On June 30, 2019, it will be five years since I began writing my infamous “Grocer and Writer” stories. I have caught both flack and praise for writing them and yes I’ll admit that they are quite polarizing. In 2016 and 2017, I had written offshoots of them, trying to be less offensive, but I haven’t been able to elaborate on them as much as the original stories.
In this piece, I will try to document every source of inspiration that I drew from in order to create these stories.
It is a love story between a mildly Autistic young man who is a twenty-two/twenty-three year old Grocery clerk and his girlfriend, a plus sized seventeen/eighteen-year-old honor student turned high school dropout. I know that in and of itself brought a lot of flack due to the high amount of controversy, but I was only trying to teach that everyone deserves to be loved.
I will say that I met my girlfriend over four years after beginning writing these stories, but as I got to know her more and fell in love with her, I realized that there are many ways she reminds me of the young lady in these stories. She reminds me of other good female characters in the stories I write as well. And not only that, when I read them to her, she smiles at me from ear to ear and stares at me intently and with great focus. She is never offended or disgusted like so many others were when I presented those stories to them.
These weren’t written in chronological order, by the way, they were written as the inspirations came to me.
On June 30, 2014, I wrote my first piece of the series. I had previously worked as a grocer for a company I had hated, but this was 2010-2011 and there were no other jobs available, little did I know that working for this said company would cause me to draw so much inspiration. The piece takes place in January and starts off with my male character whom I now will name Garth Cooper getting off of work from his God awful grocer’s job. The name of the store where he works is known as “The Downtown Grocer” and its location is based on the New Orleans Central Business District. He fires up his old car, a 1989 Toyota, and heads to his girlfriend, an honor student turned dropout, whom I have now named Samantha Abbott, parents’ house in the suburbs which are based on Metairie/Old Metairie (a suburb directly West of New Orleans.) He brings her to his house, which was based on my Maternal Grandma’s house located in Metairie, but instead his neighborhood is based on Mid City, New Orleans.
In early July 2014, I wrote a piece on how they met. It is Thanksgiving and Garth Cooper is in the municipal park, writing stories in a composition book. He has the day off and uses it to focus on his passion, writing love stories. The park is based on New Orleans City Park, but also Central Park in Manhattan, New York City. The fictitious city in which they reside is inspired by a combination of New Orleans, New York and Detroit and their respective suburbs. While Garth is writing in the park, Samantha takes a walk to the park to get away from her arguing parents. She first notices him and is attracted to him. She is able to get him to allow her to sit with him, even though you, the reader, will find out that she is seventeen and he is twenty-two. At first, he is reluctant but realizes no one else wanted him. They exchange phone numbers and he reads to her, making her want him all the more. The end up a couple and sit together until the sun and Mercury go down. He drives her home, concluding the piece.
In either July or August of 2014, I wrote a piece consisting of a day at Garth’s God awful job, which is based on some personal life events I had previously experienced and Samantha’s miserable home life, which was done by observing others I had formerly known. It takes place on The Winter Solstice. As mentioned before Garth’s job at the Downtown Grocer, which is located in a neighborhood based on the Central Business District of New Orleans and Samantha’s parents’ house takes place in a neighborhood, based off of Old Metairie, which is a suburb to the immediate west of New Orleans. Garth is on a break along with the male janitor and the female cook. He is texting Samantha when the janitor sees the bliss in his eyes and wants to know if he is talking to his girlfriend. Garth says he is and talks about how he loves and reveres her. The cook then starts badmouthing Samantha as she cannot stand to see a happy or chaste couple. Garth stands up to the cook and to which she threatens him with an edged weapon. All in all, Garth threatens to record her making the threats and turn the recordings over to the police to which she quiets down. Then the break is over, to which Garth begins stocking the shelves. A gentleman asks him to help him find the remoulade sauce and then helps him get some fresh fish from seafood. Garth takes care of his customer, who we later find out is none other than Samantha’s dad. The assistant store director chews Garth out for conversing with the gentleman, to which the gentleman backs him up. The assistant store director comes down harder on Garth and the gentleman overhears to which he cancels his revolving account and says how neither he nor his business partners will ever shop there again because of the way they treat their employees. Garth is forced to stock the boxed gelatin from now on. Meanwhile, Samantha is in her room listening to one of the music channels. Her pill-addicted mother is woken up by the music. She accuses Samantha of stealing her Xanax and threatens to beat her. Samantha calls her dad, to which he intervenes and tells his wife to look under the sofa for her stash. She then takes the Xanax and crashes. I wrote another piece following this where Garth gets off of work and goes pick up Samantha, then brings her to his home, which his neighborhood is based on Mid City, New Orleans. They tell each other about all that went on during the day over a simple dinner of oatmeal. Both contemplate only in their minds that they should live together as soon as Samantha turns eighteen. Then they discover their synchronous thoughts. The piece concludes with Garth looking at the clock on his dining room wall and realizing that he has work tomorrow. She tells him how she doesn’t want to go home and be around her mother. So he lovingly tucks Samantha into the bed in his extra bedroom, then goes to sleep in his bedroom, concluding the piece.
