A friend, wearing a tie for the first time, asked me how to tie it. Having been invited to a few too many weddings, this was old hat for me... make that old tie. I tied it around my own neck first rather than doing the behind him ‘Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman’ method. If he had not had me to teach him this, where would he have gone? He went to college and can give a play-by-play account on the Battle for Berlin including troop strength, tank artillery range, and the number of Hitler statues beheaded. While this oh so valuable information would be quite helpful on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, it does nothing for my friend who might have had to wear a dickey like Roy Rogers attending a restaurant opening of the same name.
If it was offered and SUNY New Paltz, I would take a ‘Learn to Dress Yourself’ class. The course outline could include “Why men should match their shoes, belt and watch band”, and “How to accessorize without appearing like you’re on ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’”. I thought about how many other things in life there are no lessons for but should be.
As I pondered this (societal) quandary, my friend’s son walked into the room with ‘bed head’ that only a mother’s spit could set right... which is okay since he is a child. But how many adults do we see on a regular basis with an ‘eye of the storm’ type swirl on their posterior oblongata. Check out the students on campus wearing pajamas and carrying a 64ounce coffee to their 8am class if you want an example of this.
On the way home, I decided to make a mental list of things we should have lessons for. Once on the highway, my accelerator foot needed a rest so I set the cruise control at 65mph. Things seemed to go well for a while until the guy in the SUV in front of me decided to brake which of course caused me to brake. As he accelerated, I followed suit and we were once again, cruising right along... that is until he decided to brake again. I braked and drifted a little to the left, and noticed there was no one in front of him. He was driving a late model truck which surely had cruise control and I was pretty sure Miss Daisy wasn’t in the back seat, so why the brakes? And if not the cruise, why not go along at a steady pace? Its level ground with no cars and miles of country. This guy needs lessons on how to keep his speed constant... maybe even ‘cruise’ right along... it would save his brake pads and increase his gas mileage and help him to be more courteous to drivers like me.
I decided to pull into the fast lane and within a few minutes, I came across a car that had decided to park there... at least that’s how it seemed. You’d think he was piloting the Popemobile. No other cars were alongside him and no amount of tailgating, flashing my brights, or screaming at my windshield could make him vacate said fast lane. As I pulled into the right lane to pass (which would have been appropriate in England, but in the states?), our Sunday driving slowpoke decided to give me the finger. Our clueless friend could use some lessons on proper highway etiquette. The highway not working for me, I decided to continue my driving on local roads.
Heading down rural Route 299 at a slow-paced 35mph, I was day dreaming, looking at the birds in the trees and “Holy shit”, a car jammed its brakes on in front of me. I expected to see a ‘men at work sign’ with the guy in the road holding a small “STOP” or a family of geese that has decided this would be a nice time and place to cross. There was nothing in front of him and I wished the guy piloting the stagecoach from the highway could take his place. After sitting for a few moments, he turned right... with no signal. Did someone tell him about the turn signal stalk on his steering column? Did he get that question wrong on his driving test? Or is he just trying to test my reflexes.
A Michael Bolton song came on the radio (yeah I listen to “The Bolt”; what about it?) and helped me to regain my composure and it reminded me that I needed to buy some groceries. The song was 'Georgia on My Mind' - which isn't really about food but it made me think of the Georgia Peach... and peaches as you may know are sold at the grocery store... that is unless you are talking about the agricultural street entrepreneur on First and Main with the spikey hair, the tattoo of Bill Gates on his forehead, and the bubble gum snapping.
I pulled into the lot at Stop and Shop(I used the signal and barely touched the brakes), and had a hard time finding an empty space... not because there were a lot of cars but because there were carriages strewn throughout the lot like scattering cockroaches when the kitchen light is turned on. So I moved two carts to free up a space to slide my car in and my large fingered friend from the highway decides his SUV needs a home. I explained the situation and I don’t think he wanted to move because he showed me the middle finger on his other hand. I think he was reaching out for help about his overgrown cuticle so I recommended he see a manicurist as it is not my field.
