I called my wife before I left work. I’m not sure why I did this. Maybe it was out of courtesy. Maybe it’s a habit my mom beat into my head when I was a kid. Or maybe I’m just not that bright.I think it’s the last one.
“I’m going to the store on my way home,” I told her.
That was simple enough, right? In the Western world, a guy saying “I’m going to the store” usually means “I’m out of beer.” Everyone knows that. Well, everyone but women.
“Great,” she said. “Do you have a pen? We need a few things…”
There’s a guy rule, an important guy rule, designed to protect ourselves from our own stupidity-don’t tell your wife you’re going ANYWHERE.
I obviously haven’t learned that rule.
To a man, “I’m going to the store” is a declarative sentence-nothing else. There’s nothing to “I’m going to the store” that means anything other than “I’m going to the store.” But, to a wife it’s an invitation. When a woman says, “We need a few things,” that translates into Womanspeak as “I need a few things. Things I’ll either eat, use for occult ceremonies, or throw away just to spite you.” Oh, yeah, women are spiteful like that.
“We need M&Ms, raisins, pretzels, and almond bark,” she said. “Got that?”
“Yeah, yeah, honey,” I bumbled. “I got it.”
M&Ms? Raisins? Plutonium? What the hell’s all that for? I wondered, before realizing it would probably be better if I didn’t know.
I actually like going to the grocery store. It’s a big, friendly building with meat, cheese, and smiling people who say things like “Good day” and “May I help you?” It’s like a tiny Wisconsin with fewer drunks. But I hate grocery shopping, especially grocery shopping that doesn’t include bacon and whiskey-it’s work.
I acted like I had a bad cart as I wheeled it through the store, bumping into displays of canned corn, store-brand breakfast cereal whose main ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup (known as “smack” on the streets), and noisy kids… especially noisy kids.
I had almost everything on the list-beer, pretzels, M&Ms, and raisins. The words “almond bark” sat on the list all smug and confident in the knowledge that I didn’t know what it was. I think it even gave me the finger.
Not knowing what almond bark was didn’t bother me as my wife rattled off words that (in my mind) fit together as peacefully as countries in the Middle East. I’m a Slim Jim man, born and bread, damnit. Sweets confuse me. But now, as I was confronted with actually taking something home, I was worried about my wife’s reaction when I brought home actual almonds and bark.
So I did something guys hate to do, I thought about it. Then I pointed the cart down the aisle labeled “baking” and went in. Like most guys, I don’t bake. Whenever I do anything involved in making food, I cook-usually with a large open flame. Baking is as alien to me as a Triffid, that’s why I figured almond bark must be for baking. As I went down the aisle, reading the strange names on strange packages, I might as well have been in the cantina scene in “Star Wars.”
Then I found it. Almond bark. And I could only think my wife was home laughing at me. She must have done this on purpose-there were two types of almond bark.
Wait a second. There’s white and there’s brown? Two types? There are TWO types of almond bark? She didn’t say anything about two types? What the …
“You look lost,” a female voice said. I turned toward a grandmotherly woman who’d stopped beside me. I frowned.
“Yes, I am,” I said. “If you sent your husband to the grocery store for almond bark, what would you want him to bring home?”
She lifted a big bar of white something off the shelf and plopped it into my hand.
“This one,” she said, smiling like I’d just done something really cute… and by “cute” I mean “stupid.”
I thanked her, paid for the groceries, and went home only to discover my wife wanted the brown kind.
Ladies, there’s a simple solution to this problem-don’t ask your husband to do anything. ANYTHING. Oh, sure, you might think a better solution would be to give him a more detailed list, but that’s what we men call nagging.
So, when you get the urge to ask your husband to pick up something from the store, stop, understand the fact that him bringing home the wrong thing is worse then him bringing home nothing, and go to the store yourself. That way everyone’s happy.
Oh, and while you’re up, would you grab me a beer?
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Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or tsup.truman.edu. Visit Jason’s Web site, www.jasonoffutt.com, for his other books.