“1 grande caramel macchiato!” My brother coolly pulls out two cards from his wallet. “Pick one up for yourself, too. You can get a free grande espresso drink.”
“Thanks brother. Do you want whipped cream?” I ask.
“Yeah, yeah. Everything on it.” I pocket the cards along with my debit card and head towards the front door. A shiny red pair of knee-high boots, I don, for the blizzard (despite having started not too long ago) already accumulated enough of a snow height to deem my regular snow boots pathetic. This kind of snow would pile into those babies in an instant.
“I’m going to CVS,” I announce to no one in particular, as I turn and pull on the brass knob of the front door. “Do you guys want anything?”
I think I hear a soft “No,” so I swing my body past the door.
“Wait. JUST WAIT! Don’t go yet,” A deep voice calls out. Madly waving a fistful of cash in one hand and reaching forward with the other, my father hastens in my direction. His heavy, labored footsteps catch my attention just before the door shuts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him run in my life. Must be important.
Instinctively –like saving an elevator door for a latecomer (Sometimes, I’m a “doors close” tapper; sometimes, I’m a good guy. Today, I feel like being the latter)– I kick a heel back, propping open a slice wide enough to slip a hand through. My father shoves thirty dollars through the gap, along with a rushed voice, requesting “two whole chickens from Boston Market, too.”
I can hear my brother from inside the apartment screaming, “Chips! Chips, too, please!”
Staring at the space above my head, as if mentally visualizing a college-ruled checklist, I slowly list the items from memory, “Okay. Snacks for myself. Ricola cough drops. 2 espresso drinks, including 1 grande caramel macchiato?” I intentionally speak louder as the question progresses, to see if my brother corrects me. He doesn’t.
“And… 2 chickens. Chips. Anything else?”
On cue, my mother’s voice chimes in. “I have 4 dollars to use at CVS and they expire this month. Here, but you have to take this tag.” Handing me a heavy set of keys, with every retail store tag (in the world, I presume) attached by a key ring, she adds to the top a receipt and a Starbucks gift card. “Oh, and get me a coffee. I want a 1 to 2 second pour of their half-and-half, no suga…”
“Me too.” My dad interrupts,”But I want a grande decaf coffee, no milk, no sugar.”
“Okay. Hold up.” Eyes still looking up, I read off the list: “Ricola cough drops, chips, 2 chickens, 1 grande carmac, 1 decaf no milk no sugar, 1 grande cafe latte, 1… Do you want a grande, too, Mom?”
“I don’t care. I want a medium.”
“That’s a grande.”
“I don’t want grande. Get me a small, medium. That thing.”
“A small or a medium? It’s not the same.”
“A large. A grande. No, a small. Medium. You’re confusing me. It doesn’t matter.”
“…Ok. 1 grande coffee, 1 to 2 second pour of half-and-half, no sugar. That’s it, right? Can I go now?”
“Meatloaf! Get meatloaf! I don’t want to eat the chicken.” (Brother)
“Forget the chickens. No one’s going to eat the chicken.” She quickly glances at my dad then back to me. “You know, he’s buying one for each of you.” (Mom)
“What? Why? I never asked for chicken. Why would I eat a whole chicken?” I turn to face him. “Are the chickens for you to eat?”
“So, Jae’s not eating it. I’m not eating it. Mom’s definitely not eating it. You’re not eating it. So why am I picking up 2 whole chickens. WHAT’S UP WITH THE CHICKENS?” (Me)
“Boston Market isn’t even open,” Simultaneously laughing and lovingly pushing his sunken frame away from the door, she waves the back of her hand towards me. “Ignore him. Don’t get the chickens.” (Mom)
“So no chickens.” (Me)
“No, two.” (Dad)
“Whatever you want. As long as it’s not for me.” (Me)
Sheepishly, he shrugs. “You two should eat more chicken.”
“Chips! Did you hear me? Chips.” (Brother)
“Forget the chicken!!!!” (Mom)
“Ok, just buy a ton of sides then. Like mashed potatoes.” (Dad)
“Alright, but am I still buying the chickens?” (Me)
I kick the door fully open and step back inside. This, I see, is going to take a while.