Monday, May 05, 2008
Now is the winter of our discontent - Shakespeare, from Richard III.
Not for me. For one thing, it's not Winter. Most important, I have rarely had as contented a weekend as I just did. It came at the price of the contentment of many other people, but none of that discontent was brought about by my hand, so no guilt.
I usually do the grocery shopping on Saturday mornings. MY WIFE usually sleeps in.
Some of my male readers just exclaimed "Whipped!" Wrong, sitcom-audience-reaction breath. MY WIFE works on Saturdays. She goes out for a 10-hour shift, bringing home the the bacon (although not literally) so that I can sit around all day Saturday, eating cookies and watching sports. Have you got it better? I didn't think so.
Anyway, she had this Saturday off. We decided that we'd go shopping together. Mostly, this was because I had steadfastly refused to bring plastic bottles back to the supermarket to be recycled and cashed in for a nickel each.
It's not that I have anything against getting a pocketful of nickels. It's just... I don't know. I didn't feel like lugging all those bottles and feeding them into the recycling machines. Call me whatever the opposite of green is. I just don't have a strong sense of urgency concerning that sort of stuff. I know it probably does some good, but if I was truly concerned about the environment, I would have quit smoking years ago. I figure I'm still doing that, so why not bury a few plastic bottles in a landfill as well.
(Is there any logic whatsoever in that last sentence? No, I didn't find any either. Oh, well. I'd come up with a better rationalization, but that would entail me sitting here at the computer and wasting electricity while I try. You wouldn't want me to do that, would you? I think if you just absolve me from guilt and leave it at that, the world be better off on balance.)
We loaded the trunk of the car with bottles and off we went.
There are two entrances to the Stop & Shop in Watertown. The one I usually enter through isn’t the one where they have the bottle returns. So, I pulled the car up in front of that entrance, instead of my usual one, and popped the trunk. MY WIFE took the bottles inside to get her nickels while I waited.
She came out after five minutes, got in the car, and said, “You silly boy! You’ve been sitting here the whole time with the engine running? That defeats the whole purpose! You burned more gas than we got back for the bottles – AND you burned more gas than we saved the environment by returning the bottles!”
Well, I could have told her that would be the outcome, if I ever gave any thought to the future. I drove the car to a parking spot near the other entrance, and we went in.
It's always an interesting experience bringing MY WIFE shopping. She rarely goes into a supermarket, so it's a big new world for her to marvel at and comment upon. She spent the first five minutes looking at a display of Red Sox-themed pastry; wondering aloud why there were peanuts alongside emblazoned with a Yankees logo; and then bemoaning the fact that there were individual slices of cake available that had, during the course of packaging, had the smiley faces upon them cut in half. She then wandered over to a display of bagged spinach, saw it was on sale, and removed the bottom bag from the display, causing the other six bags on top of that one to come tumbling down into the produce aisle. I stood there laughing while she tried desperately to field them all before they hit the floor.
As we were replacing the bags, she said, "Well, they shouldn't expect to sell spinach only to tall people."
We continued through the vegetables. We came upon a display of exotic tropical fruits. There was one round brown fruit, sort of wrapped in a green mesh. MY WIFE picked it up by its green mesh handle. After looking at it with some puzzlement, she said, “Is this an Ugli Fruit?”
I said, “No, that’s a coconut.”
I then pointed out the actual Ugli fruit. Except, it seems they are no longer called Ugli fruit. In an effort to sell more of these ridiculously overpriced wrinkly grapefruits, they have been renamed Uniqs. Yes, they are no longer Ugly. They are now Unique.
MY WIFE said, “Ugh. The ultimate in political correctness. Do they not want to hurt the fruit’s feelings?”
As we turned the corner into the next aisle, we came upon a man with three children. They were all dressed in their pajamas. No doubt, the kids had goaded Dad into wearing his PJs to the store. He, being a fun father, had agreed. MY WIFE and I thought it was kind of cute, but we also hoped that his charlie wouldn’t flop out at some point and go dragging across any of our future groceries. One of his daughters asked him what time it was. Dad said, “Time to go grocery shopping!”
Well, that was certainly cute. Naturally, we needed to get away from such an overload of cuteness as quickly as possible - we were supplying our own overload of cuteness on this trip, thanks - so we hurried by them and hit the cookie aisle.
