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 grocery store on my way home,” I told her.
That was simple enough, right? A guy saying ‘I’m going to the store’ usually means ‘I’m out of beer.’ Everyone knows that.
“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 haven’t learned that rule yet.
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.” To a wife it’s an invitation.
“We need M&Ms, raisins, pretzels and almond bark,” she said. “Got that?”
“Yeah, yeah, honey,” I bumbled. “I got it.”
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. But I don’t like to grocery shop – it’s work.
The cart thumped as I wheeled it through the store. 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.
I pointed the cart down the aisle labeled “baking” and went in. Like most guys, I don’t bake; I cook. Baking is as alien to me as a triffid, that’s why 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.
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 do I …
“You look lost,” a female voice said. I turned toward a grandmotherly woman who’d stopped beside me and 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. My wife wanted the brown kind.
Ladies, there’s a simple solution to this problem – don’t ask your husband to do anything. Oh, sure, an equally simple solution might be to give him a more detailed list, but that’s too much like 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.
Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt
Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or tsup.truman.edu. Visit Jason’s Web site, www.jasonoffutt.com, for his other books.