The Chicken-Pigeon, Wormageddon, and Walgreens
Once upon a time, I went to the same Walgreens regularly for a decade. I mainly went there because I could conveniently park in front of the door and I could conveniently stroll the entire store without feeling as if the walking were excessive and punitive. It was a nice contrast to the other Wal store.
The same kid worked there for years and was usually the one who checked me out at the register. He never smiled and his facial expression never changed. He would always look at my purchases, then look at me, then look back at my purchases.
Walgreens sells a lot of odd shit because they have that entire "As Seen on TV" aisle. Sometimes I buy the odd shit, even though I didn't see it on TV, because sometimes odd shit is captivating. One time I bought astronaut underwear -- which was basically an adult diaper with less stigma and a galaxy print. It was a gag gift...because I'm a generous person.
So, this Walgreens kid and I had a history, you see.
One night I couldn't sleep and I ended up watching hours of the most disgusting programming on the Discovery Channel or TLC about the stealth infections we carried unknowingly from parasites. I mean, the statistics were pretty damn convincing. And I had to see footage of worms being pulled out of human bodies. The thought of worms living inside my body is more than I can bear.
Then I remembered when I was roaming the Mexican countryside years prior and had ordered chicken from a shady roadside restaurant, except the chicken looked like an emaciated pigeon...and I ate that shit anyway. I had to take prescription medication when I returned from that trip to correct the GI problems. Perhaps my intestinal distress had been due to that particular chicken-pigeon encounter, perhaps not. Nevertheless, the chicken-pigeon has served in my mind as a culinary caveat for the last 20 years.
As I was researching online exactly what sorts of parasites humans can unwittingly host, the sun rose. I hadn't even been to bed, such was the height of my paranoia. Whether it was sleep deprivation or the quality programming, who knows, but I was convinced that I most likely had an undetected infection from some hideous parasite that was savaging my insides. Worms -- wiggling grotesque fuckers -- worms everywhere.
I googled the store hours of my local Walgreens. I would be there when they opened.
I hadn't slept at all, so my eyes were bloodshot, and I imagine I had a mildly manic air about me when I rushed into the store. I grabbed a shopping basket and headed back to the over-the-counter section where they sell all the weird stuff that is neither vitamin supplement in nature or first-aidish...such as gel shoe inserts and human dewormers.
They only had one deworming option, because obviously Walgreens management was unaware of the fucking crisis quietly occurring in the American gut. I bought their entire supply. I figured OTC shit wasn't as strong as Rx shit, therefore I needed to take more than the recommended dosage. Plus, years had passed since I consumed the chicken-pigeon, so who the hell knew what sort of fortified empire those parasites had created unabated inside of me.
Certain types of stress make me want sugar, and staying up all night repulsed by my own body qualified as a significantly stressful event. I made a detour through the candy aisle, before heading towards the cashier.
I have to admit, I was sorta hoping that kid wouldn't be there to check me out that morning. After all, he'd seen enough of my eccentric shopping choices and I was uncomfortable sharing my wormy nervous breakdown with him. I'm not a particularly strange person, but my Walgreens purchases painted a different picture, and that kid had been privy to nearly all my questionable item purchase days. He knew too fucking much already. He was becoming a problem to my anonymity as a consumer.
When I got up front, unfortunately, there was the Kid. Just waiting. Stoically. Expressionless. Youthfully ignorant that he was also probably dying from a stealth parasitic infection that a shocking number of Americans have.
I dumped out my 6 boxes of dewormer and 15 assorted candy bars on the counter. The Kid picked up the first box to scan and quizzically turned it over to read the back as if he needed to understand exactly what the hell I was buying. When he saw that I had an additional 5 boxes of the dewormer, he did seem to pause for a few confused moments. Then he dutifully scanned the remaining boxes before turning his sight to my mini mountain of 15 candy bars. It was the candy that seemed to really trip him up though. He just kept staring at me while slowly scanning each bar, as if I were going to do something of unsound mind right in front of him.
As I was backing out of my parking space, I saw him standing in the window watching me. Can't a woman with bedhead, bloodshot eyes, and a shellshocked expression buy 6 fucking boxes of human dewormer and 15 fucking candy bars without suspicion?! Ya can't make fucking bombs with dewormer and chocolate, so focus on the real terrorists, Kid, and forget what you just saw.
Although the cringeworthy expose' on television had shown a multitude of people being mortified by the results of deworming, I had no such revelation. I overdosed on that chalky shit and nothing happened. Trust me, I was not disappointed. But I did have some anger towards the medical horror show people. That was some sensationalistic, sloppy journalism they did with some fake ass statistics. It takes a real asshole to fuck with impressionable minds like that.
As for the Walgreens kid, he ended up developing a friendly familiarity with me. I'd go in, buy weird combinations of shit, and he took it all in stride after the dewormer episode. He'd bitch about his shitty work hours, his shitty relatives, and his shitty classes. I'd always respond, "Yeah, that is pretty shitty. Hang in there, it'll get better."
I was old enough to know things wouldn't get better, because life in general is just a shit fest that is barely tolerated with lots of unhealthy coping mechanisms and the rare sprinkling of good dopamine days, but I feel it's important that I dole out hope to the younger generation. That's what responsible, caring adults do -- we exaggerate how awesome the future is going to be for millennials, so they won't slit their wrists, thereby decreasing the already shrinking labor force even further. In addition to parasites, the economy concerns me. Fewer babies are being born, which means an imbalance in the younger workforce compared to the staggering number of Baby Boomer retirees. Social Security is bankrupt. Everybody is using birth control. And now we have parasites flying under the medical radar. It's a cluster fuck out there. Hope...we all need to spread that shit around.
I happened to go to Walgreens on December 21, 2012, which was the day the Mayan calendar predicted as the end of the world. The Kid informed me that a few of his friends had stopped paying their bills the month prior and were currently hiding out in their basement waiting on the world to end. We both had a good laugh over that one. Yes, the Kid and I had developed some twisted strain of acquaintance that allowed us to share the stupid shit that no one else wanted to hear.
Besides accepting me as a harmless, non-terrorist freak, the Kid made one other change after Wormageddon. Each and every time he checked me out, he would tell me which candy bars were new or on sale. He never mentioned dewormers or astronaut underwear, but he never fucking forgot about those 15 candy bars, that's for sure.
I made some changes myself after the parasite cleanse. I no longer watch health related shows. No. Fuck all that. I don't need that sort of fear in my life.
And I will never ever ever eat another chicken-pigeon. I will not eat chicken-pigeon in third world countries or first world countries or any country in between. I will only eat animals that appear to have been murdered in their prime by humans, not those that appear to have died an agonizingly slow death from infectious disease. Stay away from chicken-pigeons, because those sons-of-bitches will haunt you forevermore.