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2 January 2008

We try to do most of our grocery shopping at the local food co-op. I’ve noticed a certain type of person three times there, and although I checked with the Consort, he says he hasn’t noticed this (although sometimes he can be sort of oblivious, you know, so his not being able to back me up on this means nothing, whatsoever). Perhaps it’s because I’m one of those look-in-the-windows people (if it is dark out and you leave your curtains open, I’m looking in — if you wanted privacy, you should have drawn the drapes!). Looking in car windows is not much different, I suppose.

This is what I see: an elderly man, sitting in the passenger seat of a car, reading a paperback. The first one I saw was in the fall, so he had the window open. The next two have been in the winter, so the window is up and the car engine is on, to keep them warm, I imagine (those energy wasters!).

And yes, these are definitely different men, not the same one three times.

In talking it over with the Consort, I’ve decided that what probably happened was this: One man was dragged by his partner to run errands (“You need the fresh air!”). He knew he wouldn’t win the argument and be able to just stay home, so he agreed to come along. But! He refused to leave the car when they reached the grocery store. “I’ll just stay here and read my book, which I just so happened to have brought with me,” he’d have said. His partner might have argued a bit at first, but no one wants to waste too much time bickering with a stubborn so-and-so, so the driver got out of the car and went ahead with the shopping.

And this became their habit. A one-couple habit.

Until.

Another retired man, being dragged hither and yon to run errands (“You need the fresh air!”), and cranky from all the chit-chatting that goes along with making the rounds in a small town, happened to glance down into a car as he and his partner made their way through the parking lot into the co-op.

“Hey!” He’d have said to himself. “That guy is reading a book in the car! That lucky so-and-so! . . . What a genius idea!”

And the next time he was hauled all over creation — hearing the same gossip time and again, having to make small talk with people he preferred to ignore — he would make his stand at the co-op. As his partner turned off the engine, and made sure the shopping list was in hand, he would turn to them and say, “I’ll just stay here and read my book, which I just so happened to have brought with me. You go on ahead.”

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