Like most of my amazing exploits, this occurred back in my rock and roll days. A friend, Jonathan and I were scheduled to play at a Greenwich Village club but there had been an electrical fire so the gig was cancelled.
With time to kill and with nothing to do we decided we’d buy some beers, some munchies, pick up a pizza, then go to his place and play some tunes.
Fast forward. As I’m loading a six pack of Bud into the shopping cart, this woman comes up behind and asks us to move our cart so she can pass. I say ‘Sure’ and move it out of her way. As she walks by she turns and says, ‘Thank…
…but doesn’t follow with the ‘you’. Instead, she stops and just stands there, staring at me. She’s in her early to mid fifties, a little worn around the edges but I don’t recognize her so I’m wondering what the deal is. All of a sudden she breaks into a huge smile, throws her arms around me, hugs me tight and says, ‘Oh, Johnny, they told me they lost you, they told me you were dead!”
“Lady,” I said prying her arms off. “My name isn’t Johnny and I’ve never seen you before in my life. You’ve made a mistake.”
She immediately pales and her big happy eyes get all sad. They start tearing up and I feel terrible. The smile disappears and her shoulders sag.
She steps back and says in an emotionally choked voice. “I…am very sorry. I … I’m on this medication and sometimes…” She wipes a tear away with the back of her hand. “Sometimes I get confused. Johnny, my son was killed in the war last week and you look so much like him that I thought, maybe the government made a mistake, maybe Johnny wasn’t dead. He was all I had and I just haven’t been able to deal with it. I’m sorry I bothered you.”
I feel like an utter, total and complete turd. I try to tell her no harm done and I’m sorry for her loss, but really what can you say after something like this?
So she starts down the aisle and just as I’m about to put another 6 pack in the cart she turns and says, “If I may ask a favor?”
I say, “Sure, anything.”
I never should have added the ‘anything’ as you will now see why.
She says, “Since I’m pretty sure we’ll never meet again, I have but one request and that is if we ever do run into each other again, if I say to you, ‘Hello, Johnny.’ You’ll reply with, ‘Hello, Mom.’”
At this point I can almost hear the Twilight Zone theme playing in my head.
But I figure since I’ve never seen this woman before today and I’ll probably never see her again, what’s the harm?
So I agree. After which Jonathan and I do the rest of the shopping as far away from her as possible.
End of the story? Not…quite.
So we pick up some chips and dip and a frozen pizza and head to the checkout.
And guess who’s on line ahead of us? And since there is only one cashier I have no choice but to get on line behind her. Since she’s bent over unloading her cart, I’m hoping she won’t notice me. Maybe she’ll pick up her bags and leave without knowing I was there.
No such luck.
Just as she puts the last of her items on the cash register’s moving platform, she sees me, smiles and says, “Hello, Johnny.”
So I smile back and say, “Hello, mom.” Then turn to Jonathan and start making believe we’re in the middle of a really important conversation so I won’t wind up being guilted into saying, “Goodbye, mom,” when she leaves.
So she leaves and cashier ring up our stuff and says, “That’ll be $103.50.”
I look at him like he’s out of his mind and say, “How the hell can two six packs, chips, dip and a frozen pizza come to $103.50?”
And he replies…
“Because your mother said you were paying for her groceries.”
Well, I charged out of there determined to grab that woman and drag her back to the store to pay for her own damn groceries. I see her getting into her car, so I run over, grab her arm and try to pull her out. She pulls away and starts kicking at me with her legs.
So I grab one and the next thing I know is, I’m pulling her leg and pulling her leg…
…Just like I’m pulling yours.
Yeah, you hate me now but I guarantee you’ll be pulling that same prank on one of your buddies within the week.
As always if you enjoy my blog why not go to the slideshow above and click on a title to read a free sample. Or you can invite a friend here by clicking on the boxes below.