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Entry 4 -- Liars, Preachers, and Fish

"How long is it going to take to change the oil in my truck?" I ask the pale somewhat flaccid looking creature standing behind the counter at Fast Oil which is across the parking lot from the strip mall behind the South End Mall where they sometimes chase home Oisin because they have an allergy to boys who ride bicycles.

There is a disgusting tale about the virtues of country life which describes such creatures as the one waiting on me as super strong and industrious. There are also authors who describe them as real life Kallikaks. True, there is a tired look to many of the old people as we who have just come to Greenup call the folks who have been here forever, especially those who live outside town in the various hollows. Old people have a different look about them, washed out, pale, slow moving and kind of tired.

"Just a few minutes," drawls the creature behind the counter. I can hear the country twang in his voice. That, however, is not what is irritating me.

"You'd keep more customers if you didn't lie," I spit back at him. He's not ready for such an abrupt comment. He flinches. I have no sympathy. "There are six cars waiting for oil changes in the parking lot."

"Well if you don't want to wait...." he replies, "don't bring your truck in when it's busy."

"It's always busy," I retort. "Look, I know I've got a wait. I asked you how long? You can be honest about it. I'm going to shop and run errands while the truck waits. I want to know when to be back. That's all. Now what's an accurate ETA?"

"A what?"

"ETA. It means estimated time of arrival."

"I reckon about an hour and a half," says the young man who is learning. All it takes is someone to teach him. If he worked at R & O Printing and All Color Sign, I'd teach him in an afternoon.

I feel like I'm playing hooky from work as I head across the parking lot. Actually, morning is when we are the least busy so it's when Orel, my boyfriend, can spare me to run errands we have to run. We are running out of food. I need to get the oil changed in the truck. I want to check out the sale at Lindstrom's Army and Navy store since Orel needs new pants. I won't buy him clothes, but I'll tell them if they have his size and the kind he likes. He only likes one kind. Oisin at least will try something new. Oisin is also a small but easy to find size.

I start with the Army and Navy Store. Their stuff is picked over all ready. We'll order the pants from Penny's for the men, and I head next to the supermarket. Yes, we have a Hanaford's. Yes, they are well stocked and the prices are not bad either.

I start out in produce and get some canned goods and staples, and then head towards the fish department. It's in the back of the store. They call it the seafood department, but I really am not fond of those things with shells and claws. I might eat sea scallops or clam chowder from a can or fried clam strips, but really, I prefer regular fish.

That is when I see the preacher, Pastor Davis, on the line in the store bakery. I wave, smile, and do the customer service thing, but I need a number for fish. I want two pounds of pollock fillets from which to make New York style fish soup. Yes, I have family from the Jersey shore. I have family in lots of places So too, does Orel. The red fish soup is just something I grew up eating. The milky rich chowders that New England folks like don't taste half as good as a nice tomato based fish and vegetable soup, and I won't even make this soup from odds and ends. This will be all good first run stuff. Yes, I know the difference, and so too probably does everyone else.

I'm thinking about this when I notice Pastor Davis edging up to the fish case to gawk. A lot of people do this. A lot of people find fish alien food. I notice that Pastor Davis has a big bag of store doughnuts. All right I eat too much myself, but doughnuts are an indulgence I avoid. If I want baked goods, I make baked goods.

"Hi Aliza. there's not many people who can pass up doughnuts to stand in line for fish," Pastor Davis observes. "It depends what you like for dinner," I answer. "They've got good, plain, frozen fish too here. It's nice we've got a store with fish this far inland."

"I guess you can think of it that way," answers Pastor Davis. I get a good look at the pastor who is wearing a Bugs Bunny shirt. This must be his day off. He is out to get doughnuts.

"So we're both taking a break from work," comments Pastor Davis.

"If I don't shop, we have no food and if I send my boyfriend, he doesn't plan menus with any variety. It's easier for me to handle this end of the operation."

Just then my number comes up. Pastor Davis watches the Korean lady behind the counter wrap up my order, weigh it, and price it. "What kind of fish is that?" he asks.

"Polluck," I answered.

"How do you cook that?" he asks.

"I'm making Manhattan style fish chowder for supper," I reply, and no preacher, you're not invited.

"I like the New England style myself, but my wife never makes any kind of chowder."

"That's a shame. It's very easy. Would you like me to email you the recipe?"

" thanks," answers the preacher who decides he has had enough of both the fish and me.

After he goes, I decide I prefer Ruth Goldfarb's company. Manhattan style fish chowder might not be a dish fancy enough for her liking, but at least she probably eats fish. I also decide I'm going to make a white cake with maraschino cherries and pecans in it, an elegant thing that doesn't have to be iced since high class folks like the Goldfarbs make a pretense of disliking cake with icing. Quite a few like it, but for some that pretense is genuine.

I wonder if Pastor Davis knows he'll alienate any of the fish eaters in his congregation. I am sure, by the way, that there are Christians who eat fish.

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