In August of 2014, I wrote a piece consisting of their first time being intimate with each other. It takes place on Christmas Eve, and Pachelbel’s Canon in D Minor had a lot of inspiration for it. Yes she is seventeen in he is twenty-two, and while they didn’t fully realize that she was legal they lovingly had sex anyway. Since the location of these stories is mostly based on Louisiana and the age of consent in Louisiana is indeed seventeen, no laws were broken. The piece begins with Garth getting off of work then going pick up Samantha from her parents’ house. He then drives her to his house and they sit on the sofa. He offers her virgin egg nog, to which she says she shouldn’t drink because she is so fat. He reassures her that he would love her no matter what size she is. Garth then turns his television on, to where he learns of several murders that occurred over the past twenty-four hours and he also learns of the world preparing for global conflict. Samantha suggests that he turn the television off and that they focus on each other. She then confesses that she wants to be intimate with him. He doesn’t know that seventeen is legal, so he is hesitant. She convinces him that they are not guaranteed tomorrow and they should make tonight worth it. She says how she wants him so badly because he accepted her when everyone else she was interested in so cruelly rejected her. Eventually, he agrees and they go to bed together and deflower each other, falling even deeper in love.
Later in 2014, I wrote a piece of their first date together. It takes a place a week and a day after they met and became an item or a week and a day after Black Friday. Prior to this they had been religiously texting each other and getting to know each other. He calls her and says how he’d like to take her on a date to a place that is based on The Riverwalk in New Orleans. She agrees, and as the phone call is finishing up they exchange those three little words! She gets dressed then texts him that she’s ready. He comes to pick her up and they go to his job to pick up and cash his check. They hold hands in the store until his boss the assistant store director orders them to stop holding hands. He cashes his check and pays the $5 cashing fee, then they go to the Riverwalk. They eat breakfast at a restaurant based off of Cafe` Du Monde, then they have lunch at a fish and chip shop, based off of the Louisiana seafood restaurant Spahr’s, which doesn’t have a presence in New Orleans. He then buys her a Casio Baby G watch at a gift shop. Afterward, they walk until the sun goes down and he takes her home. They plan to see each other again on his next day off.
Even later in 2014, I wrote a piece consisting of the night before Samantha’s eighteenth birthday and her moving in with Garth. It takes place in early February. It starts with him getting off of work and heading to the suburbs to pick Samantha up. It is a very cold evening. She is waiting for him on her parents’ driveway. His headlights illuminate her stature. He gets out of his car then opens the door for her and she gets in. He drives her to his house and they settle in. He asks her what would she like him to order her for her birthday dinner. She says something Asian. He begins to look through his telephone directory, to which she replies how she has an app to order it on her phone. She orders and soon the delivery man comes. Garth takes the food, pays him then escorts him back to his car. Afterward, they eat dinner in the dining room, to which Samantha says how the food made her sleepy. They go to bed, this time in the same bed and cuddle, soon falling asleep in each others’ arms. They are awoken by the loud noises and subsequent explosions of a train derailment. Since this series takes place in New Orleans, but in the future almost, I had written it to where the Norfolk Southern Back Belt line was actually rerouted from Old Metairie to Mid City, though this has yet to take place in real life, a little over four years later. The train derailment knocked out transmission power lines and caused a blackout. Samantha looks at her phone and sees how it is midnight and she is now legal to stay with him. A few minutes later, however, there is a knock at the door and a policeman, I haven’t decided if it was a state trooper, a railroad special agent or a city cop, orders them to evacuate.
