It doesn’t matter the season, Mary will always find a reason to shop. And if she has a coupon it would take a small army of ninjas to keep her out of the store. So when she says we are going to Kohls because “I have a coupon for 30% off and a store credit for $10, and I think I might get another 10% if I use another charge card,” you know it’s going to be a long day.
I sometimes will wait in the car, napping, while she seeks out the treasures the magic coupons’ promise. But this time I felt brave and courageous and decided to test my tolerance for “shopping,” which means I would have to find some way to amuse myself by playing a game much like “hide and seek” but with no actual hiding and no serious seeking. It goes like this: she says “I am going to the kids toys department.” That simple declaration is both a command for me to follow and a challenge for me to see how quickly and unobtrusively I can disappear before she notices that I have once again slipped away. I can generally manage a good ten minutes of freedom before she realizes that I am not nipping at her heels like a little puppy. This is the “hiding” part of our game. Then she pulls out her Annoying Immature “Husband Finder,” otherwise known as a cellphone, and calls me to determine, first, my whereabouts and then the proper punishment for this latest offense. I think the use of the cellphone is cheating, but since I am the only one playing, I can’t complain to the refs.
“ Where are you now? “ Her voice had that certain threatening edge to it, so I know I’m losing points rapidly. “You were supposed to be helping me in the kids’ toys department but as usual , you wandered off and got lost.”
“I’m not lost. I know exactly where I am.” I had wandered into the kitchen area and was enjoying lusting after the shiny Cuisenarts and Keuregs and all the optional accessories that went with them. I love kitchen stores, almost as much as a good hardware store with all the doodads and gizmos on display that you didn’t know you needed but now can’t live without.
“Well, try not to get lost on your way to the toy department. I need your help carrying this stuff.” She wasn’t scolding me yet. She was a clever opponent, waiting until I was loaded down with packages before ripping me a new one. I took my time getting to where I was supposed to be, browsing through the personal electronics but stopped short of making the right turn down the aisle that would take me to the kids toys. I hesitated because walking down that aisle involved walking past the Ladies Lingerie Department on my left side with the kids’ toys on my right. I get vaguely uneasy when passing ladies lingerie, feeling as though I’m a peeping pervert invading the privacy of all the women who will buy and wear all those lacy and frilly foofoos to cover up their hoohas. Since the lingerie was in such close proximity to the little boy’s toys, I like to think of that area as the Big Boys’ Toys Department.
When I arrived at the designated department, Mary had a bunch of the usual plastic junk gathered in a pile in one corner. She says she wanted my opinion on which stuff I liked best (as if I’m going to play with that junk). I just sort of pointed a finger in the general direction of the plastic wasteland and mumbled dire predictions that my grandchildren would end up being buried under that slag heap.
After Mary tied me to the leash she carries with her for those times when I show signs of wandering off, we loaded up the cart with a rather precarious pile of soon to be junk and headed for the elevator, nearly taking out 4 feet of hanging foofoos as we tried to get there. While waiting for the slowest elevator in the western hemisphere to travel all of 12’ between floors, we started a conversation with another glassy- eyed pair of worn out grandparents who were inspecting the haul in our cart and recommending other toys that they had purchased somewhere along the way. Critiques and reports on the varying quality of our choices followed. As loaded to the ceiling as we were, they matched us box for box. We bowed to their supremacy in the “Grandparents as Spoilers Of Their Grandkids” contest. We should have handicapped the contest, however, since they had numerous grandkids to help pump up their score, while we had the two little girls and one big boy to do battle with. Of course, if you figured in the Cuteness and Smartness categories, we would have humiliated them, walking away with the coveted trophy.
Did I mention that we were on the slowest elevator in the western hemisphere? Actually, it wasn’t the elevator’s fault. Once we got on the elevator it was a good 5 minutes before any one of the four of us present in that cramped space thought to push the button with the upward pointing arrow. So if seniors like us were using the elevator to ferry seniors from one floor to the next all day, and if you figure in the typical length of the conversations that took place in said elevator, my quick calculations had us as the third users of the elevator that day. It was near 3:30 PM. That elevator had one cushy job.
Leaving Kohls, Mary had the bright idea that we ought to stop at Barnes and Nobel to look for some books for you know who. I was good with that idea because I love bookstores, and I love my grandkids. That was a match made in heaven. For the next hour I was totally absorbed in looking at all those books and practicing my disappearing skills. There was no way she was going to drag me out of there before I had my fill of words collected into sentences, then paragraphs and chapters and finally books. So many books, so few eyes. That rejuvenating visit to a bibliophile’s version of heaven
gave me the strength I needed to get us home after a long and tiring day. By the time we turned into the condo complex we call home, it was fully dark outside. But that was perfect. Or so we thought. You see, we were both looking forward to driving into our driveway while admiring all those Christmas lights I had worked so hard on. Before we knew it we had driven totally around the circle drive without seeing our lights. We drove right past our place with no light display to ooh and aah over.
“ Didn’t you turn on the lights this morning like we discussed?”
“I thought you did,” I responded.
“And I thought you did,” she answered.
It took two more attempts to find our condo in the dark, but eventually we succeeded.
A natural conclusion to a typical day in the continuing saga of “Bob and Mary’s excellent adventure.