Big Billy – Signs yer gettin’ old

It’s awful gettin’ old, eh? And I’m not even talkin’ put-me-in-the-home old, I just mean the regular kind of old that sneaks up on ya. Seems like there’s been a lot more of it lately.

A couple of weeks ago there, Minnie did that usual thing where we’re out doin’ Big BIllysomethin’ else and she says right casual we should stop at the grocery store – just for milk and bread, she says. So I put up my usual fight, but really, I had to go to the bathroom so bad my back teeth were floatin’, so stoppin’ somewhere didn’t seem like that bad an idea.

Sign #1 – when ya start gettin’ older, you’re goin’ for a leak every thirty seconds. Minnie says that’s a sure sign my blood sugar’s out of whack and I should get checked for diabetes again and blah, blah, blah. I say to hell with that – take a leak whenever ya want and keep the cookies comin’.

So anyways, we go into the store and she gets a cart, even though she swore up and down she was only gettin’ a few things.

Where in the hell are ya goin’ with a cart? I said.

I need somewheres to put my purse, she says. Which is true, because Minnie’s purse is bigger than most suitcases.

Sign #2 – women’s purses get bigger and bigger the older they get. This just makes sense, I guess, since they just keep puttin’ stuff in there as the years go by. Minnie says she’ll cut my hand off if I even open her purse, so it’s a complete mystery to me what she got in there. One time I needed glue for somethin’ and she just opens her purse and hauls out a thing of crazy glue, like she keeps it in there all the time. Another time we were at a bonfire at Cyril and Joan’s and she just hauls out a bottle opener. Here’s a test – if you’re a middle-aged woman and your purse is bigger than your head, I betchya ten bucks you got at least one coupon in there for a store that closed at least ten years ago. Women, eh?

Anyways, off she goes in her direction and off I go to the bathroom. Oh sweet merciful god, is there anything better than finally gettin’ to go when ya gotta go really bad?

I find Minnie down the chip aisle and she got a bag of delicious thick-cut rippled chips in one hand and a bag of some kind of puffed, baked imitation chip nonsense in the other. We should try these, she says – they got way less sodium.

Sign #3 – if you’re at a point in your marriage where ya talk about sodium more than sex – yis’re old. So help me, if Minnie don’t bring up sodium two or three times a day I’ll eat my hat. She seen on one of them doctor talk shows about how too much sodium isn’t good for your heart. So her thing now is, if I’m sittin’ down watchin’ a ball game, eatin’ a big bag of chips, she’ll lean over and twist the bag in my hand so she can see that white square with all the food information on it, and then she’ll breathe in like somebody just stabbed her all of a sudden and she’ll say T-t-t-t-t-t, cluckin’ her tongue and shakin’ her head and then she’ll say to herself – “The. Sodium. In. Them. Things.” Followed by another round of T-t-t-t-t.

I settle the debate between the usual chips and the bag of puffed god-knows-what by sayin’ – Oh, lemme see? And put the chips in the cart and throw the other things back on the shelf.

Anyways, this “stop for a few things” at the grocery store turns into a long, slow inspection of every jar and bottle and box on every shelf and rack and display, until finally a good half-hour and half a cart full of groceries later. Minnie finally had enough of my complainin’ and we start toward the checkout.

By this point, I just wanna get out of there, so I start reachin’ in and grabbin’ whatever I can get my mitts on and pilin’ it on the belt.

What’re ya doin’?? Minnie said to me, with the same kind of shock and outrage ya might get f she just caught me puttin’ a kitten in a microwave. Put this stuff together with that stuff so it all gets bagged right.

Sign #4 – Ya know you’re gettin’ old when you and your wife fight over somethin’ like how to put the stuff on the belt at the checkout at the grocery store. Old couples can fight about anything.

Minnie starts puttin’ the cans with the other cans, and the two bottles of pop together and everything else.

Do ya think we’ll ever get out of this store? I said to her. Or should we send the kids to live with someone else? Ma and Da live here now, kids!

Needless to say, I get the silent treatment for the whole time we’re gettin’ rung through.

Then we wheel the cart outside and the two of us stand there and kind of shuffle in one direction and then the other.

Sign #5 – This is the one thing it’s impossible to deny is a sign you’re gettin’ old. Ya can never remember where ya park in a parkin’ lot.

I pretended to tie my shoelace to see which way Minnie would go. Minnie pretended to stuff her change purse into her purse. We wandered around 10 full minutes before we found the truck.

Neither of us said anything until we got home. We put the bags on the kitchen floor. Minnie opened the first one, then cursed and banged her fist on the counter.

I forgot the milk and bread, she said.

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