the front of the store opened up. Dee hooked the wheel left and snagged it. On her way inside, she noted the spot was also close to two Basket Return stalls and smiled at the small stroke of luck.
Inside the store, Dee pushed her cart, feeling dazed by the ridiculous amount of devilish makeup and costumes that cluttered the stores usually neat aisles. But it wasn’t long before her drifting gaze came to stop on the enormous display of Halloween candies.
No, she told herself and moved on.
Dee didn’t need much. Just odds and ends and she was running low on Cup ‘O’ Noodles. She didn’t need candy. There were never trick-or-treaters in her building.
Standing in the slow check-out line, Dee stared at her microwave food products. She was going to get high cholesterol if she didn’t start eating better. And she wanted sugar. Badly. But it made her lazy and Dee had too much to do. As the conveyor belt rolled forward, her sugar craving grew ravenous. Turning to her right, Dee searched the small display of candy bars. They had Reeses. Well, the holiday version shaped like pumpkins.
Dee turned to the check-out clerk mindlessly swiping her items. “Excuse me. Do you have the regular peanut butter cups?”
“There should be a box of them on the third shelf.” The girl gestured to the very spot where the pumpkin shaped confections rested.
Dee smiled. “I don’t mean the jack-o-lanterns. I’m looking for the standard, round cups.”
The clerk’s forehead crumpled. Dee was not surprised. No one understood her aversion.
“I need the flat, even cups. Those lumpy pumpkin things don’t taste the same. The mound-shape throws off the chocolate to peanut butter ratio.” Dee didn’t indulge her sugar addiction as often as she used to. When she did, though, she had to get what she wanted or the splurge was pointless.
All her items were scanned. And still, the check-out girl just stared at her. “I don’t understand. Aren’t they the same chocolate and peanut butter?”
Dee could see that the line behind her had doubled in size. “Yes. They are.” She dug into her wallet. “But they don’t taste the same. I need even distribution. The peanut butter in the holiday shape is too thick. I prefer the regular cups. Do you have any of those?”
Dee noticed more than a few wry smiles on the faces of surrounding customers. Every time she explained this eccentricity of hers, people shook their heads as if it were unbelievable. It wasn’t as if she was asking the Reeses’ company to separate the peanut butter and chocolate, she simply wanted some consistency.
The checker shook her head and took Dee’s payment. “If you don’t see them over there, then we don’t have them. Sorry.”
Dee pushed her basket out to the parking lot, still craving sugar. Her car cheerily chirped when she pressed the key fob. If Dee hadn’t been so hangry, she might have smiled.
After placing her bags in the car, Dee found herself in the middle of another conundrum. Her car was in the exact middle space between two basket returns. And Dee could not decide which one was closest.

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This is a Larry David moment, Dee thought, laughing to herself. It was the type of simple issue that the brilliant writer Larry David — co-creator of Seinfeld which birthed the terms ‘close-talker’, ‘man-hands,’ and ‘chat-and-cut,’ — might write about. The type of silly social awkwardness that made Dee laugh her ass off. She was tempted to take the time to count the steps between the car and return stall.
“This one’s closer.”
Dee turned in the direction of the voice and was dumbstruck. Parked just beside her Jetta, was a king cab pickup; white with barrels of paint and ladders strewn in the back. There was a man standing behind it. He looked to be Dee’s age, with soft brown hair that hung smoothly to the tops of his shoulders and big blue eyes.
“What?” Dee managed to ask, taken aback by the striking masculinity staring back at her.
“This cart return,” he pointed to the right, “is closer than that one.” He shook his head almost like he was embarrassed and Dee nearly fainted.
Damn. He was pretty. Masculine, but beautiful. Like Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise pretty.
He was Jared Leto pretty.
And he was talking to Dee.
“I’m sorry. It’s just… you looked like you couldn’t decide. I figured since most people don’t bother to return the baskets in the first place, that you were probably looking for the most efficient way—” He shut his mouth and walked towards her, reaching.
Dee’s heart sputtered to a stop and picked up again, double-time as Mister Gorgeous came within striking distance. Then he was inches away, passing a hand in front of her. Dee took a deep breath. Oh, he smelled better than he looked.
How the hell is that possible?
“I’ll just take this for you.” He smiled. And she stopped breathing. “You have a nice day.”
She watched him walk through the parking lot, taking her empty basket with him into the store

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