At another point, sometime before July of 2015. I wrote the piece which takes place in the early morning hours of Samantha’s eighteenth birthday. They are complying with the policeman’s orders and leaving the city. Traffic is very dense as they discuss where should they go. Samantha says she doesn’t want to be with her mother. Garth says the only other option is to go to his parents’ house which is five hours away. She agrees. Traffic is still at a standstill. Finally, traffic begins to move. At some point, Garth calls his mother and explains the situation to her. He tells her that he also has his girlfriend with her. The route I planned to have them take is based on Interstate 10 from Mid City, New Orleans to around Gonzales, Louisiana with its junction with US 61/Airline Highway. They continue towards Baton Rouge on US 61 then west on US 190 until its junction with US 71, between Port Barre, Louisiana and Krotz Springs, Louisiana where they head North. They stop at a diner for food and fuel in a town based on Bunkie, Louisiana. Garth goes to pay for the gasoline, but Samantha insists that she will pay instead and that he can repay her “all night long.” She then hands her debit card to the cashier, to which she says how she thinks they are so cute. In July of 2015, I once met a cashier at the Race Trac in Paradis, Louisiana, who very much reminded me of the cashier in this story. As they explain the situation to the waitress, she gives them free food and a thermal mug with the company name on it. These two pieces were inspired by the Country song “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” In fact since Garth Brooks covered that song, I named my male character Garth, his surname Cooper comes from Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory, since they are both on The Autism Spectrum, but still high functioning. By the way, Samantha also got her name from that said song and she is indeed “A strange combination of a woman and a child.” The last name Abbott comes from the Abbott family on “The Young and the Restless” since her dad is a business executive and reminds me of a combination of Jack Abbott and Victor Newman. I already had created a character with the last name Newman in another story I wrote, so that is why I used Abbott. I did watch Y&R a little before creating this series, but I didn’t watch Big Bang until years after creating it. You will see that Garth’s mother is also a lot like Sheldon’s mother, which was totally by accident. Anyway, after eating and talking with the waitress they get back on the road. The diner was partially based on “The Highway 71 Sandwich Shop” which was located in Bunkie, Louisiana, but I don’t think is any longer in business. They continue North, at some point deviating from what is based on US 71 and ending up on the Northeastern Louisiana Delta at Garth’s parents’ soybean farm. They are greeted by his mother.
In June of 2015, I wrote a piece taking place on the Sunday after their first date. Samantha texts Garth and asks to come over. He is just waking up but gladly accepts. So he drives to her parents’ home and picks her up. He then drives her to his home for the first time. He warns her about his shady neighbors and states that his home isn’t the best. She states that it doesn’t matter to her. After they enter he reads to her from his computer until he hears her stomach growling. He asks if she is hungry. She replies about how she is and that her mom went on an eating binge and ate all the food in their house. So he feeds her some pork n beans, the only food he has in his house. She wolfs them down. Afterward, they watch Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2 on broadcast television, while they snuggle on the sofa. After watching the movie, they eat rice pudding and drink a coffee, chicory and milk blend then he takes her home.
