He didn’t enjoy open air shopping. He didn’t particularly enjoy shopping. It was partly the idea of spending his money, but it was more so the realization that he didn’t have enough money to spend. There was so much that he could buy gladly if he had unlimited funds, but due to the harsh reality of money trees being a thing of dreams, he was forced to ungladly walk past beautiful windows of consumerism.
She, however, enjoyed it. She didn’t need to buy everything. She didn’t even seem to want everything. She was content with one or two expensive items and then enthralled with items that came cheaper, but held, in someone’s mind, a heftier price tag. She considered herself a savvy shopper who wasn’t taken in by the wiles of advertising. He thought that walking the gauntlet of stores was being taken in, even if you didn’t go in, which she always did.
His annoyance was offset by the pleasure of walking with her. It wasn’t the company so much as the comedy. He found it hilarious that one of his strides was equal to four of hers. She almost had to run to keep up with his aimless sauntering. It was this observation that made the afternoon worth all the feelings of materialistic loss.
He was approached, on the street, by a young man who carried himself with a strange confidence for someone of his obvious youth. This boy seemed to have the world, to put it crudely, by the balls. The youth’s demeanor disturbed him because he didn’t understand someone so young being so sure of himself in such a big world.
“Hey, my friend,” the kid was presumptuous to start. “Do you have an extra cigarette?”
He was instantly stricken with the horrible notion that he looked like someone who might actually have an extra cigarette. He wasn’t sure what the boy meant by extra either. He hadn’t realized that smokers have so many extras or leftovers in a pack. It always appeared as though they needed to smoke them all. But more importantly, what kind of person was he being confused as?
He had very little respect for people that had chosen to allow themselves to become addicted to cigarettes. How could he respect someone who was so vicious and vulgar to their body, reckless and violent with their health, putrid and petty with their person? Even those who seemed so bright, as soon as they lit a smoke, he would lose any adoration for them. Smoking was the blind spot of the intellectual. It took the words and ideas of the brilliant and cheapened them through yellow teeth. At a certain point, he would need to come to grips with the fact that some of the greatest minds actually fell prey and subjected themselves to the very thing he thought thirteen year olds should know better not to do. He wanted to forgive these geniuses under the rule that we all make mistakes, but more than ten times a day over and over and over again?
And now this child was accusing him of looking like someone who could be duped so easily. A dupe that seems to be the most extreme and enormous case of reverse psychology. He didn’t know how to respond. He wanted to punch the kid in the face for the insult, but then he wanted to shake him as if it would bring him to his senses. Instead of risking doing something he could be arrested for, he took her hand and started walking away. She smiled because she always loved holding his hand.
Then it hit him. It was her! She was the one who must look like someone who would have an extra cigarette. The youth must have asked him by association. He was relieved to come to that conclusion, because he would hate to come across as someone so stupid. His relief was short lived, however, because with it came the second realization that he was with someone who did look like someone who could make such a glaring error. He wasn’t sure how to react to this new theory. He dropped her hand and increased his pace a little bit. If she looked like someone who could actually be so foolish enough to smoke, at least he’d prove that she didn’t by making her run from store to store. He would show her respiratory system to be ash-free.