HIS N’ HERS • by Tom Hoisington

At the supermarket, the checker inspects our items before scanning them. The newspaper. The Tums. The 18-pack of beer. Then she looks at Amy’s baby bump and speaks with a Russian accent.

“This is for him, yes?” she asks, pointing at the beer. “And this is for you.” She points at the Tums.

“Yes,” Amy says, laughing. “That’s right.”

“I’ve been there before,” the clerk says.

Amy laughs. I look away, embarrassed. The clerk shrugs, pointing to the newspaper, and says, “This, at least, you read together.”


On the drive home, I impersonate Yakov Smirnoff.

“In communist Russia,” I say, “the pregnant lady drinks beer and the husband takes Tums.”

Amy smiles wryly and says, “Don’t make fun.”

“I wasn’t,” I say. “She seemed to know what she was talking about.”

“Yeah, I got that vibe, too.”

“With her it was vodka, I bet.”

“Do they sell vodka, Tums, and newspapers at the same place in Moscow?”

“I dunno,” I say. “They sell vodka in the can, and the place spawned Dostoevsky. I’m sure she’s seen all kinds of shit.”


Amy’s father had called that morning for the first time in six months. He was somewhere in Northern Montana.

“Where are you?” Amy had asked him.

“It’s cold,” he said. “I might go down to Bozeman.”

“It’s cold in Bozeman too,” Amy said.

“Not this cold.”

“I’m pregnant,” she’d said. “I wanted to tell you. Is this a good number to reach you?”

“This number is okay. For messages, I guess,” he’d said. “Another grandkid? That’s good. The rest of them won’t let me see my grandkids.”

“That’s not what they said, Dad. They said you couldn’t see them if you were still drinking.”

“That’s the most hurtful thing I’ve ever experienced,” he said, not listening anymore, descended into self pity. “That was the thing that hurt the most.”


In line at the supermarket, with the 18-pack of beer jutting out of the plastic basket, the Tums beneath it, and the newspaper sitting on top of it all, I had joked with Amy that someday our baby would have to split its holidays between us.

“You’ll be living with your new husband, the accountant,” I’d said. “And Baby will go to your guys’ house first, then fill up a plate and bring it to me. I’ll be living north of campus in a $500-a-month apartment, alone. The undergrads will have voted me their god because I buy them beer.”

“Don’t joke about that,” she said.


“I grew up like that. Alcoholic father. Divorce. It’s not funny.”

She stared fixedly at the front page of the paper, though it was facing away from her.

“You’re right,” I’d said. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re not going to be like that.”

With that, the checker turned her attention to us. And Amy’s baby bump. And our items.

“This is for him, yes?” she asks, pointing at the beer. “And this is for you.” She points at the Tums.

Tom Hoisington is a journalist living in Kittitas County, Washington, with his wife, daughter, and cats.

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