Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

There’s something very fulfilling about being an old guy out Christmas shopping with your wife.  Depending on your attitude at a given moment, people cut you some slack.

Last weekend, we were in Lexington (KY) shopping and had had a pretty calm and productive day.  “So what else needs to be done?” I asked innocently.  And, stupidly.  “I only need to go to Fayette Mall,” Brenda said.  It was 4 in the afternoon, we had a 2-hour drive back home, and I looked at her panic stricken.  We’ll not get back home for church tomorrow.  But, we thought, how bad could it be?

Let me tell you.  My first mistake was getting off Nicholasville Road to take a short cut in the back way to the Mall.  After it took five times to get through one traffic light, I entered the Mall property.  Cars were almost non-stop. No, let me rephrase that.  They were stopped.  I had intended to drop Brenda off at the other end of the mall and then drive to Critchfield’s a few blocks away to get country ham.  Then I’d quickly circle back and go find my lovely bride.

Our car made a snail look like a shell on speed, so Brenda said, “Just let me off here.”  Here was next to the road “near” the other end of the Mall where she wanted to be.  We agreed that was efficient.  I let her off and got back into the traffic. However, this time I was going against the mall traffic.  It wasn’t too bad.

Three pounds of country ham later, I head back to the Mall.  No short cuts.  Once on Mall property, I searched for a spot in all the many acres of parking.  Nothing.  I even went to an adjacent shopping center.  So did 600 million of my friends.  Just as I decided to call Brenda and tell her I would circle the wagons until she got outside, I saw a young mother and her daughter with packages walking from the Mall.  Stalking isn’t a nice word.  But, I pulled up next to her. “Are you parked close by?”  “Yes,” she laughed.  “Follow me.”  I did. I stuck to her like ugly on an ape.

They got in their car and I parked alongside.  A tired shopper behind me took exception with my not moving and gestured.  I didn’t care.  I was old.  I was tired.  And, that parking place was MINE!!!!!  Just as the lady began pulling out from her parking place, a car pulled around me to take claim to the opening.  I jumped out of the car, pointed at the space and said, “That one’s mine!!!”

He watched as I pulled in.  I figure he either thought I was old and might have a heart attack or was afraid I was so old I didn’t have much longer to live anyway.  But, he didn’t challenge me.

Another old codger in a passing car applauded me and gave me the gray panther closed fist victory sign that I hadn’t seen in 30 years. There may be nothing more unified than grumpy old men.

I parked and called Brenda as I walked into the Mall. “I’m at the Disney store,” she said.  “I’ll be there,” I told her.

I approached the store, and 15 gazillion people were in there.  I called her and said, “No way I’m coming in.  I’ll wait in the front of the store.”

“I’m not there anymore,” she said.  “Actually, I’m right behind you.”  I turned and there she was.

She immediately said, “I’m through and ready to go.”

She didn’t know about my parking excursion.  “After what I’ve been through,” I stammered, “I’m not leaving. Buy something!!!!”

Date of Blog Story: 
December 23, 2008

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