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A few anecdotes from my diary…

Earlier today, I went to Wal-Mart to buy an array of botanical poisons for the fence line. As they were out of agent orange, I bought a huge supply of the stuff that kills plants, bushes, and probably even the entire biosphere of North America. In addition, I saw that table salt was on sale for about fifty cents a container. Naturally, I bought twelve or so. As I was checking out, I asked if I could borrow a kleenex. The clerk looked up and before she could ask, I warned her that the chip reader was about to make me cry. I think I’d rather have a burglar steal my underwear than deal with chipped cards. As she was scanning the large volume of salt, I could tell she was curious. Instead of letting her wonder, I volunteered the reasons for so much salt. “Well, meth uses a lot ammonia and bleach. The salt can be used to reduce the dissolution temperature of the third stage of the process. Having made a few hundred batches, salt is a cheap way to keep the house from blowing up – again. I was the lucky the first time.” I pointed at my half-closed eye, as if it was the result of a past meth explosion at my house. The look on her face was as startled as any I’ve ever seen. I think she ultimately realized that I was a clown, having a good time. We shared several laughs after that. PS: When she asked me if I wanted cash back, I replied, “Yeah, wouldn’t that be great, to hear his smooth country voice again?” Surprisingly, she got that dumb joke immediately.

(Sidenote for the SWAT Team: I was kidding about the meth thing. While I adored “Breaking Bad,” chemistry requires math -which excludes my participation. Also, given my poor tooth maintenance program and total lack of juvenile dental care, I have to cherish my remaining teeth before they escape my mandibles.)

Once near Batesville, Dawn opted to eat at Aubrey’s Mexican Food and Pizza for the second time. And yes, they do both. It was much better this time – and I made a few friends. I think our waitress wanted to marry me. I only say that because she got down on one knee and proposed. Just kidding, but she was so excited to find someone who is bilingual and so weird. She was very familiar with NWA and lived a long time just North of there in Monett. We talked a long time and shared many laughs and jokes. She came to Batesville to care for a sick daughter and while she loves the area, would love to go back across the state. Although having no personal worries about the law, she was concerned about the change in mood lately. I told her enough reasons in Spanish to allay her fears. There’s nothing like pico de gallo, cheese dip, and taking a moment to both laugh and think to lift a person’s soul a little bit. As a bonus, we also got to work into the conversation my resemblance to a fat version of Pablo Escobar, as well as Dawn’s poorly-concealed admiration of Ricky Martin and Chayanne. While she denies it, I think she keeps muttering “Delicioso” when they appear on TV.

Dawn wanted a cup of coffee. That or some exotic hallucinogen – I couldn’t be sure. All I know is that she had that intense look of mysterious determination, evidenced by a trail of spittle around her lips. After investigating the infamous whereabouts of the Notorious missing Starbucks (we did find at least 3 doughnut shops in a cluster, though, as if there was a pastry mafia at work in Batesville), we stopped at a stop-and-rob near our intended hotel. After I was able to give the useful and hilarious “Your other right” advice to Dawn when she was vainly searching for a coffee accessory hidden directly to her right, we ambled around the convenience store like drunken sailors on leave after having been quarantined for a month but yet desperately wanting an obscure snack cake. After what seemed like 90 minutes of wandering in the wilderness of the aisles, I went up to the cashier’s station. A large, thick-bearded gentleman offered to help me. I pointed at the cups and said, “Two coffees and two ices.” Dawn for some reason only known to sages and blind gurus, mentioned the coffees again, as if the clerk had been rendered instantaneously blind by my comment. To be funny, I repeated what I had chosen, except in reverse. “Two coffees and two ices,” I bellowed in a strange voice, just to be amusing. To my shock, though, the word “ICES” when shouted sounded exactly like I had screamed “ISIS.” The clerk momentarily looked at me like he was a concealed carry permit holder anxious to exercise his right to blow my stupid head off. I wouldn’t have blamed him. Instead, a slow smile spread across his face. I pointed to Dawn and uttered, “She don’t get out much, sir.”

When we got to the car, I relented and decided to get gas. (Dawn and I engage in an elaborate dance about how frequently we need to put gas in the car. I like to pretend I’m just about to let it coast into the garage on fumes.) Since I had one eye partially closed from my battle with the fence line this week and my glasses weren’t helping, I kept vainly trying to get the gas pump to work. I had a new chipped debit card which evidently didn’t affect anything – but in my mind, it was that darned new-fangled technology that was the problem, rather than my inability to follow simple instructions. I leaned in an kept reading, “Prepray before pumping,”instead of “Prepay before pumping.” Darn, I thought to myself, they have no idea I’m about to start doing just that if I can’t get this pump to work. In the back of my mind, too, I thought I might scream a prayer if the large bearded clerk had changed his mind about my shenanigans and came out to either offer to assist me in the complicated task of pumping gas, or hurling me into the highway.

When we arrived at the hotel in Batesville, I attempted to circumvent my wife’s notorious OCD-whatif-omg tendency by insisting we take both laptops to the hotel room before proceeding with anything else. I didn’t want her to enumerate the potential 47 illicit things that could wrong if something happened to our personal computers. In her defense, she made an impassioned plea to include the package of lemon ice cookies regardless of whatever else we took up. After exiting for the return trip to the car, Dawn noticed she had only one key card in the fold-up holder. “I probably dropped it,” she joked. I replied, “Yes, you probably did, but if not, we’ll be okay with just one.” As we came back up to the room and exited the elevator, we both saw a room key card in the middle of the hallway. As we neared, we could see that Dawn had, in fact, dropped the other key card outside our door where anyone could have picked it up while we were absent for a few minutes. Naturally, we both laughed at the idiocy of it all, because for once we brought the most valuable things up to the room first, only to be vanquished by Dawn’s butterfingers with the keys.

Bonus: Despite several reasons and opportunity to do so, Dawn did NOT in fact push me out the door of the car around the serpentine curves to Batesville. Personally, I think she was afraid of the ‘No Littering’ signs along the highway.

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