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80 Years Ago

Archives 03-14-2001

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com



Down with a cold last week, Pinchy sent me to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Although I didn't say so at the time, I knew sending a monkey in my place would have been a better idea.

"Here's a list," Pinchy said. "Don't lose it and don't be wandering around the grocery store, talking to strangers."

Grabbing the list, I said, "I'm not 8 years-old."

"Put your slinky away before you leave," Pinchy said. "I get that thing wrapped around my ankles again, it's history."

Picking up my slinky, I tossed it into my closet next to my roller skates and my Harry Potter comic books. I was glad when Harry started appearing in comic books. Makes reading about his adventures quicker. Plus I can just look at the pictures if I want to skip the words.

"Might be a lot of muggles in the grocery store," I said. "This could get dangerous."

"Please, Bob," Pinchy said, "go to the store and come straight back. I need those things on the list."

"What list?" I said.

Pinchy blew her nose. I thought about geese flying south for the winter. "You haven't lost it already, have you?" she said.

"Just kidding," I said. "I have the list."

But where? I didn't know. No problem, if I couldn't find it, I'd just improvise when I got to the store. Nothing wrong with that. Life is mostly improvisation anyway. Handling what comes unexpectedly after spending sleepless hours figuring out how to handle things that never happen.

Pinchy handed me a fifty. "That should cover it," she said. "I'm never letting you loose with a checkbook again."

"Cover it," I said. "Of course it will cover it. You know how many carts of groceries I can get for fifty bucks?"

Pinchy blew her nose again. I thought about fog horns on a misty Atlantic night. "When was the last time you bought groceries?" she asked.

"Let me see," I said, "July, no October, 1967."

"Here," Pinchy said, "take this twenty too. You're in for a surprise."

Wow, I thought, seventy bucks. With the money left over, I'll get me a couple of those dollar yo-yos and a bunch of those one-cent baseball cards. Load up on nickel candy bars and penny bubblegum too.

Pinchy blew her nose again. I thought of elephants summoning their mates. "Bye, Pinchy," I said. "Don't worry, I'll be back faster than you can say Sandy Koufax."

"Who?" she said.

"Sandy Koufax," I said. "He won the Cy Young award three times."

"Who's Cy Young?" Pinchy said.

"Never mind," I said "Bye."

At the end of the driveway, I had to make a decision. Veer to the right and drive the shortest route to the main road into town or make a sharp left and stick to the winding, narrow back roads until I reached the main road after passing a field of cows, all the same color, all the same size. Definitely some cloning going on in the bovine industry.

Figuring that looking at clones more than once would be redundant, I chose the most direct route. When I reached the highway, I turned and headed toward Livingston.

I shifted into fifth and continued to gain speed until rolling up behind a truck load of pigs, obviously on their way to becoming pork chops and bacon. By the look on their faces, they were enjoying the ride.

How much like humans, I thought. On the road to dying without a thought or a concern about what's at the end. Maybe that's good. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's some of each. But who am I to judge?

I swung off the road into the grocery store parking lot. The pigs kept going.

I hadn't been in the store a minute before seeing at least 25 people I knew. "Hey. Hello. How you doin'? How you been? Good to see you. Come visit sometime. Have a nice day. You too."

That's one of the many things I love about Tennessee, friendly people with a strong sense of community.

I spent two months in Chicago without having one of my "How you doin's?" returned. If I cross the Mason-Dixon line again, I'll have to be dragged across, while yelling and fighting. If Heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, it ain't Heaven.

Unable to find Pinchy's list, I started throwing the necessities into the cart. Potato chips, peach ice cream, talcum powder, beenie-weenies, pork rinds, Oreos, Frosted Flakes, taco shells, charcoal, olives, a rawhide bone for Woolly, the list went on and on.

When the cart was full I pushed it toward a checkout line. After totaling everything, the cashier said, "$269.87."

"That can't be," I said. "The last I time I was at a grocery store I bought twice this much for less than fifty bucks." The cashier said, "$269.87."

"Take back $200 worth of this stuff," I said. "At least that will leave me a dime to buy a bottle of Tab from the coke machine."

The lady behind me laughed. "Where have you been for the last 30 years," she said, "in outer space?"

"Yes," I said, "I'm an astronaut. I've just returned from a deep-space probe. There is life on Uranus, but not as we know it."

When I got home, Pinchy said, "Congratulations, you didn't buy a single thing on the list. A monkey could have done better."

"That's true," I said. "But monkeys can't drive, not legally."

Pinchy blew her nose. I thought of Cheryl, a tuba player I knew in high school.




Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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