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by Al Batt

I went shopping with my lovely bride. Well, I really didn’t go shopping with her. I went to a mall with her.
The mall was like a burlap bag to me. I didn’t want to be in it. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have--unless I have to go shopping. Shopping is an accomplice to my discomfort.
She went shopping and I went to the geezer bench. The geezer bench is where many nonshopping husbands find themselves in a mall. The husbands take different roads to the same place--the geezer bench. We sit while our better halves search for sales offering one item for half the price of two. Very often, the men are holding their wives’ purses as the women do something other than shop. 
“They can have my wife’s purse when they pry it from my cold, dead hands,” I muttered bitterly.
We at the geezer bench find comfort in numbers. We herd together to combat the uneasiness we feel in a place far from our natural habitat. We hum the theme from “Mission Impossible.”
We went from prom night to geezer bench in the blink of an eye.
We gathered at the bench to rest our weary legs and to share commonalities. We discussed important things while we sat. We conversed about the high-definition weather occurring outside. “Thou shalt talk about the weather” could be the Eleventh Commandment. We wondered why women don’t find great joy in watching the Three Stooges. We asked why our eyebrows had suddenly gotten minds of their own and gone wild. We agreed that is isn’t much fun to visit ancient ruins when they are younger than we are.
We didn’t share these comments with our wives. Proverbs guides us thusly, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”
We find it safer to say things that make a bride’s eyes roll. Things like, “Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow and when I woke up my pillow was gone.”
I followed my wife around a couple of stores. I whimpered quietly. I am a married man, so I have a single check in my wallet. Back in the days when I could dress myself, I used to carry an entire checkbook, but now I am down to one check. If you see a man pull the only check he has out of his billfold, he’s a married man. Gertrude Stein said, “Money is always there, but the pockets change.” 
I stopped to look at a display of reading glasses. It turned out to be a display of watchbands. I should wear my eyeglasses when I’m looking at things that I think are eyeglasses.
I stopped at a home furnishings store and planted myself in a chair. I watched and listened to parents dealing with misbehaving children in the expensive, breakable stuff aisle. Parents are amazing creatures. A parent is someone who, in a public place, can yell in a whisper. The clerks left me alone. They could tell that I wasn’t buying anything and was there for the single purpose of seeing what the cost was of the things I was not buying.
My wife moved on to a shoe store. I moved back to the geezer bench. I dodged the bullet of shopping for shoes with my wife. Good times.
I sat alone at the geezer bench as all the other geezers had been called home by their cell phones. I had no idea where my wife was. I must have looked unhappy as an acquaintance who I had not seen for some time stopped by and asked, “Al, you look so sad. What’s wrong?”
I replied, “I lost my wife.”
“Oh, no,” said my visitor, her face contorted into one showing bereavement. “I hadn’t heard. She was so young. I am so sorry for your loss.”
I responded, “That’s OK. It’s no big deal. It’s a big mall. She has a lot of places to hide, but I’ll find her.”
©Al Batt 2009
Hartland, MN

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Al lives on a farm in Minnesota with his wife, Gail. Al is a writer, a newspaper columnist, a radio personality, a speaker and a storyteller.

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