Saturday, July 4, 2015

On the Anniversary of Our Nation's Freedom, An Old Val's Fancy Lightly Turns to Thoughts of Alcohol

July 4th, a time for patriotic celebrations across this great land!

Or, here at Thevictorians...a time for grilling. No big party. No red, white, and blue foods or drinks. Just a couple of steaks on the bargain gas grill that Hick picked up at the auction, and a six-pack of Michelob Ultra. FOR HICK! Not that he's going to drink the whole thing. He imbibes in moderation. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Best to let the story unfold slowly. Make room for your Rip Van Winkle beard.

Thursday I dashed into the gas station chicken store for a 44 oz. Diet Coke. I don't have one every day. But this one I think I deserved, what with dealing long-distance with my sister the ex-mayor's wife over our impending sale of Mom's house, a process which required four days to get her signature over the airwaves. I decided to throw in some slaw from the chicken kitchen, because we were having shrimp for supper. Yes. The gas station chicken store sells slaw.

I swear, that new chicken girl must have been planting the cabbage and waiting for it to grow. How long does it take to scoop a pint of slaw? So there I stood, hoping nobody currently working would associate me with that demented Madam who ran in there last summer and took pictures of the establishment without making a purchase. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on the conversation between the two clerks and the current customer.

That customer looked very familiar. A small, extremely-tanned, shoulder-length white-haired lady. I knew I'd seen her somewhere around town.

"I could not believe it! She was ringing me up, and when she got to my beer, she said, 'I'll need to see your ID.' I said, 'Are you kidding me?' And she said, 'No. I'll have to see your ID, or I can't sell it to you.' I told her I was obviously old enough to buy alcohol, but she said, 'That's our policy. I can't sell it to you without seeing your ID.'"

"Ha, ha. Did she know you work at Walmart?"

"She does now. Because I told her, 'Listen, honey, I am the one who trains the trainees. You have to learn right, but you have to use common sense.'"

"I guess maybe that's Walmart's policy for the holiday weekend."

"It's our policy all the time. I'm supposed to follow it, too. But when somebody is obviously in their forties or fifties, I don't even bother. I just punch in a date for their DOB that I know will be old enough. There's no need to slow things down and make them mad."

"The Dollar Store cards EVERYONE! For tobacco. They don't care how old you look."

"Well, I'm going to have a talk with the checkers when I go back to work."

So, I took that all in. It did seem ridiculous to tell her she couldn't get her beer without her ID, when she works there and everything. But maybe the new girl was afraid of losing her job, in case it was a secret shopper or something.

Today The Pony and I headed off to Walmart to pick up a few things before he leaves tomorrow for an engineering camp. I asked Hick if he needed anything. Nope. Except, as we were going out the door, he said, "Bring me some beer. A six pack. Michelob Ultra."

Normally, I am not in the habit of buying Hick's beer. For one thing, he rarely drinks it. Every now and then with pizza. Maybe once every couple of months. And he has a cash allowance for that. No need for me to dip into my household budget. But the main reason he and I understand that I don't buy his beer is because...I'm a small-town celebrity. Everybody knows my name, and it ain't Norm. Backroads is full of tongue-waggers who would like nothing more than to dwell on how Mrs. Thevictorian up at the schoolhouse likes her Michelob Ultra. I might as well be Widow Jones not keeping her window shades all pulled completely down, or be caught exhaling Shirley Thompson's breath.

The Pony heaved a sigh. I hollered over my shoulder, "Really? You want ME to push your beer through Walmart in my cart?" Hick got all snotty and told me to forget it, but of course I could not. Seriously. He had already been to town for several hours this morning. Could he not buy his own beer? He knew we were grilling. I implored The Pony, "Can you grab it for me?"

"Um. No. I'm pretty sure that's not allowed. I am not 21."

"You're not BUYING it! Only bringing it to the cart."

"I don't think I can."