I explained to MY WIFE that this was where I usually spent five minutes looking at the many offerings, but then always chose two packages of the cheapest ones. She suggested that I close my eyes, spin around, and then buy whatever cookies I grabbed first. That sounded like fun, so I did as she suggested. When my hands came to rest on a package of oatmeal cookies, she said, “Oh, those are no fun! Buy whatever you want.” Another good suggestion! I chose animal crackers and honey grahams. They seemed to fit in with my general goal in life, which is to recreate kindergarten whenever possible.
We ambled on, adding things to our shopping cart: dill pickles, cream cheese with chives, Italian ice; you know, the staples. We went to the register and paid for our goodies (offsetting the final tally via the $1.85 MY WIFE got for returning the bottles) and then we returned home.
Remember what I said about kindergarten two paragraphs ago? Keeping with that theme, I had some graham crackers and milk, and then took a nap. Except, I had barely settled into bed when MY WIFE brought me the phone.
On the other end of the line was a buddy of mine from work. He and his wife – a.k.a. Balcony Gal – have season tickets to the Celtics. However, they were in Arkansas, visiting his grandmother, and wouldn’t be arriving back in Boston until 1:30 Sunday afternoon. This meant that they wouldn’t be able to use their tickets for game seven in the series against the Atlanta Hawks, scheduled for a one o’clock start. He asked if MY WIFE and I would like them.
Would I like them? Would Hillary Clinton like to have photos of Barack Obama making sweet love to John McCain? Woo-Hoo! We’re going to game seven!
As you know from a previous post, we adore old-time radio. Prior to seeing the Celtics (hopefully) whip the butts of the Hawks, MY WIFE and I had a date for Saturday night. We were going to see a performance of Radio Classics Live. This is an annual show put on at Massasoit College. Local TV and radio personalities, as well as a handful of stars from the original genre, reenact old-time radio shows, and it is always a wonderful production. It is now in its 19th year. We invited MY WIFE’s sister, Victoria, and her husband, Joe, to see the show with us.
Well, it was as grand as it usually is, which is to say it was a great fun evening. Among the old-time radio stars performing were Rosemary Rice (I Remember Mama), Arthur Anderson (Let’s Pretend), and Donald Buka (Gangbusters). Boston-area luminaries Gil Santos (voice of the New England Patriots) and Rex Trailer (a personal hero of mine, as related here) had star turns. Newsmen Rod Fritz and Ben Parker got to cut loose. Steve Buckley, the sportswriter, and talk host Jordan Rich gave us some good laughs. Opera star Don Bravo, stage actress Alice Duffy, and recently-released-from-WBZ anchorman Scott Wahle were all warmly received and were, in return, polished, professional, and vastly entertaining. There were many others, all performing gratis for the school, and they were all wonderful.
The shows reenacted included The Life Of Riley, The Jimmy Durante Show (Jordan Rich giving a spot-on Durante impersonation), Bold Venture (in which Gil Santos did a nice Bogart), Duffy’s Tavern, a George Burns-Gracie Allen skit, and Ethel & Albert. The latter (actually, two separate performances of the 15 minute show; one prior to intermission and one to end the show) was the undisputed highlight.
Peg Lynch, now 91, was the sole writer of the show during its many years as a radio staple. She was also the star, with a succession of fine actors playing Albert. It was a show about an everyday couple (Ethel & Albert, of course) who… well, it’s hard to do justice to the show by describing it. It was sort-of the Seinfeld of its day. Nothing happens. The couple – they are the only voices heard – discuss mundane things like balancing a checkbook, or delivering a pair of galoshes to a friend who had left them behind inadvertently during a previous visit. And it is screamingly funny. Ethel & Albert become mildly exasperated with each other’s small shortcomings, but it never descends into insult humor – it is always gentle – and the love between the two characters is always apparent. It is hilarious, nevertheless. It is a brilliant slice of Americana, written with grace and superb comic voice by Ms. Lynch.
It was acted by Ms. Lynch and Arthur Anderson, both with masterful timing as well as inflection. They received a spontaneous standing ovation following the first piece. The second piece had me laughing so hard, I got a headache from lack of oxygen.
Peg Lynch should get a medal or millions of dollars or sainthood or SOMETHING for providing such goodness for the soul. That this sort of thing apparently no longer has an audience (outside of the relatively small venue in which we saw it) is an indictment of American society as a whole. I can’t possibly praise it, or her, enough.
Nor can I praise you enough. You've made it this far, and I haven't even gotten to Sunday yet. That will happen tomorrow. See you then.