By Tom Cardella
Uncle Nunzi tells me that my male readership is dwindling. I am not sure how he knows this. I just know that he knows. Uncle hints that my failure — and he lets me know that he does consider this slippage my failure — to attract male readers may be because of low testosterone levels. I am also not sure how he knows that my testosterone levels are low. I just know that he knows.
I must add as a cautionary note that I find my low testosterone level is very advantageous in this time of inappropriate male sexual behavior. To my fellow males: Forget the testosterone shots, you’ll only get into trouble. But I digress.
So, in an effort to widen my appeal — and more importantly — to silence my irksome uncle, I am writing this column to commiserate with my fellow males. …
Hey guys, do you find as I do that while you and your wife are shopping at the supermarket, you lose her somewhere between the peanut butter and the frozen waffles? Be honest. She can’t read your mind. If she could read your mind, your marriage would likely be on its last legs anyway, and you’ve probably tried to lose your wife in many places. And not just in the supermarket.
I write this column after a Saturday afternoon shopping with my wife in our local Acme at 19th and Johnston, or as I like to call it, “The Bureau of Missing Persons.” I lost my wife four times in the Acme today. That’s a personal best for me. Don’t bother asking Fred, the manager, to help you find her. Helpful as he is, if Fred spent his time looking for your lost wives, he would not have time to ruminate, as he loves to do, on whether Bob Weir or Jerry Garcia was the more influential figure on The Grateful Dead. Don’t despair, though, she’ll turn up eventually.
The ironic part of my lost afternoon is that irony is a major part of my life when it comes to Fran’s and my 53 years of marriage. Today’s shopping trip is but one example.
We began our shopping trip with my wife telling me that she didn’t have much time to shop today. It seems that she had a hairdresser appointment. Friends, that’s irony because even Fran will admit that when I shop alone at the market, I shop in half the time because I focus on the “shopping” part of “shopping.”
Flush with a handful of coupons, some of which I invariably lose or misplace along the way, I race around the market plucking items off the shelves like a “bomb cyclone” (I love that term and promise to use it more often in 2018). I check my cart. All coupon items accounted for. No extraneous items purchased, unless they were on sale.
From my spot in front of the multitudinous varieties of yogurt, I call my wife on her cell phone and the call goes directly to voicemail. She is probably trying to reach me, so I hang up and wait, but there is no call. To be fair, I think Fran has given me the lesser part of the shopping list. Of course. I stroll around the store and find that the Herr’s lightly salted potato chips are “Buy One, Get One.” I also find that Fran is nowhere to be found. I am now back in the yogurt section. Looks as if Iceland, Greece and Australia are muscling in on our yogurt market. I’m guessing this White House will blame Obama.
I punch in my wife’s cell phone number. Hit send. Get her voicemail instantly. Maybe she made a stop in the ladies room? No, don’t see her cart anywhere in the vicinity. I ask a female employee if they have a lost and found section for missing wives and she smiles knowingly.
I make another trip around the store, but apparently my beloved mate has disappeared. An obvious “X-Files” case, but I hear that Mulder once lost Scully in the frozen food section. Maybe my friend, Fred, the manager, will consider giving a GPS to all shopper-husbands. Would our wives complain about having to have a chip inserted into the backs of their heads? I am back with the yogurt.
I call my wife. With hopefulness in my heart. Again, one ring and then voicemail. On my fourth trip around the store, I find my wife in the paper products aisle, chatting — unhurriedly — with a friend. My wife has many friends in the supermarket. Maybe even some distant relatives. Fran checks out my cart. Satisfied that I have successfully used all assigned coupons, she suggests that I rest on a nearby chair reserved for pharmacy customers and folks checking their blood pressure. Fran has just “one more item” to pick up.
So I sit. On the shelf in front of me is a children’s book for sale — “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (I am not happy and I hope Fran doesn’t know it).
My cell phone eventually rings. Time to leave. By now, Fran has greeted or had conversations with at least two-thirds of the people in the store, not counting staff. I’ve greeted no one.
The next time that I see Fred I intend to ask him if Jerry Garcia ever had to go food shopping with his wife.