First, a little background. There is a married couple who are friends of ours. Due to his employment, the husband has to travel occasionally. They own a rubber duck. The wife takes an incredible amount of pleasure in secreting the duck in the husband's luggage, without his knowledge. Thus, the rubber duck shows up at the destination, much to the surprise of the husband. When he calls home and identifies himself, she gleefully yells "Quack quack!" into the phone. It's sort of dumb, but on the other hand, it's just the sort of game that's likely to appeal to the small child in me.
I have sort of adapted this game for Ann and me. We do the grocery shopping together. Since I'm bigger, I get to push the cart. She gets to pick out all of the food. Anyway, one day I managed to smuggle a candy bar into the cart, and hid it under the bread before she noticed. As we were checking out and the checker rang up the candy bar, Ann, who can be very loud when she wants to, said "HEY!! I didn't put that in there!! How'd that get in...??" and she looked dead at me. Very suspiciously, I might add. I looked her straight in the eye and said "Quack quack."
She got that Uh-oh-he's-really-gone-this-time look on her face, and said "Beg pardon?"
Well, the line behind us was starting to get unruly, and the checker was just beginning to look panicked, and it was only a candy bar, so we finished checking out. When we got out to the car, I dug my candy bar out of the sack and explained to Ann that we had been playing a game. It was my job to try to sneak something into the cart, and it was her job to try to catch me.
She wasn't too thrilled with the new game, but I guess she figured that if she didn't play, we'd end up with a veritable Fort Knox of goodies at home.
As time went on, the game became more elaborate. There were two ways for me to win. The first was to manage to get to the checkout stand before Ann spotted my booty. The second, and by far the best, was to get all of the way home before she caught me. As we became more adept at the game, it became harder and harder to sneak something past ol' eagle eye, but somehow I usually managed. The game even added a new noun to the language.
"What are you eating?"
"Can I have a bite?"
Sometimes, I'd go to the store and never even attempt to smuggle out any goodies, and other times I'd fill the basket. Sometimes Ann was a paragon of attentiveness and other times I could have walked out with the store.
Now we come to the reason for my telling you all of this.
The last time we were at the store, I was cruising down the aisle, and as I was passing in front of a rack of those little pies - you know, those little half-moon fruit pies that have no fruit - the wheels on the cart locked up, and we came to a screeching halt.
"I'm going' to get one of these apple pies. What kind do you want?"
"They're not good for you. C'mon."
"You want apple, or cherry, or chocolate...?"
"The only kind I like is peach."
"They don't have peach."
"Then I don't want any."
"You could have apple, like me."
"No, I really don't want one. Let's go."
We left. The next day, as I was going about my business, I heard this little far-away voice, just barely audible, saying "Eat me, eat me."
It was my pie. I couldn't find my pie. I searched everywhere, but I couldn't find my pie. Finally, I called Ann at work.
"Honey, what did you do with my pie? I can't find it."
"C'mon, this is a very serious matter. Where's my apple pie?"
"You little creep, did you hide my pie?"
"Well, not exactly."
"What do you mean, not exactly?"
"I didn't hide it. It's right out in plain sight."
"Well? Where is it?"
"It's at the store."
"It's at the store."
"If you can sneak things into the cart, I can sneak them out."
"When you weren't looking, I sneaked it back onto the rack."
"Bye now. I've got to go."
Now I ask you, and please think very carefully before you answer: is that a sportsmanlike way to play the game?
Bill Harvey is a prolific writer who also doubles as a machinist, hypnotherapist, advertising salesman, and typewriter repairman.
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