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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Old Bait and Shop

I was cruelly tricked by my wife this weekend. She knows how I feel about shopping. I don’t like shopping, I’m not good at shopping, and I get very exasperated and pouty if I’m forced into shopping.

You’d think she’d understand. She feels the same way about reading this nonsense. But do I strap her in the car and drive her out to the suburbs to pore over these pages?

Only rarely. And never on weekends.

So this ‘shopping’ thing just wasn’t fair, dammit.

She knew better than to try a headlong shop-assault on me. We’ve been married a long time, and we’ve immunized ourselves against each others’ deadliest weapons — like the ‘puppy-eyed pleading question’. Oh, sure, that move worked fifteen years ago. She’d wander over to the couch some Saturday morning, poke her little toe into the ground and shyly say:

Hey, um, honey… do you want to go to the mall with me today?

And I’d look up into those big emerald eyes with her eyebrows all scrunchy, and it’d be all over. Six hours later, I’d find myself slogging through some Ann Taylor outlet or Victoria’s Secret Slightly Irregular Panty Paradise, lugging six bags of swag with no end in sight. But over time as a husband, you learn some things. You adapt. You survive.

Rule number one: don’t look at the eyes when a shopping trip comes up. Medusa could turn a man into stone with a glance; wives somehow transform us into pack mules for an afternoon. Personally, I’d prefer being made of granite. Seems easier to sneak a nap on the couch that way.

“If that doesn’t work, I think nightmarish thoughts of overstuffed parking lots and chatty cashier jockeys and pear-shaped octogenarian ladies modeling thong bikinis outside the dressing rooms.”

She learned a while back that turning on the charm for a trip to the mall doesn’t cut it any more. If I think there’s even a chance of a shopping ‘invitation’ coming, I slap on a pair of dark shades, bury my face in a pillow and ‘LALALALALALALA!!!‘ until she’s safely out of eyeshot. If that doesn’t work, I think nightmarish thoughts of overstuffed parking lots and chatty cashier jockeys and pear-shaped octogenarian ladies modeling thong bikinis outside the dressing rooms. That usually steels my resolve — or makes me nauseous enough to get out of going.

If all else fails, I fake my own death. I once stopped breathing for a full twelve minutes, just to get out of a Black Friday ‘early bird’ sale at Target. True story.

So the missus has picked up some new tricks of her own — like the one she unleashed this weekend, while I was merrily lazing away a Saturday afternoon melding my ass into the couch cushions. She nonchalantly brushed by on her way to the kitchen, dropping this off as the walked past:

Y’know — we should really have a grill.

She let the words hang in the air for a bit while she poured herself a Diet Coke. I tried not to give in — I knew it was a trap of some kind — but dammit, she was right. We should have a grill. Our condo has a deck, and we just had it rebuilt in the fall. We had a grill back at our house — too old and grimy and possibly leaking explosive propane fumes to bring with us, or to operate legally in any modern First or Second World nation, but still. We had one.

And now, we don’t. But we should. Now that she brought it up, I was appalled for us. How dare we not grill delicious dead animals on our very own deck? The nerve of us people.

By the time she sashayed back through, sipping her soda, I was hooked. More than hooked, I was riled up and ready for action. This called for a trip to the closest available home supply concern, to right the injustice which even now threatened to tear our way of life asunder.

Yes, never you mind that I was only just reminded of this unforgivable travesty a few brief moments ago — or that the situation, vis a vis our shameful grilllessness has been unchanged for the better part of a year and a half. These rational and measured observations are no match for the righteous indignation now coursing through my veins. To the chariot, my good woman! We must away, to claim that high-BTU flame-cooking power which is rightfully ours!

In other words, I played right into her hands. If I’d swallowed the bait any harder, I’d be shitting fish hooks all week.

Many of you married — or as-good-as-married — men will already know what happened next. We hustled out to the nearest Home Depot to, read my lips now, “look for a grill”. Two hours later, I awoke from a daze to find us trudging back to the car — in a downpour, I might add — toting twenty-four individually-potted pansies of various shades of pink, forty pounds of topsoil, three sacks of mulch, lawn bags, heavy gloves, a small spade and something called a Garden Weasel. But no grill.

I think I’m beginning to see who this “Garden Weasel” actually is, if you reap what I’m sowing.

So what did we get out of the deal? Well, we got wet. A lot wet. And we got some new flowers for around the deck in back that I’m assured are just lovely specimens. And we got a bunch of lawn supplies, the better to clutter the remaining eight square inches of our storage area not yet crammed full of crap. And I, personally, got hoodwinked, like a lamb led to slaughter.

But not a lamb led to grilling, because that would require a grill. Which I don’t have. And may never have now, because when my wife brings it up next time, I’m going to assume it’s just a ruse to drag me off to some shoe sale expo or Pantyliners ‘R’ Us, and I’m going to say, “no, thanks”. No thanks, no grill, no wet pansy flowers, and no separating ass from couch until at least Monday morning. Maybe later. Depends on what’s on TV.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want that grill. But the gauntlet’s been thrown. Let’s “look for a grill” no longer means the thing that I think it means. It evidently means getting drenched along with a bunch of green-thumbed goobers who didn’t know enough to stay the hell in the house on a lazy weekend afternoon.

Or they fell into the same trap I did. The call of the flame is powerful, indeed. But the ruse of the wife? Diabolical.

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