Decameron Tale #8

DECAMERON TALES #8     June 14, 2020

I hate to drive in Boston.  An incomprehensible spaghetti bowl of one-way streets.  And now my market is the same.  The store’s presumption is that one starts in Produce.  With greater culinary insight, I start at the opposite end in Ice Cream.  And therein lies this tale.

Cruising down the frozen food aisle, I came face to face with a diminutive elderly gent scarcely five feet tall.  I doubt that he weighed 80 pounds!  He wagged his finger at me and, in a surprisingly commanding voice, informed me that the aisles were one way and I was going the wrong way.  

While amused by his sass, I was particularly struck by his head.  It was entirely and completely bald with not a single wisp of hair.  Irregular reddish-brown spots covered his scalp.  It looked like a gigantic egg!  Nay, it was an egg.  An ovum maximum.  It was a huge House Sparrow egg.  I have never been able to see one in such detail.  I was enchanted!!

When he finished his finger-wagging scolding, I responded that I’d been going the wrong way most of my life and saw little advantage in changing a winning path.

We passed one another again in a similar manner with one of us going against the pointy end of the arrow.  I nodded in acknowledgment and snapped one of my cheek straps.  I felt that this served in lieu of the traditional doffing of the hat.  Contrary to what some of my kinswomen might think, this was not a passive-aggressive act but a gracious gesture learned at the knee of Dad.  

Our last encounter was in the aisle before Produce.  A very wide space with chips on one side and beer on the other, separated by various displays of delectable salt and grease.  It was nearly four aisles wide.  Suddenly we were side by side going in the same direction!  It was a coming together, a veritable meeting of the minds.  He quickened his pace and took the lead.  The race was on.  He was a nimble competitor.  That cane hung over the front of his cart was a mere affectation, a clever ploy providing him with a winning “nose”.  We were side by side at the Pringles and neck and neck at the Cheetos.  When we made the turn at the Doritos, he took the lead.  I saw my chance and took a short cut across the aisle using a small opening behind the Slim Jim display.  Victory was mine and I retrieved my prize:  Ballantine Ale.  Remember the three interlocking rings of the logo.  Don’t be misled by cheap imitations.  My opponent also opened the beer case.  

If you look hard enough, you can find something to like in most people.  It depends on how deep you want to dig. ~ Peter J. O’Brien, Sr.

In the magnanimous glow of victory, I allowed that perhaps Dad was right.  There’s a little bit of good in everyone.  That’s not precisely what the Aesop of Second Hill said, however.  If memory serves, what he actually said is that if you look hard enough, you can find something to like in most people.  It depends on how deep you want to dig.  He was a master of the punch line.  

I suspect that the crafty old Cock Sparrow is even now in training for a rematch.

I would like to thank my grandniece, Chelsea.  Her avian watercolor brightening our kitchen brought back the memory of this episode.


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