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Introductory paragraph to "Two were my Albatrosses" - Your WRITES

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My wife entered the store. She was still young—about six or seven years my junior from what I could remember—but she had lost the looks of youth. The lines around her eyes revealed years of difficulty and tolerance. The expression on her face was that of one whose entire life was a burden. While she was neither thin nor plump, her hips had broadened as the result of two births. She walked with the sluggish pace of a woman who had nearly lost her life bringing two children into the world.
She pushed the carriage in front of her, leaning into it as though she were trying to ward it off. Our four year old daughter walked behind her with a typically cheeky look on her face. It was my daughter who brought joy into my life. She resembled me not only in her squarely defined chin, not only in her olive green eyes, not only in her petite nose, not only in her thick lips, but also in her mischievous streak. She always had that glimmer in her eyes that revealed that she was up to something and you would not know what until she was quite ready. She was constantly full of surprises, and my wife tired of her very easily, which only served to strengthen my relationship with my daughter.
My son was an infant. He was barely six weeks old, and my wife was still recovering from the ordeal of bringing him into the world. The pregnancy had been taxing on her heart, and she had been hospitalized for a week before the doctors decided to perform a Caesarean section. The operation had been nothing more than routine for the doctors, but it had forced my wife deeper into her world of burden and affliction.
As my son was merely an infant, I could not say that I had much of a relationship with him. Firstly, my wife refused to allow me to have much intimate contact with him throughout any given day, claiming that it fueled my daughter’s jealousy. I was barred from touching him, holding him, kissing him, and changing him. Feeding him was out of the question. I was a man, after all, and how could I be expected to know precisely how to prepare the formula?
Aside from the restrictions, I personally found babies to be rather boring as a rule. I was wonderful with babies, but I found them to have no real personality; they do not interact with people; they do little more than eat, sleep, cry, and mess their diapers. While I anticipated the time when my son would grow a bit and begin to take on a more human form, I found him to be of little consequence in the meantime.
Thus it was that as soon as my beloved family walked into the store, I wished them to go away. It was not enough that I had to go home to a cranky wife and two screaming children, but I had to put on a façade and tolerate them while at work, where I was obligated not only to them but also to my boss, and I simply could not escape from the store as I could escape from the home.
I worked in a small grocery in the heart of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was a family grocery, run by a father and son, and I was one of two employees aside from the four Latin American fellows who packed and carried the deliveries. I had been in the store a little more than a year, which made me the rookie, and considering the fact that I was considerably younger than the other employee, I was often given the most menial of tasks in the store, and I was the boss’s most prized choice for scapegoat when the need for one arose.
The store was small. There were only three narrow aisles, and if there happened to be more than three shopping carts in an aisle at a time, then it would be nearly impossible to pass down the aisle without running into somebody or something. If a young mother brought into the store a double stroller, then one could suffocate from the lack of space.
When my wife came in, then, there was nowhere I could go to hide from her. Were I to run from one register to the next, she would catch me in the act. Were I to pretend to be busy with one thing or another in one of the aisles, either she or my daughter would poke their heads around the aisle and ask me for this kind of catsup or that kind of snack or something more asinine altogether. If I went outside to check on the status of the deliveries, my wife would wait patiently for me to return inside before she would grill me about laundry detergent or describe to me how much money she had wasted that day on ridiculous things like paperweights and goldfish.
Today, she approached me at the counter and began to tell me that she had only awakened at eleven o’clock. By twelve thirty, she had barely eaten little more than a sandwich with some tuna and a tomato, and now she was starving but too exhausted to cook and unsure what there might be in the store to satisfy her.
More complaints. Always complaints. In the store, her complaints might be simple and justified. In the home, though, I would be blame for everything. In the store, she was forced to pretend that she was responsible for her fatigue and hunger. When I would get home, though, everything would be my fault, and if it was not my fault, then she would make me wish that it was.
“Buy some hot dogs and some buns,” I tried to suggest to her, hiding my complete lack of interest in her complaints.
“I don’t want to eat meat. I can’t eat meat during the week.”
“Okay, then,” I said, at a loss for any other suggestion.
“Do you have any other suggestion?” she asked.
“How am I supposed to know?” I held in my annoyance, a herculean task.
“Something,” she demanded with the crankiness apparent in her voice.
“Yogurt?”
“Not filling enough.”
“A tuna sandwich?”
“I already ate a tuna sandwich today.”
“A salad?”
“Not filling?”
“Tattie,” my daughter interrupted, “ich darf a chocolate.” I need a chocolate.
“Enough with your chocolates,” my wife snapped at her. “I already gave you three at home this afternoon.”
Three chocolates at an earlier hour were not enough for my daughter, and she insisted again that we buy her chocolate.
“You see what I have to deal with all day?” my wife said to me in Hebrew so that my daughter would not understand her.
Now it was coming.
“She does this all day.”
“So, tell her she’s not getting a chocolate,” I said, opening the register to see if I needed to fill it with coins or bills or something else that might steal my attention away from my wife.
Now, my daughter’s pleas for chocolate became whines.
“Malkie,” I said to my daughter in Yiddish, “I’ll bring you home a chocolate, but not now.”
My daughter persisted, and my wife snapped, “If you don’t stop this now, I’m going to take you home, and Tattie won’t buy you any chocolate.”
That brought on the tears. My wife snatched my daughter’s hand and dragged her crying out of the store.
My wonderful little family was gone. I took a breath of relief and called one of the goyim to bring be a box of shopping bags.



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