Sometime in the Summer of 2015, I wrote the piece which takes place on Christmas Day. It starts with Garth making a breakfast of French Toast for Samantha. She is sitting on the bed doing research on her smartphone and finds out that she is legally at the age of consent, despite still being seventeen, in their state (which is based mostly on Louisiana where seventeen is indeed the age of consent), unbeknownst to Garth. He serves her breakfast and they awkwardly eat. She says how he should meet their parents since it is Christmas Day. There is freezing rain but they head out. During the car ride, Samantha says that she did some research and found out that she is legal. Garth is confused and asks what do you mean. She explains that seventeen is the legal age of consent in their state and that he didn’t break the law. She then confesses that she is afraid he won’t feel obligated to stay with her now that he knows this. Garth assures her that there isn’t anything in creation that could cause him to leave her. She asks him point blank what if he got her pregnant. He then said how he would then marry her and that he already wants to, its just he cannot afford a ring on his low wages. Samantha brightly beams after hearing this. Her dad then calls wanting to know where she is. She explains who she is with that he is good to her and that he does indeed love her. She then says that they are headed to the house at the moment. Upon arrival they ring the doorbell and Samantha’s dad answers, saying how they’ve met before. Samantha is confused and wants to know how. Her dad explains how he waited on him and The Downtown Grocer and took very good care of him, but was punished for talking instead of working. Garth says how he is on thin ice because of that incident. Samantha’s dad says how he can easily get him a better job but wants to make sure that he is committed to Samantha first and then asks how did they meet. Samantha interjects and tells the story and goes on to say that Garth is the only one who accepted her despite her weight. Her dad then says how she has an underactive thyroid gland and the weight is not her fault. He goes on to say how it tore him up seeing her rejected and lonely all the time. Garth despite being Autistic looks him in the eyes and says how he knows rejection too and that Samantha is the only one who wants him despite his quirks and awkwardness and that he would never dream of breaking her heart. Her dad then says how he is holding Garth to that statement and knows people who could tar and feather him. He then invites them in for Christmas Dinner, which is Asian takeout since he refuses to shop at The Downtown Grocer anymore. Samantha’s mom enters the room and asks Garth who the hell are you. Samantha replies that’s my boyfriend mom, don’t embarrass me. Her dad quickly says, let’s all eat, it’s Christmas and it should be peaceful. Thus the piece is concluded.
On November 7, 2015, I was sitting in the Paradis, Louisiana library and wrote the piece on when Samantha meets Garth’s parents while evacuating from the train derailment. After being greeted by his mother, she suggests that they must be tired from their trip and that Samantha can have his old bed and Garth can sleep on the sofa. Samantha becomes very distressed and Garth says how that is not necessary because they are both adults. Garth’s mother asks Samantha her age, to which she replies how she just made eighteen and she was in the process of moving in with him. This upsets Garth’s mother even more because they aren’t married. Garth’s dad wakes up and walks into the kitchen, wanting to know what is going on. Garth tells about the terrorist attack. His dad curses the terrorist groups. His mother commands him to explain the rest. Garth says how his mom is angry because he and Samantha want to sleep in the same bed. His dad tells her not to be so hard on him and they thought he wouldn’t ever find anyone because of his condition. Samantha gets very upset and wants to know what condition he has because she thinks it is something life-threatening. Garth’s dad says that he is mildly Autistic. Garth then looks at her and says how he was afraid to tell her because he thought she would leave him. Samantha replies reassuringly how she never would leave him because he loves her and reveres her. She then goes on to say that she is so fat anyway. Garth tells her that he likes her beautiful curves and that he feels bliss holding her at night. Garth’s mother then sharply commands him to watch it. Garth’s dad suggests that they all hit the sack. Garth’s mother walks to her liquor cabinet and takes a shot of whiskey, then another and tells them to do what they want. Garth’s dad shows them to the bedroom.
In March of 2016, I wrote the ending piece [but not the final piece.] Garth has now become a famous writer, so he fixed up his house, bought a new truck, a new computer and an engagement ring for Samantha. He then drives to her parents’ house to pick her up. He had asked her dad’s permission to marry her the previously to which he happily agreed. Garth then opens the passenger door for her and helps her in. He then drives her to the park. After they arrive, he suggests that they go sit on the bench where they sat when they first met. After sitting for just a moment, Garth gets down on one knee, pulls out the ring and proposes to her. Her eyes swell with tears and she happily says yes. The cook from his former job is in the park with all of her illegitimate children. Garth stands on the bench and says how he just proposed to the girl of his dreams and she said yes. Everyone in the park claps and cheers. The cook then starts yelling to the crowd how Samantha is fat and Garth is retarded and that they will be on disability and all of them will have to pay taxes to support them and any children they have. Garth then stands up to the cook and says he actually got a job as a romantic novelist, but that probably means nothing to her. He then says that either she leaves them alone or he will call the police. The cook pulls out a revolver and shoots Garth dead. She then aims for Samantha but several people wrestle the gun from her. Samantha sees Garth dying and her heart explodes. She then collapses on top of him and dies as well. The cook in these stories is based on several women whom I had the unfortunate experience of being acquainted with over the years. She is basically violently jealous of Samantha because she is only intimately known to one man, Garth, who exceedingly loves and reveres her at that, whereas the cook has children for several different men all who used her. The piece was also inspired by Meghan Trainor’s song “I’m Gonna Love You Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” That song was popular around that time. I actually caught a lot of flack for writing this, especially from my then wife, now ex-wife. After writing this, I decided that the series was too offensive and the world wasn’t ready for it, so I decided to start writing other series, “A Train Conductor Meets a Disabled Writer”, which I haven’t had much success with.
