Hillary Clinton & Cashier Ben

      Hillary Clinton pushes a shopping cart in a curiously empty grocery store. She passes aisle nine (CANDY, COOKIES, BIG BUSINESS CEREALS), and turns down aisle eight (PRIVATE CONTACT SOLUTIONS, MODEST COVERUP, FORGIVENESS CHEESE). She peruses the cheese selection and decides on a nice brie. She smiles as she tosses the brie into a full cart. She’s proud of herself. The items in her cart are a perfect selection. Totally representative of her platform. There’s the off-brand bread for income inequality. The iceberg lettuce for climate change awareness. The fig jam for peace in the Middle East. Not to mention the baby food. There is so much baby food. She is a grandmother, after all. 

      Hillary Clinton feels good. She has picked out her best pantsuit for the occasion. The patriotic blue get-up has been through the toughest and most rewarding parts of her campaign thus far. She knows that it will get her through today too. Though it may seem improbable, this stop on the campaign trail will be her make-or-break with the American people. A people whose hearts are connected to their minds, certainly, but more importantly—to their food. And their food is where she will win them. With an enthusiastic breath, Hillary Clinton pushes her cart forward and heads for the checkout. 

     After some hesitation, Hillary Clinton picks register thirteen. A mass sigh of relief echoes from the several hiding mouths behind the display on aisle seven. One mouth whispers about luck. Another mentions the colonies. Still another remarks that register thirteen is perfectly in the middle. Countless other hidden aides nod in unison and agreement. All except the aide on aisle six who thinks she should really have chosen a register a bit further to the left. This aide shakes in his loafers.

      Hillary Clinton smiles at the cashier behind register thirteen. She places her items on the conveyor.  The cashier smiles back.

      “Hello there. My name is Hillary Clinton. The weather is nice today, is it not?” says Hillary Clinton, eyes unblinking. 

      “Yes. Very nice weather indeed, Ms. Clinton.” says the cashier, eyes very much blinking.

      “That’s ‘Madam President’.” 

      “Sorry?”

     “Nothing.”  

     “Are you a member of our rewards program, Ms. Clinton?”

     “I am not. But I can certainly understand the pros and the cons of supporting such a program. There are pros and cons. Definitely pros and cons to that issue. An issue I truly value. With pros and cons.”

     “Okay.” Says the cashier.

     “How rude of me! I didn’t ask your name.” 

     “Ben.”

     Hillary Clinton engages a thumb-over-fist maneuver. A daring choice.

     “A wonderful name. A name with which I am very familiar. And I don’t say that because of the big bad Ben, the Benghaz—no. I am of course referring to the great Ben Franklin. A fine patriot, a man who, oh a man, a patriot, really. A man to whom we all owe a great deal. Because—”

     Ben clears his throat. 

     “I don’t mean to interrupt, but these cherry tomatoes look a bit ripe, Ms. Clinton. Would you like me to get some newer ones?” 

     “Age is not a weakness, Ben.”

     “Wouldn’t you like some cherry tomatoes that will last a little longer, Ms. Clinton?”

     “There is no telling just how long those cherry tomatoes will last, Ben. Certainly eight years or more, Ben.”

     “Well I can’t imagine—”

     “And look: ‘Imported.’ That’s inherent, unrivaled foreign policy experience, Ben.” 

     “I see that now, Ms. Clinton. I will scan these cherry tomatoes now.”

     “Thank you, Ben.”

     “You’re welcome, Ms. Clinton.”

     “Ben?”

     “Yes, Ms. Clinton?”

     “Ben, I wonder if I may ask your opinion on my selection of dairy products.”

     The mouths behind the display on aisle six gasp.  

     “You may notice that I selected both the local-optioned milk as well as a soy derivative.”

     “I do see that, Ms. Clinton.” 

     “I believe that it shows that I am both a champion of the American farmer as well as a champion of balanced health.”

     Ben blinks. “This skim milk is actually produced five states away. In a refinery. Owned by Halliburton.”

     “I see.” 

     Someone faints in aisle six. There is a long silence. 

     “Ben? Ben I might inquire if you play or enjoy our great national pastime of baseball?”

     “I’m more a fan of softball, Ms. Clinton.”

     “That’s very interesting, Ben. Because though I enjoy watching the game and get quite excited during a good bang-bang play, I must admit that a harder ball is less easy to dodge.”

     “I’d say, Ms. Clinton, that the easier maneuver would be to take a swing at it.”

     “That does sound like a very nice way to handle an ace-throw. I’ll have to give that a try sometime soon. I appreciate your counsel, Ben.”

     Ben blushes a bit as he scans the remaining items. He stops at the brie.

     “This is some fantastic Forgiveness Brie, Ms. Clinton.”

     “You think so?” 

     “Yes. I think it’s perfect. It might be hard and rigid on the outside, and tough, maybe even unapproachable. But you know that the good part is just underneath all that. Just waiting to be seen and experienced, Ms. Clinton.” 

     Hillary Clinton stares at Ben. She notices for the first time that his eyes are very kind. She could get lost in their sincerity. She makes a mental note to poll the kindness of her own eyes.

     “Thank you, Ben.” 

     Ben smiles. He scans the brie. An aide snaps a photo as Hillary Clinton and Ben shake hands. The aide steps away quite pleased. 

     “Well, Ben. I hope I have your vote.” 

     Ben pauses. 

     “I’m sixteen, Ms. Clinton.”

     “I see.”

     “I’m sorry about that, Ms. Clinton.”

     “I suppose I will see you in 2020 then, Ben.” Hillary Clinton casts her eyes to the floor. She takes a few steps forward.

     “One more thing, Ms. Clinton.”

     She turns and takes another look in those kind, cashier eyes.

     “Yes, Ben?” 

     Ben shuffles a little uneasily. He casts his eyes to the floor too. What he says is almost a whisper.

     “Paper or plastic, Ms. Clinton?”

     Hillary Clinton sighs. Her eyes widen back to their unblinking state.

     “I can certainly understand the pros and the cons of supporting either paper or plastic. Yes, certainly there are pros and cons. This is definitely an issue that I don’t take lightly—”

     The aide in aisle six clutches his arm and collapses to the grocery store floor. Someone calls for a cleanup.