Posted by: Arkay | March 21, 2009

A Story Then

The following is blatantly stolen borrowed from a morning radio show I listened to recently and is (poorly) paraphrased for your enjoyment here. Now you have to imagine these words (better written of course) being conveyed by a storyteller in the finest sense of that word. A Master Tale Spinner as it were. Someone with wonderful tone and intonation, pace and timing, quiet yet powerful; a voice that draws you in and carries you along on a delightful journey of description and imagination similar to that which you felt the very first time you read your most favourite tome. With the added benefit of just having to lay back with your eyes closed and take it all in. So, undoubtedly losing something in the remembering/retelling, and not having the pleasure of hearing it ‘live’, I do hope you find some enjoyment my presentation of it here. (any names and locations have been changed/removed to protect the innocent, and I adjusted it a bit throughout as creative license on my part, paraphrase privilege lets call it)

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There was this lovely couple, Chad and Margaret, married for years, yet still delighting in the experience of their life together. They’d shared ups and downs, like any two people spending a good portion of their lives with one another, and had come to a nice balance in most aspects of their marriage. And, like many of today’s ‘enlightened’ modern men, Chad had almost taken on his entire share of half the household duties. And he had a favourite. Grocery shopping. Now to be completely truthful, he had initially taken it on primarily in order to avoid cleaning toilets and the like, but soon found a whole world of adventure in the process. And he kept that sense throughout the years. He’d drive across town just to shop at a store he’d never been to. He’d buy strange cuts of strange meats, or products with only foreign writing on the labels, often providing some additional excitement in the way of future meals as a result. And despite the challenges this sometimes caused for Margaret, she loved him still, and let him have his time away.

Ah, the time away. For Chad, in his wonderment of the adventure of grocery shopping, could spend hours away, losing himself in the whole process, immersing himself like a child at Disneyland for the first time. Up and down every aisle, no quick scan of the overhead signs and a direct track to the needed staples for Chad. Oh no, this was a full scale archeology expedition to discover new species, one that could be hiding anywhere. And he’d backtrack the opposite way, once he was done, just in case he missed a section on one side or the other. Returning home with his one to three bags, he’d set them on the table in the kitchen, smile brightly at Margaret and give her a big hug and soft kiss in thanks. And she thus accepted his time away as one of those delightful quirks one must put up with, if one is to remain happy together. But sometimes, on a very rare occasion, she’d had to give him a timeline. This Saturday past was one of those occasions.

On that day, Margaret had driven Chad to a grocery store, requiring the car herself for an appointment nearby that afternoon. Needing it to be, for Chad, a “go in, get it and get out” trip, she turned to him in the car and said, “Now dear, I need you to be done in an hour. Sixty minutes, not one minute more. I am going to the hairdresser and I’ll be back to pick you up in exactly one hour. I need you to be done and outside by then. An hour, ONE hour, no more. You can’t take any more time than that hour. You really need to be done and out by the time I get back. In an hour. One hour.” And knowing full well they had important plans that evening, he replied, “No worries.”

And he got out of the car, smiled at her and waved her on her way. Chad, checking his watch, was confident he could do it. Striding into the store, taking no time to savour the delicious ambiance, let alone stop and carefully scan the entire layout before taking even a single step further, as was his usual modus operandi, Chad headed straight for the carts and pulled one free. At least, that was his intent. It seems today, for the first time ever in his experience (one of the reasons grocery shopping had continued to delight him all of these years) his cart was stuck in the one in front of it. A couple of tries to free it made Chad realize that ‘stuck’ wasn’t the problem. It was chained to the cart in front, and Chad would need a quarter to free it. Now on this particular day Chad had his credit cards, his debit card and even a personal check, but not a single bit of cash on his entire person, and the car, with its useful change filled ashtray, was speeding away. It seems he would have to go across the street to the ATM, take out $20.00 and then make change somewhere, just to get the cart to get started shopping. He’d lose a good ten minutes or more that way.

As he turned to leave the store, he spotted, beside the ever present bright red and blue rental extractors, a couple of electric scooters. And the sign, “For the Convenience of Our Customers”. Well, thought Chad, if there was ever a time… Quickly scouting the aisles to make sure no one he knew was shopping there, he returned to the cart area and, with one more glance around, he set himself astride one of the units. Thinking to himself, it’s only due to the extreme time pressure, and there’s still another one, just waiting for someone who may actually need it. Checking his watch, he sees that seven minutes have already passed so he turns the key and presses the accelerator. And he’s off.

What joy this is! Cruising up and down aisles, barely slowing to snag and fling cans and packages into the attached basket. What anticipatory wonder when halfway down the cereal aisle he espies a small table set up out the far end with the sample lady smiling at and treating any who pass by. Raising his arm in a wave he smiles and toots his horn at her. He didn’t know he had a horn. He is pleased. Cruising up aside her table, she hands him a cracker with a piece of sausage on it, and a little bit of melted cheese on top. It was good. Very good. He smiles a big smile at her and she gives him another. It too was good. Smiling even bigger, he toots his horn once more and continues with his shopping. So now we have Chad, scooter enamoured, tooting his horn at each of the other shoppers as he cruises the store. Every time he passes the sausage lady, she gives him another sample, albeit with decreasing enthusiasm. However, she’s been trained to deal with such as he, those with special needs.

Finished shopping, he pulls up to the back of the line and looks at his watch again. He’s done it, and with time to spare! Glancing around one last time, he sees the cereal aisle, wide open and empty, calling to him. Falling to temptation, he lines himself up at the entrance, and can be heard to say under his breath, “Let’s see what this baby can do.”

Tromping the accelerator, he takes off. You know, it’s surprising how much pep some of those scooters have. Flying down the aisle, laughing with delight, he takes his foot off the gas as he nears the end of the aisle… and nothing happens. The throttle is stuck. Stomping on the brake does little good either. Now completely out of control, he toots his horn frantically in warning, heading directly for the somewhat surprised sausage lady. Just as he’s about to crash into her table, simultaneous with her flinging of her raw material his way, he careens around the corner and heads up and around. It is about this time that he collides with the man filling the live seafood tanks. Well, more like clips him, sort of a light brush on the way by actually. The important part is that now Chad has a live lobster in his lap… pre elastic banded. And that lobster, like any of us finding ourselves in the same situation, was doing exactly what we would do… looking for something to grab onto.

Chad doesn’t remember much after that. Margaret does. For as she was getting out of her car, in a spot straight out from the doors, here comes Chad, bursting through those same doors, trailing links, out into the parking lot. He hits a speed bump. He gets air. When he comes to, a crowd pressing in all round, he hears the distant sound of a wailing siren approaching and the sausage lady, “Well what did you expect would happen, leaving him all alone and unsupervised like that!” For Margaret, lobster in hand, a string of sausage draped through her new do, it was truly an anniversary she’d never forget. For Chad, he’s now trying to learn the joys of cleaning toilets, both upstairs and down, in his continued attempts to apologize. =)

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Responses

  1. Funny stuff… liked the bit about the lobster…

  2. I could totally picture this in my head!! Great!


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