In November of 2016, while sitting at the Raceland, Louisiana library, I wrote two more pieces covering the time Garth and Samantha spent in the country while they were evacuated from the train derailment. It starts off with Garth and Samantha waking up in his old bed at his parents’ house and finding out that the heater isn’t working. Garth turns on his flashlight that he had packed (a vintage First Alert Ready-Lite that came with his house) to check the thermostat but then the bulb burns out. Samantha calls for him to come back to bed, which he does until they are both overtaken by the hunger pangs. So they walk to the kitchen where Garth’s mother is putting pancakes and bacon on the table. They eat, though there is great tension in the air. Garth says how the heater is broken. His mother corrects him and says how it is just out of oil. She then tells him to make himself useful and to go to the hardware store and get more oil. Garth says he plans to go there anyway to get a new bulb for his flashlight. Quickly they leave the house and go into town. They arrive at the hardware store just as it is opening up. Other customers are being waited on, so Garth and Samantha walk around the store. Garth meets the owner’s son and a former classmate of his while Samantha takes a call from her dad and goes into a corner. The owner’s son was once a football star but ended his career in college from an injury. He says how he now tries to be the best hardware salesman he could be. Garth explains how he is in town because the city he lives in was evacuated because of the train derailment and he needs bulbs for his flashlight and oil for his parents’ heater. The salesman looks in the computer and says there are five bulbs left. Garth says he will take all five of them, then says he’ll be paying cash for the bulbs but to charge to oil to his parents’ account. The salesman suggests he buy a Mini Maglite LED flashlight because the power might be back on to charge his flashlight. Garth says he doesn’t have enough cash for both the bulbs and the Mini Maglite. The salesman says to charge it to his parents’ account. Garth says they would be livid if he did. Samantha comes out of the corner from her phone call and says how she will gladly buy the flashlight for him like she bought gasoline for him at the truck stop. She goes on to say how he can pay her back all night long. Several people point and stare at them, then whisper amongst themselves. Garth charges the oil to his parents’ account, pays cash for the bulbs and Samantha buys him the Mini Maglite LED with her debit card. At the time of writing this, I had never been to Northeast Louisiana, in fact, the first time I had gone there was in mid-April of 2018. The hardware store reminded me of one I had worked at, in Houma, Louisiana, just in a more rural setting. It also reminded me of one in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Earlier in April of 2018, I went to a rural hardware store in Napoleonville, Louisiana, and purchased a Mini Maglite LED just like the one featured in this piece. I was trying to recreate and live out these stories in my own weird way, I guess. The piece concludes with Garth opening the car door for Samantha and then getting in the driver side. His mother calls him on the phone wanting to know why he and Samantha were acting lewd in the store, because of her saying he can pay her back all night long for the flashlight. She then commands them to hurry and come home because it is freezing there. This scene was based on a campaign speech I heard from Mike Huckabee where he stated that he lived in a small close-knit community and if he did anything “wrong” several people would have already called his parents to tell them, before he even got home. Also, I grew up in a small town and lived in another (Raceland, Louisiana and Mathews, Louisiana) where the people there are a bunch of nosy busybodies. I have yet to bring my girlfriend around these towns in public because I know that everyone there will see that I am not with my ex-wife, despite my divorce being final since October 11, 2018, and that there will indeed be a lot of pointing and staring. Quite a few phones would probably start ringing as well. The second piece of this begins with Garth driving Samantha back to his parents’ house and explaining to her that the people in the hardware store called his parents’ house about the comments she made about him paying her for the flashlight and that he is not angry with her and that he indeed will pay her back all night long, but she needs to be careful what she publically says and does in a small town. He comforts her by saying that she probably never went to a small town and didn’t realize that “everybody knows everybody”-a line from a certain Tracy Byrd song about living in the country and that small town people are busybodies. They soon arrive at Garth’s parents’ house to which he hands his mother the tank of oil then they go to his bedroom. Garth installs a new bulb in his flashlight then opens up the packaging of the Mini Maglite LED and installs the batteries and turns it on. He is impressed