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Brother survives holidays in the South

Posted: January 3, 2016 - 12:00am

Two to three times a year, my New Jersey brother, accustomed to subway trains, sidewalks and international neighborhoods, returns to his roots here in Georgia. His physical distance from the South enables him to make unbiased observations of his homeland.

His account of his Christmas visit in his own words:

‘Twas two days before Christmas and all through Wally World people were scrambling for last minute gifts for their kin. I stood in the kitchen-wares department pondering a crockpot.

More specifically, I pondered a camouflage crockpot. Real Tree. Real nice. This is obviously the crockpot a person needs for his deer stand. Perfecting recipes passes time while waiting for a deer to walk out of the woods. A camo crock matches the décor perfectly. The deer won’t notice the slow-cooking Little Smokies or Rotel and Velveeta cheese dip. But would the deer smell the snack? Would that help? I’ve seen a deer eat a cheese curl but never a loaded tortilla chip.

As my mind wandered into a Gary Larson-created deer cocktail party, my father jerked me back to the Technicolor reality of the surrounding chaos. He’d found the microwave we’d come for. It was time to brave the tribulations of the checkout line. With regret, I turned my attention away from the camo crockpot.

We approached the array of checkout lanes and performed the complicated mental math of indecision - customers in queue multiplied by objects in basket plus impulse items divided by average cashier scanning agility compounded by coupons and flyer comparisons - trying to figure which line would result in actual exit from the store. The din of holiday shoppers disrupted our ability to square the delay caused by customer consternation at the credit card machine, and we forgot to carry the one.

Thus, we both lunged for a line where we lingered in limbo. “I always choose the wrong line,” complained my father.

“I think they’re all the wrong line,” I mumbled. Then an As Seen On TV Bullet Blender, placed on the shelf in such a way as to compel me to believe that I needed it, entranced me. I wonder if this comes in camo ...

“The cashier is gone,” my father said. His in-the-nick-of-time interruption saved me from buying the blender. I looked up to see the second-person-in-line’s daughter slumped on the floor, not in despair over the prospect of never leaving Wally World but in a minor-medical-emergency way that made those of us behind her despair that New Year’s would come and go, as would 2016, with us still waiting in the interminable checkout line.

The second-person-in-line yelled into her phone, “I don’t care, just git he-yer!” Our out-of-breath cashier returned pushing a wheelchair and helped the second-person-in-line’s daughter into it.

Now, I’m not a medical professional, but the second-person-in-line’s daughter seemed mildly annoyed at worst. Nonetheless, to hasten the daughter’s access to medical treatment, the first person in line stepped aside for the second-person-in-line to pass, whence the second-person-in-line, seeing she was now the first person in line, pushed the daughter in the wheelchair to the side and began checking out.

And, lo, there it was! She had the camo crockpot amongst her goods. A flood of questions boiled behind my lips, but my father indicated that the math of line-hopping was more critical at this juncture, this time with the added variable of first responders squared by the root of 20 items or less. Our calculations were bound to be wrong, though, until either my dad or I got in the wheelchair.

Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and other books. More than that, she is grateful her brother, PJ, eventually escaped Wally World with her father. PJ’s generosity with his Southern holiday survival story will not soon be forgotten.

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