Vodka Yonic

Vodka Yonic features a rotating cast of women and nonbinary writers from around the world sharing stories that are alternately humorous, sobering, intellectual, erotic, religious or painfully personal. You never know what you’ll find in this column, but we hope this potent mix of stories encourages conversation.

I know I’m getting old because I’ve started to love the music that plays at Kroger — mid-’90s, especially, but also early and late ’90s. Early Aughts. Select ’80s. I would put all of these grocery-store backdrop songs into a category I consider to be “Corny but Elite” —  e.g., Jagged Edge, hand-picked Jane’s Addiction, Rusted Root, etc. 

Last week at the Inglewood Kroger, I was first in line at the pharmacy picking up nasal spray, because I’ve decided to be proactive about my snoring. (Read: I started having sex again. With another person.) The Cranberries song “Linger” came on. Such a great song. I asked the pharmacist if it was possible to turn up the volume. Never got an answer.

I recently dreamed that my new-ish boyfriend and I were living in North London beside Primrose Hill, and we often walked up to a particular spot, sometimes bringing friends, grapes, a bottle of wine, tumblers, cigarettes. It felt so familiar. In this dream, he and I were ascending the hill to “chase the night” when we heard hippies strumming guitar and singing. “Must be Dylan they’re playing,” my dream-self thought. But no, as we got closer, we made it out that the hippies were singing “Linger.” Boyfriend said, “The music of the 1990s is now as far away as the music of the 1960s and 1970s was from the 1990s.” A mind-bendingly disturbing fact. Sugar, sugar. I don’t know if I have a response. 

I left Kroger with my nasal spray. I also picked up some chewable melatonin, Death Wish coffee, plain yogurt, red grapes, a chunk of Parmesan and a gluten-free quesadilla made by a brand called Life Cuisine. Which used to be Lean Cuisine. Before women were pressed to eat a diet “high in protein,” we were supposed to aim for “low in calories.” (This fell shortly after the period in which the diet industry encouraged us to slam a SlimFast shake for breakfast and lunch.) I grew up in a time before everybody started trying “to get their steps in” and drink 16 glasses of water a day. I grew up in a time when the news was just the news, the same news everyone heard, and none of us knew we were living in a constant state of dehydration. On the flip side, we were not yet hip to the threat of hyponatremia. These were golden days.

I was driving home on Gallatin Avenue when a car cut me off, no indication. That’s pretty normal “Nashville behavior” now, am I right? But this turned out to be possibly the worst driving I’ve ever seen, worse even than what I witnessed on the highway, in the rain, heading back to Dubai from Abu Dhabi, and that was criminally bad. This was worse. No blinkers, a busted tail light, exhaust shooting out of the tailpipe. I’ve been meaning to get my eyesight checked — again — but it’s intact enough that when I squinted I could read the bumper sticker: “I’m on My Way to Chain Smoke at The Cobra.” I thought, “You’re going the wrong way.” Then I thought, “I kind of want to be friends with this person.” 

There is still trash music in rotation at grocery stores, but I don’t mind that stuff when it’s sandwiched between songs that made me feel alive when I was a teenager, climbing trees in Centennial Park at night. No longer a kid but not yet an adult. Hanging out on a limb trying to look like I was having the time of my life. I was, in a way. All these years later, that room in my heart is intact, and that soundtrack holds a key. 

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