Decadence

Life doesn't get any better with free candy at the supermarket. And a man in women's clothes.

I entered the supermarket, grabbed a grocery basket, and made my way down the aisles, eyes fixed on the candy section. The previous afternoon, all the chocolates on display to lure in new customers had been eaten by the time I got there. Determined, I returned today to have another try.

I was in luck.

"Would you like a bite, sir? Brand new Milka chocolate!" the lady offered me with a fake, bright, holiday smile.

"Oh! Why yes, that's very kind of you, ma'am," I said, and snatched a piece of chocolate off the tray she held out to me.

"Only four ninety-nine a box! A better deal you'll never find," she told me, leaning forward as though confiding some deep, dark secret.

"Oh, I'd love to, ma'am. The chocolates sure are delicious. But I'm afraid I only have so much change, and I left my debit card at home."

"The deal lasts until Friday. Make sure to come back for a box!" came the cheerful reply.

"All right. Bye now."

"Goodbye, sir! Happy holidays!"

A polite smile at the saleswoman, then an apologetic one at the cashier for not buying anything, and I was back outside. I hurried to my car, opened the door, and leaned down, one knee on the backseat, to grab a large plastic bag. Out of it I pulled a fake moustache and applied it to my face, followed by a pair of glasses and a hat. Finally, I exchanged my blue jacket for a red one and kicked off my brown shoes to replace them with faded black ones. A cane and a pair of fingerless gloves as a finishing touch, and I was off again.

"Would you like a bite, sir? Brand new Milka chocolate!" the lady offered me with a fake, bright, holiday smile.

"Ehh, why not." A gruff, deep, shaky voice this time. With trembling fingers, I brought a chocolate to my lips.

"Only four ninety-nine a box! A better deal you'll never find," she told me, leaning forward as though confiding some deep, dark secret.

I leaned forward as well, with a conspiratorial grin.

"I'm sure. But I'm afraid my wife would have my skin if I brought a box of chocolates anywhere near the house. She's on a diet, you see, and you know how women can be..."

She backed off quickly as I moved closer, and smiled a polite, albeit rather disgusted, smile.

I inclined my head to bid her goodbye, cast an apologetic look to the cashier for not buying anything, and made my way back to the car.

Whistling, I got rid of the moustache, hat, and glasses. This transformation would take more preparation.

A second plastic bag in hand, I disappeared in the women's lavatories of the mall next to the supermarket. When I'd first started my hunt for free pastries and candy, I could never decide whether to go into the men's or the ladies' because, one way or another, I'd be the subject of many a strange look, be it as I went in or as I went out. This time, however, I was in luck. No curious stares.

Transformed into a woman, wearing thick layers of make-up to hide my square jaw as much as possible and walking on heels with a balance that no first-time teenager would be able to reproduce, I tic-tic-ticked into the store, a pink purse dangling from my wrist.

"Would you like a bite, miss? Brand new Milka chocolate!" the lady offered me with a fake, bright, holiday smile.

I was about to answer when a man stormed up to me.

"John! Good old Johnny Netherland!" he exclaimed. I tried to keep my cool.

"I can't believe you're still doing this," he went on. "I remember the good old days, when we'd go together, from shop to shop..."

"Shut up," I hissed in a low voice, forgetting that I wasn't supposed to have that low a voice as a woman.

The saleslady looked at me and blinked. She squinted and leaned closer.

"Sir?" she asked, hesitating.

"Yeah, all right, all right," I said, taking off my wig with a defeated sigh.

Time for a new supermarket.

The End

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