An installation of the Bighead Series, where all protagonists have physically large heads.
A man with a long toggle coat, dark jeans, and a pumpkinhead jogged across 3rd Avenue with his bulldog and pressed his face against the glass of Sal’s Groceries. The stare was fixed on a woman standing in front of a row of cereals. Intent on making eye contact with her, he stood transfixed, although he already knew they had nothing to say. He tied his dog to a tree and walked into the store. She was on the phone.
“Well, I’m not attending Kodak Week because I don’t think that’s living. I think that’s slowly dying.” She put down a box of Mueslix and gave a more energetic twist towards the Golden Grahams, which made her duck below the man’s giant orange head. “Excuse me,” she said, annoyed, and picked up the cereal.
“Daisy. Daisy, it’s me.” The girl looked up and caught his eye.
“Oh! Jim! I didn’t recognize you.”
“Well, I haven’t seen you since college. It’s been like five years.”
“It has been. Five.”
“You also may not have recognized me, because I now have a huge pumpkin for a head.”
“Yeah. Yes. That did it.”
Daisy was not dressed for the weather and Jim’s eyes took a little tour.
A voice blared from Daisy’s phone, and she remembered her mother. “Anyway, Mom, that is nothing I would ever want. I wish you would actually listen to me for once.” Jim backed up from the conversation and traced his finger through the maze on a box of Teddy Grahams. “Anyway, I really can’t talk right now.” She hung up. “So!”
“So yeah. Just wanted to say hi. I’ve got to get home.”
She put down the box of Golden Grahams and had him follow her to the refrigerated section. “So, how did you wind up with this?” she asked, pointing at his pumpkinhead and picking up a case of Blue Moon. “I mean it’s totally cool, totally cool, it’s different.”
“Thanks,” Jim said, smiling and pulling down on one of his toggles. “Same kind of generic story. The whole ‘what do you do’ kinda thing…ha! ha,” and Daisy laughed too, a little too loud.
“Remember our little rendezvous in the LGBT garden?”
“Listen, Daisy,” Jim said, in a tone that made the girl shift the beer from her right to her left hand. “I’m not very good with this whole revisiting the past thing. I’m just trying to… get on with it.”
“Oh. Well I was just wondering if you can still do all that, with the pumpkinhead.” She wanted to ask him something, but couldn’t seem to do anything but scan the varieties of beer, chanting Amstel, Bud, Corona almost outloud (Sal had arranged the beers in alphabetical order). “Jim…I would love to make you dinner at some point.”
“Aw, that’s so nice. I kind of have a light diet nowadays. You know, photosynthesis,” and Jim pointed to his head. “Anyway, I just wanted to say hey, or hi or something. I’m on my way home—I’ve gotten really into Evelyn Waugh.”
“I wasn’t doing anything tonight, either. Oh! Want to rent the Brideshead series? Have a marathon?”
“That would be fun, but I think I’m just going to read my book.”
“I guess I’m more into watching than reading,” Daisy said, but Jim didn’t laugh.
“I guess that’s the difference between us,” he said.
Daisy put the Blue Moon back on the shelf and wandered back to the cereal aisle. “O-kay,” she said, “it was great running into ya.” Seeing Jim and his new head had lifted Daisy out of her Sunday funk. He oozed a confidence she hoped might creep in and slacken her posture. She pointed to the ATM and hoped that lingering her presence might change his mind about reading alone tonight.
While Daisy hovered her finger over the worn buttons, calculating the benefit of accepting the $2.25 fee, Jim shifted the weight on his feet with an obvious impatience. He couldn’t wait to get home and spread out alone with his book. He was so tired. The thought of another morning lifting a head just as heavy as it had been the night before overwhelmed him. His passion for the profession of trademark research seemed to be dwindling as well, making every day that much harder. But the state of the nation and the prospect of interviewing for jobs with his new enlarged head made it difficult for Jim to explore any furthering career opportunities. He was beginning to think the switch from a well-proportioned, easily-accessorized skull of flesh to an oversized bright orange vegetable known to rot within a matter of weeks might have been a rash decision. But Jim turned and caught sight of a neon price tag displayed on a bottle of Pantene Pro-V for $8.99. Tubes upon packages reigned whole inches of bodega space—face wash, hair care, razors, tweezers, Q-tips—shelves of consumer goods that had once consumed him. Jim chuckled at his brief moment of weakness. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
Daisy caught her expensive twenty dollar bill and noticed for the first time that Jim’s whole head was caked in dirt. She cursed his muddy exterior, much different from the one that had once told her, over cocoa cafés, that he would never believe in life after this love. She gulped and looked away, remembering the hodgepodge drawer in her kitchen, which held both cleaning cloths and the dulled jack-o-lantern carver with the handle in the shape of Snoopy. If only she could convince him to stick with her. They would light a romantic tea candle and his face would dance around the room. When he began to stale, his red and green spots would usher in the distracting holiday season. Daisy snapped back only to realize she was alone in the store, suddenly very aware of Sal’s gathering anticipation of a purchase. She avoided eye contact and hurried out.
“C’mon, Aloysius,” Jim said, bending down to let the dog lick his pumpkin. “See ya, Daise.”
“Yep. See ya in cyberspace.”