"C'mon. It's all the way on the BACK WALL. I was only going as far as...the produce section. We don't have much on our list."

"I'd rather not. Somebody will stop me."

"Okay. I'll go all the way back there and get it, and put it in my cart, and push it, the ONLY item in my cart, back up to the produce section while you're over in the pharmacy getting toothpaste."

"Okay. I can meet you on the soda aisle with the toothpaste and the paper plates and the Lysol. Then you'll have more in your cart."


So off we went. I waited and waited on the soda aisle. I had to keep moving, because no matter where I waited, I was in somebody's way. I thought I saw people frowning disapprovingly. I can imagine their blog posts today: 'And there was this woman in the way with only a six-pack of Michelob Ultra in her cart. I don't know what she was waiting for there on the soda aisle.'

We got to the front and I gave The Pony his two dollars for gaming. He has given up the car game lately in favor of one with a fake gun that you shoot at the screen. Playing the car game hasn't made him a driver, so I figure playing the gun game won't make him a shooter. I got in my regular line. It was a new checker I hadn't seen.

OH NO! What if she was the new checker? I had Michelob Ultra in my cart! I looked around to see if there was a sign that said this cashier could not ring up alcohol. Nope. Still. She might be that stickler! All I brought in was my debit card. No ID. Oh, dear. I put the Michelob Ultra on the conveyor. For all to see as they walked by. I figured if Checker wanted my ID, I'd tell her I was a good 30 years past the age of imbibement, and ask for a manager. Or I could holler over to The Pony, "HEY! Go get my purse out of the car!" I could imagine him squinting, and holding his hands palm-up, and mouthing 'WHAT?' as I made a spectacle of myself. I wanted to set that Michelob Ultra down on the floor and leave it. But then I'd have to face a sober Hick.

How do I get myself into these situations?

The girl rang up my items. She made small talk. When she punched in the Michelob Ultra, I heard her register make an odd beep. I held my breath. Tried not to look guilty. Stopped short of humming. Because something like "What do you do with a drunken sailor?" would probably have vibrated from my between my lips.

WHEW! Checker tapped in something and continued. That was a close call.

I can't wait to see who throws this in my face months from now. In the parking lot, as I was putting my/Hick's Michelob Ultra in T-Hoe's rear, I heard, "HEY! VAL! Did you buy enough for me?" It was my cousin, the one who's buying Mom's house. And earlier today, my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel called me to chat, and informed me that she had been ten cars behind me the other day when I turned onto the county road.

Forget that the hills have eyes. Backroads had binoculars.


  1. Wait, Hick doesn't drink Millard High Life?

  2. Val--Yes, teachers have to worry about what's in their cart. Who knows who they'll see while they're in the store.

    Lots of booze... hair dye... mustache remover... they're all landmines.

    And no, I'm not demented. My parents had me tested.

  3. Love that last line. had a nosy neighbor once who ended up in a trunk, bludgeoned to death. See nothing, hear nothing.

  4. joeh,
    No. We were raised differently.

    Sounds like you were a little testee (heh, heh, I said testee) for products like booze, hair dye, and mustache remover...and ellipses.

    Way to bring me down! This is a comedy zone here. Did you not see the yellow-and-black-striped sawhorses demarcating my work space? This is where heavy yucks are lifted by a crane an dropped so they smash into lighter yucks. You are delivering the wrong kind of yucks on my loading dock!

    I am refusing delivery of your trunk, and sending it back from whence it came. Along with a headless body in a septic tank that was found on my neighbor's property. Although not his body, and he wasn't nosy. Indeed, I saw and heard nothing.

  5. The last time a was carded I was buying glue at a convenience store to help our twelve year old son build a model airplane. They must ave thought I was gonna snort it.

    1. I hope you don't try to buy Sudafed. It's all the rage around here for the meth-making crowd. My mom got carded for it years ago when she went to pick some up for my niece's allergies. She was incensed. It was worse than her encounter with those slaw-gyppers.