Every story starts with one word. Sometimes it’s a big word, sometimes it’s small. But without that first word, there could never be a second, or a third, or a fourth. So, I think I shall start this story with “The,” and after that, we shall see.
The other day, very early in the morning, I headed out to the local Super-Duper Mega Mart to buy a quart of oil. I always go in the morning because I’m a morning person. I buy oil because my truck requires it. I go to the Super-Duper Mega Mart because it’s practically the only game in town.
Very rarely do I carry my cell phone with me when I shop because I hate to be interrupted in my “get in, get out quick” expeditions. But for some reason, I had my cell phone with me that day – and it was on.
“Dear, since you’re at the Super-Duper Mega Mart, could you possibly buy some milk? I’d really appreciate it.”
That was my wife. She knows my number. I answer, “Yeah, sure, milk, fine.”
That’s how we guys talk. Mono-syllable. Straight to the point. Say what you mean to say, then shut up.
“Oh, and butter too, if you don’t mind. I prefer the kind in the tub, like we always get, but if they don’t have that, whatever you do, don’t buy the squeeze-it butter because that’s just plain nasty.”
Quart of oil, milk and butter. Not too hard. Maybe I should get one of those baskets.
“Oh, and leave your cell phone on just in case I think of anything else we need. Okay?”
I say, “Yeah, sure, phone on, no problem,” but what I’m thinking is, “Why did I ever agree to cell phones?”
The other reason I like shopping early in the morning is because there are less people out and about. They’re all still in bed, watching Good Morning Something or Other, drinking their first cup of coffee and...
Coffee beans. I think we’re out. Best pick up a bag or two. That way when I get home, after I change the oil in my truck, I can settle down and relax with a tall cup of freshly-brewed coffee.
I didn’t always drink coffee. In fact, I’m a new convert. I actually surprised my father and brother this past Christmas when I said if they were fixing coffee, I’d sure like a cup. You should have seen their jaws drop. Then they slapped me on the back and said, “Welcome to the club.”
But I will admit, I doctor up my coffee quite a bit. Can’t stand it black. Which reminds me, I wonder if we have any sugar left? Best call home and see.
“Yes, we have plenty of sugar, but I’ve found some other items we desperately need. Do you have something to write with?”
Holy Cow. Of course I don’t have anything to write with. I just came for a quart of oil. You don’t necessarily have to write down “one quart of oil” when that’s the only thing you’re getting.
But of course I don’t actually SAY all that. Instead, I say, “Yeah, shoot.”
“Well, it’s not much. Okay, we need some eggs, I prefer the two dozen Grade A eggs in the paper carton, not plastic, because it decomposes easier; we need some cheese, either Pepper Jack or Swiss, but we have plenty of cheddar, unless you want to buy some sharp cheddar, but I’ll leave that up to you; we need some bananas, and please make sure they’re yellow and not green like last time, and yes I know you’re color blind, but just ask someone; we could use some frozen vegetables, but just buy the store brand because the other is too expensive; and a couple of cans of tuna in water, not oil, because I’m going to try a new tuna casserole recipe tonight and...Oh, bread. We need bread. I think garlic bread will taste good with the casserole, don’t you? And could you please pick up some more coffee? Whole beans. I like grinding it up fresh. You’ve got all that?”
I say, “Yep, eggs, cheese, bananas, peas, tuna, bread, coffee. Got it,” but inside, I’m crying, because I just wanted oil. Only a quart. Just enough to get my hands dirty.
I say goodbye – then turn off the phone.
Every story starts with one word, followed by another, then another, and then another. Every shopping trip starts with one item, followed by another, then another, and then another. Once you come to terms with that, life is Peachy Keen.