a matter of size

I went into a Thrifty drugstore to buy
some shorts, paperclips and toothpaste
and this ethnic girl
about 32
walked up to me:
“listen, what size are you?”
“large,” I said.
“you’re not extra-large?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I want to buy some shirts for this guy
and I don’t know his size.   and I need
some stockings too… for him.”
“is he extra-large?”
“I don’t know.   he’s about your size.”
she stood very close to me.
“I don’t know what to tell you,”
I said.
“now,” she said, “look at these stockings,
do you think they’d fit him?”
“yes, you see, they stretch from 9 to 12.”
“what’s that mean?”
“it means it will fit.”
“it stretches, eh?”
“yes.   you just met him?”
“I really can’t advise you without seeing
“well, look, honey, I want to thank you
“forget it.”
I walked off.   when I got outside to my car
I realized I had gotten the toothpaste and paperclips
but I had forgotten to buy the
but she was still in there
and maybe he was extra large and
maybe he didn’t even
the latter wouldn’t be bad
but there was so much work

I got into the car and drove off
wondering if she were thinking this or
in 33 minutes I’d forget her.
shorts weren’t that

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: