A cousin had gained a few pounds since our last family reunion in Hogan Holler. My dad, who was from a culture and generation that had no hesitation saying what came to mind, embraced her. “Lord, Honey,” he said. “What’re they feeding you down in South Carolina? You’ve spread out like a big Sunday dinner!”
I later apologized for Dad’s insensitive remark. She laughed it off and said she wasn’t offended. But I’m sure, deep inside, the comment had to sting. (At the next reunion, she was back to her former slender self.)
I thought of this incident recently when I had my own Spread-Out-Like-a-Big-Sunday-Dinner experience.
I needed trousers (hereafter referred to as britches) to wear for a chore that would require below-the-waist contact with Mother Earth. Rummaging in the closet, I found khakis that had received no human contact in years. As folks back home would say, I’d “fleshed out” since last wearing them.
After struggling into them, I decided they fit my need. But before crawling under the porch, I needed to return a library book and get some things, including bug spray, at the grocery store.
After delivering the book, I returned to my vehicle for the trip to Ingles. Now, Ole Huldy is an SUV with high ground clearance. To deposit oneself into the driver’s seat is not unlike mounting a horse. As I wiggled my keister into the saddle . . . uh-oh! Could it be? After a cursory and discreet inspection, the answer was . . . Yes! I had split my britches.
I was faced with a decision, and I started arguing with myself. “No sensible person would go into a busy supermarket wearing split britches.” Ah, nobody’ll notice.
“I should go home and change.” I need that bug spray.
“Maybe my undershorts’ll blend in. What color are they?” Green? Blue? Whites would really show, but I don’t have any of those. “I don’t think I’m wearing my reds.”
The argument continued into the Ingles parking lot. DO won the battle over DON’T, so I headed inside the store.
“My list is short, three things. It won’t take long.”
I grabbed a buggy and, with my legs and cheeks as close together as possible, headed toward the milk coolers at the back of the store.
There’s a law that goes into effect when I’m shopping. No matter what time of day or night, or the number of people in the store, at least one indecisive shopper will be inspecting the very item I’m looking for. In this case, buttermilk.
The lady looked and looked, read and reread labels, then closed the door, changed her mind, reopened the door, put a carton in her buggy, changed her mind again, put it back, got a different brand.
All this time, I’m standing like a palace guard, my back to the milk cooler. She FINALLY rolled her buggy away and I got my buttermilk.
I was fortunate to grab the bug spray quickly and safely head in search of my last item. Then I found the oatmeal . . . on the very bottom shelf!
Due to a sciatic nerve problem, reaching to the bottom shelf is a challenge under the best circumstances. I waited an eternity and a half and, at last, the coast was clear. Hanging onto the buggy with one hand and grimacing with considerable pain, I wrestled old Quaker from the bottom shelf and into my buggy.
To provide myself some rear cover, I pulled my buggy through the checkout line, made it to my car, and headed home. I had the feeling a bank robber must have after making his getaway.
After spraying under the porch, I told my wife about my latest adventure. She almost split HER britches laughing.
And my shorts? As red as Rudolph’s nose.
After 57 years in the radio industry, Dave Hogan is enjoying his retirement in North Carolina. He’d love for you to say ‘howdy’ to him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.