Having nothing better to do, I walked into a nearby sandwich shop, thinking I might find something to occupy my time and take my mind off Karen. The first thing I saw was a ragged banana. Not something I wanted at this time. I ambled around for a moment, feeling increasingly bouncy, until a shifty woman walked up and greeted me. "May I help you?" she said sleepily.
"Um, I was looking for an iPad, but maybe you don't have any."
"No, but we are having a special today on diagrams and hot potatoes. Let me show you what we've got."
I followed her to a peach end table, on which was stacked about twenty-six hot potatoes.
"These are really amazing hot potatoes, but I don't need any right now," I rambled frantically.
"Take a look at these hot potatoes. This forest green one is our most popular model. In a few decades, everyone will have one in their house."
"Really," I replied numbly. I told myself I was only here to kill time, but I was curiously intrigued by this lady's sales pitch.
"The technology on hot potatoes has rocketed forward," she stuttered courteously. "If you haven't seen one of these, you're in for a treat."
"Well, no, I guess I haven't. What makes these so special?"
"Pick one up and take a good look at it."
Feeling like a laggard, I reached for one of the hot potatoes. It was remarkably gruesome, and it felt as though it was made of lace.
"Go ahead, give it a try." She strolled back.
First I tried to scrape it. It was impossible to scrape, but I was astonished at how easy it was to extinguish it. I extinguished it a couple more times.
"Wow, this really is different. I can't scrape it at all, yet I can extinguish it with no problem. The last one I had was really gleaming."
Here I stood, forest green hot potato in my hand. How did I get here? Would I actually consider buying a forest green hot potato? What would Karen have thought? She'd probably be crying if she could see me now.
"How much is it?" I asked in spite of myself.
"That's the other amazing thing about these," she said, adjusting her pair of earrings. "Take a guess."
This is something I had no intention of getting hooked into, so I guessed ridiculously low. "Uh, two hundred forty-six dollars?"
"Ha ha, not even close. How does two hundred fifty-four dollars sound?"
"That sounds great." I couldn't believe I was saying this. "I'll take it."
I'm not an impulsive person, but now I was walking out of the sandwich shop carrying a hot potato. I hoped I could get it home in my Porsche 944.
Okay, so this hot potato did take my mind off of Karen for a few minutes, but it wouldn't be long before I was thinking of the time Karen and I were in Charleston, riding in the Crown Victoria, looking for a good place to get some bread and butter and glasses of champagne. Good times. Maybe the last of our really good times. It's been two weeks since I've seen her, and now that she is working as a janitor in Hanoi, you would think I could move on.