There was a large box of Pop-Ice in the freezer of my buddy’s shop fridge.
It wasn’t a big deal. I mean, it was Pop-Ice, not a nice bottle of Chardonnay he was chilling for the figure skating competition later. I was just surprised. The contents of a shop fridge are typically beer, beer, summer sausage, beer, bottles of bovine antibiotics, and maybe if you’re lucky, beer. In the freezer, there’s frost.
Pop-Ice is the kind of thing in the freezer of your kitchen fridge. You bought it as a treat for the kids in July because the day was hot and the kids ate exactly three. Now it’s February and the Pop-Ice is buried in the back of the freezer behind the hamburger, ice cream and a brick of foil that’s been there so long you’ve forgotten what it is.
“What’s with the Pop-Ice?” I asked my buddy after grabbing a beer.
I wasn’t prepared for his answer. A guy who loves the NFL, NASCAR and shooting some of God’s most tasty creatures, gave me a hint. A helpful hint. The kind of hint you get from chick magazines and Heloise.
“They’re for the beer cooler,” he said. “The Pop-Ice keeps the beer cold and you can refreeze the ones your kids don’t eat.”
I looked around to see if we were alone. This is the kind of thing women shared with each other. The only thing guys share are tools, stories about days when we had hair, and knowing nods when a cute girl walks by. We don’t share handy tips.
I just hoped he didn’t tell me how to get grease out of my work shirts.
“That’s a good idea,” I said.
Yeah, it was. So why was I suddenly uncomfortable? Would I feel more comfortable if it was a bad idea? What else, I wondered, were we going to say?
The shop was as quiet as a horror movie when the creepy music stops. Was he expecting a tip from me? Did I need to give a tip? Did I have tip? Why did I suddenly feel like a girl?
“Because,” a voice in my head said, a voice that sounded strangely like my wife’s, “you’re acting like a girl.”
We stood there, but not too close, as awkwardly as two guys who have to sit without a seat between them at the movie theater.
“If you put on ChapStick before you eat Buffalo wings,” I said, “your lips won’t burn.”
My buddy thought about it a second, then nodded.
“I’ll try that,” he said.
Yeah, I’d given another guy a helpful hint, but it was about something manly like Buffalo wings. I think I would have been safe if I would have said something about fixing the wings, too, but I didn’t want to push it.
Then we started talking about cars and cheerleaders and everything was right with the universe.
Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt
Jason's book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri's Most Spirited Spots,” is coming in May. FREE SHIPPING when you order online at: https://tsup.truman.edu/store/ViewBook.aspx?Book=849. Visit Jason’s Web site, www.jasonoffutt.com, for his other books.