Friday, August 20, 2010

Acquiring the Coconut

Now that I'm old(er) I am perceived more often as mellow and mature rather than exhausted and out of shape which is usually the case. I'm better off because of this (mis) perception as otherwise today I might be typing from a jail cell where my evil twin, Skippy, could have landed the both of us. As it is, I'm adding a bit of fresh-squeezed lime to my Pepsi One, and smiling a tight, little grin since all of us really care about the same thing, ourselves. But I digress.

I've mentioned more than once that I assemble at the local grocery a salad for lunch the previous afternoon on my way home from work (thanks to Michelle's gardening prowess, I can skip the tomato offerings in the store and enjoy her homegrown one). Not sure why but Wednesday the grocer was  crowded with people and all of the you-scan-it-yourself-and-go registers were jammed. I have often idly speculated about a 'one item or less' line and was having that very thought while standing behind a person in the 'Twelve Items or Less' lane that had, by my count forty-two items.

Poe called him Imp of the Perverse. Since I'm neither an Orioles fan nor deceased, I'm a bit less grand-I call that other me, the one who longs to say what he means 24/7 and let the chips (and other detritus) fall where they may, "Skippy" my evil twin. My friend Evert calls his alter ego Jif (I'm surprised after this, he didn't call him 'Levi'. KIDDING). We're both children of the Cold War and TV dinners era, can you tell?

The longer I stood in line, the more restive Skippy became. At no time would I have ever suggested to the patron before me that while Hooked on Phonics is important, learning to count is also a nice skill  to have, though Skippy might have. I, of course, realized this shopper knew exactly just how much stuff she had-she chose to not care. Six feet away from the self check-out register was the young summer hire, fresh stick of gum in her mouth. She was there to help, said so right on the sign over her head, but both I and the dyscalculaic in front of me were beyond that.

When everything had been scanned and the check filled out and processed, rather than leave, the Countess (as I now thought of her) chose to gather up all the coupons generated by her purchases and spat out of a dispenser one money-saver at a time and read each one while standing at the register. I could feel the gorge rise in my veins as she either added them to the chaos in her purse or discarded them on the conveyer belt perhaps in the belief  the unwanted-coupon-fairy would be along shortly.

After twice hailing and failing to get her attention (to take her own trash away) I realized as a startled someone outside the store looked back at me through the window, her ears worked as well as her math abilities and were just as selective. Undaunted, I scanned my salad, paid for it and started to load it into a bag to make my getaway. At that moment my nominee for employee of the month observed that 'you didn't put your limes in the bag.' Technically, she was half-right.

Sitting on the belt beside my salad were two limes. I told her they probably belonged to the Countess ahead of me but the humor was lost on her. Her concern were the two limes and making sure I took them and nothing I could say made a jot of difference. Welcome Skippy. Turn and face the strange.

After her four or more insistences that the loose citrus fruit were mine, I watched Skippy grab one and hurl it as hard as he could into a shopping cart behind the help deskette. Splatttt! Eeewww. I think Skippy's evil twin is Nolan Ryan. The young person was taken aback by both the violence and suddenness of my action and scolded 'you can't do that!' I heard Skippy emphatically assure her he 'certainly could', though he used a shorter word than 'certainly', since it was she who told him the limes were his. All of us had suddenly reached the city limits of ugly moment. I had a Steely Dan insight and acted quickly since jail grub upsets my stomach.

I grabbed the other lime, plopped  it in the bag and hurried from the store. I'm fully intending to drop Una a line to ask if Harry ever shared just how large a coconut you're supposed to use since I simply can't get used to the taste of this soda and I'll be damned if I'm throwing out this lime.
-bill kenny    

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