I cleared a new space by ramming my car into it. I wasn’t taking any chances and the marks on my bumper will probably come out with some compound. Grabbing a cart, I made my way to the front of the store. It’s a good thing the entrance is off to the left because that’s the only way this cart seems to want to turn. Going through the first automatic door a woman has decided to stop in front of me... and no, she didn’t use her signal.
Her lack of acknowledgment of me led me to believe that she wanted me to go around her. I went to the left (like this cart gave me a choice) and in doing so, I scraped against the ‘Homes for Sale’ rack on one side and her cart on the other. She glared at me and barked “you should say excuse me” to which I replied “I was about to say the same thing to you”.
On to the snacks aisle where I really love those baked chips... baked? ... how were they cooking them before? Halfway down the aisle, I am once again blocked. What is it with people blocking my way today? With the amount of blocking I’ve seen today, I could forever cure the Giants offensive line woes. And the blockers were now moving towards me. I haven’t felt this confused since the stopped school bus forgot to turn off its flashers and started moving in my direction. I’ve got a stop sign coming at me and, unless I put it in reverse and stay ahead of the bus, I’m looking down the short end of a cop’s ticket book.
I faked left and went right and I got cart indentations in my hip. So I backed off and decided to finesse it and negotiate my way through the wall-o-carts ... are there etiquette rules for situations like this? So three ‘excuse mes’ and two ‘sorrys’ later, it’s Lays across the board. Emmit Smith should have it this easy.
Now on to the dairy aisle where a bunch or carts (or is it a gaggle?) defends the cheese. I dodged left and rolled right... the carts never so it coming. So rubbing other hip (these carts are leaving quite an impression on me... literally), I noticed all are standing around reading labels... and it’s cheese we’re talking about. Is there a new recipe for cheese I’m unaware of? Are there that many people who haven’t tried it yet? Or has Atkins made us believe we actually know what we’re reading on these labels. I have PhD in Physics and would have had an easier time deciphering and Aramaic Bible written in Spanish.
Moving on to the processed grains aisle... and ‘yes’ that is what the sign said. As I made my way down the aisle, I noticed it was obstructed by displays that I am supposed to weave my way through like a mouse looking for cheese. I’m sensing a cheese theme developing. The grocery store seems to think that if I trip over merchandise, I’ll say “oh, just what I was looking for”. How stupid do they think we are? So I shimmy left and glide right and my cart Christines its way into the Goldfish crackers on special and I grabbed two bags.
I need a lesson in grocery store survival. Maybe Dale Earnhart Jr. could open up a grocery cart school. Lesson one could be choosing the proper cart. Lesson two, choosing the proper register line. A few items in tow, I make my way to the checkout; the lines are ten people deep. I think grocery stores need a lesson on how to schedule more than two cashiers on a busy Saturday afternoon. Maybe they call it the ‘check out lane’ because you feel like you’re dead by the time you get to the front of the line.
Our SUV friend was between me and the shortest line. I accelerated to pull around to the left and he drifted that way..... so I hit the brakes and swung right..... right into Miss ‘Excuse Me’ from the front door. She barked “some people” as she made her way in line behind our large fingered friend.
She had the swirl and I hummed the theme song to A Perfect Storm as I weighed my options. The only one seemed to be to sit in line and wait my turn. It’s a good thing I had all that food or I’d be looking for a UN food pallet to parachute through the ceiling.
A new register opened and I was the only one to notice. I pulled out to pass as did the woman in front of me. I side swiped her and scoffed “excuse me” as she stopped to avoid hitting our gas guzzling, manicure needed, brake happy gentleman. I yelled “gas, $2.21 a gallon” which made him reflex his cart into hers; a knee jerk reaction ... if you own an SUV you’ll understand. The impact caused milk to topple out of his cart onto her eggs. She must like them scrambled. I tossed her my cheese just in case she wanted to make an omelet and took the checkered flag through the checkout. The cashier was wearing a dickey as I launched into Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. Maybe there are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.