#4 – ‘Shop ‘Till You Drop (Or Stab Someone).’
(Originally published 9/8/08.)
CDP Headquarters experienced an emergency last week, as we nearly ran out of Mojitos on a Friday night. This would have proven to be disastrous, as it’s prohibited by law to head into the weekend sober if you happen to be spending the evening at my house. Like a flash of alcoholic lightning, the Missus, myself, Benjamin and Sherry hopped into the car and drove to the supermarket to get the many ingredients necessary to create this delicious and unbelievably complicated Summertime drink (seriously, it takes like, three months to make).
The Copp’s Food Center down the street had almost everything we needed, but had just run out of mint shortly before we arrived (perhaps everyone in Wyndham Hills had the same idea as us). This left us with one of two options:
1. No Mojitos (unacceptable by any means necessary).
2. Travel to the…other…supermarket across town.
You know the kind of supermarket I’m talking about. The one with the fluorescent lighting that makes you slit your wrists with a cat food lid as soon as you walk in. The one where everyone seems to get gutshot in the parking lot. The one where every checkout girl is 10 months pregnant with a baby that’s already 4 months pregnant. The one where Peter Cetera never seems to stop singing. Yeah, the trip to the belly of Hell was about to be made for the good of the timeless Rum Highball.
“I’ve never been to this grocery store before,” said a wide-eyed and naive Benjamin.
“Well, settle in. You’re in for a treat,” I quipped back, before checking my eyebrows in the rearview mirror and taking my pocket knife out of the glove compartment.
When we stepped into the Sentry Foods, I was instantly reminded of all the sadness and suffering in the world. It seemed to be in a constant state of unkempt renovation, as were the patrons. “Let’s just get this stupid mint and get the hell out of here,” I said. I’m typically always on the verge of a panic attack if you see me out in public, and this was certainly no exception.
As we meandered around the aisles, looking for a proverbial mint-flavored needle in a crap-flavored haystack, the Missus darted off in the correct direction while I was distracted. As I tried to catch up, I attempted to crack my friends up by doing my signature ‘Power Walk.’ If you’re unfamiliar with the ‘Power Walk,’ I suggest checking out Mr. McMahon’s WWE entrance. I do this in public all the time, because I think it’s hilarious and it leads people to believe that I have something wrong with me.
As you can probably surmise, it’s the funniest thing that has ever happened in America. That entrance song is also my ringtone. Let’s move on.
As I power-walked around the corner and caught up with the Missus (who found the mint), I noticed a random shopper that was looking at me. He was short and chubby, tan-skinned, slightly feminine, backwards cap and dressed like a frat boy douchebag. We’d never get along, even if he was a Red Sox fan.
As the four of us crowded around the mint and determined just how many metric tons of the stuff we’d need, this guy managed to walk right up next to me and stare me down. He was sweating and appeared to be either severely intoxicated or under the influence of some narcotic. Weirder still, he had no groceries and wasn’t even carrying a basket. I was ready for anything.
“You wearing an iPod?” He asked me, which ranked at approximately #998,603 on the list of the One Million Things I’d Expect To Be Asked By A Stranger At A Grocery Store, wedged right between “I’d like to eat Michael Dukakis’ shoes!” and “Do you know what year it is, Neil Armstrong?“
My friends looked confused as I made the regrettable decision to respond to this sweaty mass of unbalanced humanity. “No,” I said. “Why?”
He then proceeded to mock my amazing Power Walk, all while boasting a please-punch-me-in-the-knob grin. Dude had approached me for the sole purpose of making fun of the way that I pretend-walked.
Now, this shouldn’t be a big deal to anyone with greater mental facilities than myself. Just laugh it off and move on, right? Well, not exactly. This guy had caught me at the wrong time; a time where I wanted to get confrontational and remind him that it’s not nice to insult people. Who knows; maybe that’s how I really walk? Maybe I got hit by a bus as a child and my legs didn’t heal correctly. Maybe I was that guy in the POW camp with John McCain. Maybe I’m retarded and like to embarrass myself in public.
My friends looked at me as if to say, “Please, just walk away from this drunk idiot.” Instead, I came slightly unglued.
“What the hell is wrong with you, man? Do you just approach strangers at random and make fun of the way they walk? Get outta here.”
Dude didn’t really know what to say, so we just sort of walked around him and made our way to the checkout. I was expecting more than that; perhaps I got off lucky. Hell, perhaps he did.
I’m an unassuming-looking guy. Medium build. Nerd glasses and a hipster attire. However, I was raised in one of the most rural parts of Wisconsin, worked at a dairy farm, redneck bar and hardware store, all before the age of 18. I will be more than happy to hand you your ass if the situation should present itself. I have a dangerous problem with male authority and bullying, and any guy that thinks it might be funny to tease or belittle me will be met with the sort of retaliation that can only come from a tiny man that was raised by bipolar women his entire life.
It ain’t worth it, Cowboy.
But the moment had passed, and as we continued around the barren supermarket, my friends were giving me their usual schtick about what I did wrong; which is typically everything.
“Why didn’t you just laugh and walk away?”
“Because that’s a sign of weakness!”
“Why do you have to be such a jerk?”
“He deserved it!”
“Why does this stuff always happen to you?”
“I hit a leprechaun with my car when I was 16; happy?”
As the conversation continued towards the checkout line, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was the dude, sauntering back over to my general vicinity. I tried to act like I didn’t see him, but if he was about to slash my throat with a poorly-concealed razorblade, I should at least make eye contact beforehand.
Was this guy insane? Was he asking for an ass-kicking? My theories were only heightened as he walked slowly past me, slo-mo power-walking the entire way and looking at me with the same douchebag grin. Bastard was egging me on.
Oh, that’s it. Nobody gets between me and my mojitos.
I clutched the knife that was nestled in my pocket; this guy’s eye was about to get carved out of its booze-soaked socket. Then, if I felt like it, I was going to go to his mom’s house and Power Walk on her fresh corpse. The only person allowed to make fun of me is me, especially if this whole thing started due to me already making fun of myself. He was a dead man. A dead, ignorant man who doesn’t understand humor and is now about to get stabbed because of it.
For about the millionth time in my life, I took a split second to fully understand the hilarious ridiculousness of the moment. Through a series of seemingly random and borderline-silly circumstances (jonesing for mojitos, out of mint, cross-town travel, power-walking in front of random passerby), I was about to beat the living hell out of a complete stranger that barely deserved it (I wasn’t really going to stab him; I was just going to…you know…cut him a little).
Only the restraint of the Missus kept the situation from reaching a violent head, as the only thing I was able to do was say “I think you’re done; get the hell out of here.” He put up his hands in a defeated fashion and disappeared, once he realized that I did not find his brand of observational insult humor worthwhile in the least.
You’d think that my friends would praise me as a hero. Someone that stood in the face of annoying opposition and emerged victorious. Perhaps they would even gain some sort of masculine respect or attraction towards me, in that I wasn’t some weak pushover that would take crap from people, regardless of if I might have deserved it for prancing around the supermarket like a gazelle in heat. Maybe they’d feel that I was someone who could protect them should something truly serious go down.
You’d be wrong. As is always the case, this entire situation was my fault. If you think that my ‘I can’t do anything right’ act has worn thin, I can assure you that nobody is more sick of it than I am.
“What did I tell you about this place?” I said to the trio, clucking with disapproval. “Can we please go home and play Rock Band now?“
Thy will be done. And you know what? It was worth it.