The items needed from the superstore grocery section were: tomatoes,
a jar of mayonnaise, bread, strawberries, celery, onions, lemons,
bananas and Greek yogurt.
"Fine. No problem," he responded to his mother's
"I need the fruit for my smoothies, and I want to make
some potato salad. By the way, thanks for picking up a sack
"Give me the list so I don't forget anything."
The housebound matron handed her son the piece of paper once
he walked over to where she was sitting with her arm extended.
"Put an apple pie, too," she dictated as he turned
away to leave. "Need a pen?"
"Nope. I have one," he said pointing to his shirt
pocket. "Do you have a pencil?"
"Over in the cup."
She wagged her pointy-finger without specifying a particular
As a child, he wondered how blunt the pencil lead sharpness
would have to be not to snag or tear a one-ply napkin; instead,
the graphite smeared after her delicate cursive scribble was
applied to the quilt-like surface. He already knew how absorbent
the napkins were when used to dab the kitchen tablecloth following
a cereal bowl spill; however, those with chores written disintegrated
into a pulpy mush, in most cases based upon the control group.
Given the present day context, asking her for a pencil was a
"Doesn't that mechanism include a pencil?"
Decades since, his mother transitioned her itemizations to
recycled printouts of email footers explaining how to update
correspondence preferences or how to unsubscribe in toto. Occasionally,
she would cut three by two inch strips from the salvaged paper
so that the scrawled reminders could be tucked between pages
of her habit-tracking journal.
After adding the crusty dessert to the list, he slid the note
and returned his multifunction writing instrument to his shirt
"Be certain to fill your gas tank," she commanded
while gesturing 'shoo'.
"Text me if you think of anything else you want from the