051. The F in Free Enterprise is for Friendship. Maggie Walton

“What’s the worst time to get a cold?” asks the Walgreens ad on the radio and I rack my brain furiously. Fall? No, summer. Yes, that’s it, that’s my answer, it’s gotta be. 

“There’s never a good time,” the voice continues. Oh sweet lord! I howl at the ceiling and the lights flicker in the apartment next door as tears of mirth roll down my cheeks. They really had me going, I think, and boy oh boy is it true. I wipe my eyes with the hem of my Fruit of the Loom t-shirt. They really got me, I think. They really had me going. I’ve got to get to Walgreens. I google maps it. 13-minute walk. Sweet. 

A fake salesman tries to sell McDonalds a flame grill. The employee informs them that they don’t do that here, that maybe they should try over at Burger King. I am incensed. McDonalds doesn’t care what they shove down our throats, we’re faceless gluttons to them. I paw the carpet with my crisp Reebok, like a bull preparing to charge, and all the faucets in the building turn on. I carve “BK” with a fingernail into the arms of my plush La-Z-Boy as rubenesque burgers stack, slide, dance across my TV. Oh, how desperately I crave one of those tender, juicy flame grilled burgers from Burger King! They’re in the business of people, I think to myself. I can feel the pillowy bun, feel the trails of oil dripping down my chin as I sink – no, fall – into a whopper. I wipe an errant strand of drool with the hem of my Fruit of the Loom t-shirt. I gotta get me one of those burgers. Flame grilled, jesus fucking christ… life ain’t so bad. 

I didn’t know I needed a car. Now I know I don’t need a car…I need a Chevrolet. The salesman wears jeans, his beard is uncoiffed. I could drink a beer with this guy. These are my people. There’s no pretense here, no hidden fees. These cars are made for me and you, by me and you. I let my head fall back, staring at the ceiling, eyes at half mast, as warmth floods my limbs. My heart slows, thuds gently, and a soft wind slithers underneath the carpets in my home, lifting them as though they are breathing. This is what it’s about, this is what it’s been leading to. A man who owns a Chevy is a man who is loved, who can love. Overwhelmed, I cover my mouth with the hem of my Fruit of the Loom t-shirt, moistening it with my breath as tears well in my eyes, and a sharp joy tightens my chest. 

I am cared for. The eleven Chobani Mix’t Berries Low Fat Greek Yogurt Drinks in my Frigidaire nod in agreement. 

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