A slice of my life

By Steve Galea

In my short career as an old man, I have pretty well mastered the standard repertoire of old man skills. I can drive for miles with my right hand turn signal on. I have no fear of tucking in a shirt. And I wouldn’t ask for directions if I was in a mystical labyrinth with a minotaur. In fact, I’d probably give the minotaur a piece of my mind, if he tried to pull anything fast on me. 

But, the other day, I think I upped my game and rose to a whole other level.

It happened in the grocery store – as many old man firsts do. 

Jenn said we needed potatoes and some gravy mix for a venison roast I was cooking up, so I decided that an excursion into the outside world might be just what the doctor ordered. 

After all, there’s nothing like a grocery store to test an old fellow’s blood pressure.

Also, these days, a trip to the grocery store provides plenty of opportunity to practice uttering old man observations aloud such as, “I guess, I’m going to have to take out a loan to buy this broccoli” or “This steak cost as much as my first car.”

The grocery store is also a place where people flock, presumably to hear stories of the good old days and the wisdom earned in the days when hats were pointed forward and people blushed when someone told them their underpants were showing.

So anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, taking it up another level.

I had just finished paying a princely fee for a bag of spuds and gravy mix when I stepped out towards the sliding doors – which with all this AI technology – I no longer trust. 

At the same time, a young lady at the next cash register finished paying and when she stepped out, we almost collided. And she politely apologized, though there was no reason to.

That’s when it happened. 

I said the most old man thing I have said to date. 

“I guess I almost got a pie in the face huh?” I said, and then we both laughed. Me, because my generation was programmed to find a pie in the face funny. She, because her parents taught her to respect her elders, no matter how strange.

Immediately after that though, I looked down and noted that though I thought she was carrying a pie, she was not. In fact, I think she was carrying a flat Styrofoam container of meat. And she looked down and, I believe, observed that I was carrying potatoes and gravy mix. 

Suddenly and simultaneously, we both realized that there was no pie in the equation. So nothing I said made any sense at all.

Things immediately got awkward.

I’m guessing she was thinking, “I’m just going to leave quickly and not embarrass the old fellow by pointing out the obvious. He’s obviously got enough issues to deal with.”

On the other hand, my immediate thought was to chase her into the parking lot and explain that I thought she was carrying a pie – hence the hilarious comment.

Fortunately, Jenn has taught me that sometimes it is best to ignore your immediate thought, and just accept the loss.  That way you don’t make a bigger deal out of things than you need to.

In this case, I think that was wise. 

Why is this next level?

Well, I’m guessing this is how you become known as a crusty old man.