'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
MAJOR FAUX PAS IN LE MART DU WAL
Embarrassment is incredibly painful. I wonder how expensive it will be to move to Montana and have plastic surgeons give me a whole new identity. After my recent blunder, that’s the only viable option.
It started out so innocently. On a Saturday morning my daughter and I went to a local department store to buy a replacement showerhead. The store was very crowded. The checkout lines were huge. The place was a bustling beehive of frenetic activity. And that’s when, out of shear frustration, I did the unthinkable. I still can’t believe I did it, but at that moment, not thinking clearly, I actually—
Hey, wait a minute. You’re anticipating what I’m about to say, aren’t you? You think I’m going to admit that I shoplifted the showerhead because I didn’t want to wait in line, got caught red-handed sneaking out of the store, and had to endure the shame of being arrested and see my name in the police blotter section of the newspaper, aren’t you? Ha! I only wish that were the real story.
What actually happened is far more embarrassing. Out of frustration, I walked up to a store employee and said, “Excuse me, ma’am. Where can I find the replacement showerheads?”
The startled woman stared at me in disbelief. My daughter grabbed my arm and said in a nervous whispered, “Dad! What are you doing?”
I turned toward my daughter and said, “What? What do you mean?”
“You’ve never asked for directions—ever!” she exclaimed. “What if someone sees me?”
In the meantime, the befuddled store employee slowly backed away. When she caught sight of a fellow employee, she quickly waved her over, and said, “Shirley! What am I suppose to do? A customer asked me for the location of an item.”
“Well, Marge,” the other employee laughed, “Just tell the customer where she can find it, of course.”
“You don’t understand,” Marge said as Shirley came into view. “The customer is, is… the customer is a man!”
Shirley stopped in her tracks. The two employees stood frozen like a pair of blue smock-clad statues. Finally, Shirley spoke. “They, uh, they never prepared us for this at the training seminars. I’ve never had a, a man ask for help before.”
By now a crowd had gathered, not unlike curious rubberneckers tying to get a glimpse of a terrible car wreck. My daughter started to weep and bolted from my side. The last I saw of her she was approaching total strangers and asking if they would be interested in adopting her.
I noticed that some of the onlookers were men. Their faces were twisted with looks of pure disgust and loathing. I heard one mutter, “What a loser. Jerks like him give all men a bad name.” Another guy added, “Yeah, we come here knowing we’ll have to wander the aisles for two or three hours before we find what we want. Who does he think he is, anyway?”
I tried to defend myself. “But I did wander around, for over half-an-hour. I just want a stupid showerhead.”
In reply, jeers and shouts rose up from the crowd. They pressed in closer to me, approaching from all sides. I think I saw some pitchforks and torches.
Just then a tall white-haired security guard waded through the crowd. “OK, break it up!” he shouted. “Nothing to see here! Move along!” As the mob dispersed, the guard said, “What’s the problem?”
Shirley spoke up. “He, he asked Marge for help finding an item.”
The guard’s shoulders slumped. He looked at me and shook his head slowly. “You’d think working Homicide for 30 years would prepare a guy for anything…” his voice trailed off. He grabbed my arm and said, “C’mon, I’ll escort you to your car for your own safety.”
As I drove home, I wondered which would annoy my wife more, the fact that I never found a replacement showerhead, our impending move to Montana.
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