by the brightness and reminds Samantha that he will indeed pay her back all night long with tips and interest compounded nightly. His mother is secretly listening to the conversation, then barges in and wants to know from Samantha how long have they “been screwing out of wedlock.” Garth tells her she doesn’t have to answer that. His mother says for them to find another place then. Samantha breaks down and says, how they first had sex on Christmas Eve. Garth’s mother gets angry with him and accuses him of charming Samantha. Samantha said how he didn’t charm her, that he does write beautiful stories but she wanted him before that and he was the only one who didn’t reject her, despite her size. Garth’s mother then insists that if they will live like a married couple then they will have the responsibilities of a married couple. She orders Garth to help his dad on the farm and Samantha to help her cook and clean. She even forbids them from sharing a kiss before going to work. Garth sulks, walks to the barn and enters, turning on his new flashlight. His dad is impressed by the brightness. Garth says how Samantha bought it for him. His dad says she is a keeper and that he had been praying that he finds someone. Garth says how his mother isn’t happy about the relationship to which his dad says she just doesn’t like seeing him all grown up. Garth says how his mother wants him to work on the farm for as long as he stays there. His dad then asks him to help change the fluids in the tractor, then to organize the barn, as he used to when he was a child. He has said that it has gotten into disarray since he moved out. Garth’s dad is loosely based on Noah Calhoun’s dad from “The Notebook.” Garth spends the day organizing the barn until the sun goes down. Samantha helps Garth’s mom cook and clean then she also reads some of Garth’s older stories, falling even more in love with him. Finally, the day is done, Garth and his dad come in and are served green beans and seared chicken breasts. As they are eating dinner, Garth and Samantha get alerts on their phones that the evacuation order is lifted. Minutes later, the assistant store director calls Garth and tells him he has twenty-four hours to return to work or he will be terminated. Garth’s mother makes a comment about them going home and screwing. Garth’s dad walks them to the car and suggests they get married.
In 2017, I had rewritten most of the series, but also began working on another replacement offshoot, known as “A Disabled Electrician turned Writer” which was supposed to have similar themes as these stories but without so much controversy. I had slightly more success than my previous offshoot but haven’t written any more of it since 2018. Also in 2017, I began writing “Two Foamers in Love”, yet another offshoot replacement, but haven’t gotten much of it done.
On September 4, 2018, I wrote my latest piece of the series which actually is/was a prequel to the whole series. From Garth’s perspective, he is stocking salad dressing at “The Downtown Grocer” and how he hates his job and wishes at twenty-two he would have done so much more with his life. He thinks about his loneliness and how if someone loved him for him, he would love her immensely in return and treat her with the utmost reverence. He then thinks about his writing and tries to remember all of the inspirations coming to him in waves. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and he will be off, to which he plans to go to the park and write. He works late into the night, sweeping the warehouse and taking out the trash after the store is fronted and blocked. He gets off at 11:02, goes home and goes straight to bed not realizing that tomorrow he will meet the love of his life.
Meanwhile, from Samantha’s perspective, her mother just took several Xanaxes and then has crashed into a deep sleep. Samantha then goes into the kitchen and eats some canned fruit and drinks some milk. She says how she hates her life and how it isn’t like most seventeen-year-olds. She talks about her underactive thyroid gland and her weight problem and how she has liked many boys but they all reject her. She says how she wishes she could find a boy or even a young man who would love her for her and how she would treat him like a king. She says how she dropped out of school because she cannot get a ride to the private school she was attending because her mom is always loaded and because of her weight, she knows she would be tormented and harassed relentlessly if she began attending the public high school in her district. She contemplates suicide, by taking all of her mother’s Xanaxes at once. However, a voice in her head tells her not to give up. She goes into her room and watches “The Notebook” on demand. She watches until she can no longer keep her eyes open. Her mom then wakes up from a deep sleep and is belligerent. Samantha hears the voice again, saying just a little while longer. Her dad then comes in and argues with her mom all night long. Samantha goes to bed and dreams about those little encouraging voices, little does she know that tomorrow she will meet the love of her life…