In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Have a Nice Day: Poem 21

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When I came to California, a gruff New Yorker,
 
well nigh 38 years plus change ago,
 
the first time I heard, “Have a nice day!” from
 
a super market clerk after I had purchased
 
a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and milk,
 
I thought to myself, “What the actual fuck?!”
 
I had no idea what she was up to or what she meant.
 
And then I heard it everywhere, “Have a nice day,”
 
said the ice cream store clerk and the sandwich shop
 
cashier and even the gas station attendant.
 
I thought I had landed on some spooky, sticky planet
 
of gooey good cheer, totally fake and reflexive.
 
So now, much more accustomed to the saying,
 
as common as “Where should we go to eat? Or
 
“Did you finish your homework?”, I jokingly reply,
 
“Don’t tell me what to do! I have authority issues,” and
 
I wink, the closest I can come to a smiley faced emoticon.

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