Yesterday, having use of a car, the Lad and I went to Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t able to look around much until we were standing in line, since before that I was busy frantically darting through crowds in search of sundried tomatoes and cornbread mix, and once I did I was startled. Everyone waiting in line looked like us; in the other lines too. The store was full of young, single-household urban couples. Or maybe not quite like us: they had black, shaggy bangs, vegan-thin waists, and carts full of fat-free cottage cheese, organic applesauce and vegetable chips. We had industrial-strength pants and a cart full of $100 worth of beer. Still, we were their reflections in a distorted mirror, all of us flirting with our significant others and idly browsing the gourmet mints in the impulse-buy section. It was beautiful. It was like taking a warm bath in me me me.
The Lad, unphased by this, said calmly, “Look, it’s tall Jason.” Sure enough, a taller version of our Jason was behind the register, unshaven, swarthy, bespectacled and smiling the unmistakable Jason smile. It was downright eerie. I looked around, expecting to see another Sean, full of baseball statistics but a little less funny, maybe, examining the instant Basmati rice. Or a second Jack, red-bearded and relentless, in the dried fruit aisle. That I didn’t I ascribe to the crowds and not to a lack of repetition. It’s nice to know, sort of, that we have other options out there–if one of us dies or disappears, we only have to shake the city like a Yahtzee cup and some new Michele or Christine will come rattling out, lacking only a few shared jokes to make them one of us again.