By Dom Cioffi
There is a small plaza exactly one mile from my home. It has a grocery store, a pizza joint, a donut shop, a dry cleaner, and a few other typical neighborhood establishments. It’s a very convenient location, not just for me, but for the hundreds of other people who live around the same area.
I end up at the grocery store quite often because, many years ago, I made an arrangement with my wife that if I did the food shopping, she would make the meals. Normally, it’s a great deal, but more often than I’d like, she forgets to tell me about a specific ingredient and I end up back at the store after just being there.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, my wife decided to do some Saturday afternoon cooking. It was a dreary weekend so I decided I would sit in front of the fire to watch golf and play my guitar (and if the mood hit me, I might even take an extended nap).
Before I settled in, my wife asked if I’d run to the store to pick up some items for her day of cooking. I happily agreed and waited for her to prepare a list. Before I leave on one of these excursions, I always make sure to pressure her to think about what she’ll need, knowing full well if I don’t, I could end up making a return trip.
She assured me that the list was accurate so I grabbed my cell phone and jumped in my truck to leave.
When I walked into the store, two elderly men were sitting on a bench just inside. They both had coffees in their hands and smiles on their faces. I nodded as I walked by, thinking that they were probably waiting for their wives to finish shopping.
I then traversed the store while placing the appropriate items into my cart. When I was finished, I headed to the register, but not before glancing at my phone to see if my wife texted any last second requests (which, quite often, she is known to do).
The phone was clear so I finished checking out and then headed to my truck. As I left the store, the two old men both nodded and smiled again.
I no sooner got home and in the door when my wife hit me with, “You’re going to kill me.” I knew immediately that I was headed back to the store. She apologized profusely, saying she’d go herself, but I balked. A moment later I was in my truck headed back to the store.
Once again, the two old fellows smiled at me as I walked in. I figured they would have recognized me as the guy who was just there, but neither reacted in that way.
I quickly grabbed the item I needed and was checking out within a couple minutes. As I left, I once again passed the old men who nodded to me pleasantly.
When I returned home and walked in, my wife approached me with a concerned look, “You got my text, right?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I said with utter exasperation. I then turned and headed back out the door, angry at myself for not doing what I always tell myself to do.
On my third return visit to the store, I once again passed the old men. This time I felt sheepish given how many times I had walked passed them. I considered looking at my phone so I wouldn’t have to make eye contact, but by the time I thought of it, they were right in front of me.
I smirked as I went by, as if to acknowledge that I knew what an idiot I was. They seemed unfazed and just smiled back at me like all the other times.
After I checked out again, I decided to look at my phone as I walked out. I couldn’t bear one more interaction with the two old guys, even though they seemed oblivious to my angst. As I walked by, I stared at my phone with conviction, like I was reading something immensely important.
That’s when I heard a voice from the bench say with utter amusement, “He just bet me ten bucks you’d be back again.”
I stopped for moment, shook my head, and smiled abashedly, knowing full well that my wife would be making the next trip to the store.
This week’s film, “Stan & Ollie,” also features a pair of aging jokesters. In this case, however, the jokes came over decades by two of Hollywood’s most beloved comics.
“Stan & Ollie” stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the comedic duo, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The acting icons made dozens of films together during the first part of the 20th century. The two-man team garnered worldwide fame with their unique slapstick comedy, but behind the scenes, the struggles and pressures of fame wore each man down.
Check this one out if you are a fan of the pair or want a deeper examination of the depths of their creative bond.
A bittersweet “B” for “Stan & Ollie.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at email@example.com.