Being on my own, ‘groceries’ is a foreign concept, especially since I eat a dog diet. A dog diet is one characterized by adherence to a routine, not necessarily dog food. I’ll avoid the easy jokes about the cafeteria at work or making the staggeringly bad choice of eating at Hardee’s. In other news, Hardee’s closed its Fayetteville location. I feel safer already.
My friend and neighbor wanted me to pick her up a whole chicken. After some initial confusion, I realized she didn’t want a live bird necessarily. I wondered, “Do they even SELL whole chickens anymore? And if so, at Harp’s?” I’d hadn’t contemplated a different life wherein I’d be buying a whole chicken. Not all interesting things are what you’d expect.
The Harp’s on Garland has been suffering a renovation since 1919, or so it seems. Just for kicks and giggles, I opted to go there. My expectations were low, much like they were in a Bush presidency, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much it had improved. Even so, it doesn’t compare well to the Gutensohn location in Springdale. None of them do, except for perhaps the Lowell branch.
Wandering the aisles like I was on a drunken excursion, I went to the alcohol section. Two younger men were looking in the beer section. As men do at that age, they were calculating the best alcohol content options versus price. “That’s piss, dude. No way I’m drinking that,” one of them said. “Well, you’re paying the difference.” I’ve heard that same conversation a hundred times in my life. Because I’m committed to the dual goals of being immersed in unplanned stories and being helpful, I cleared my throat and said, “If money weren’t an option, what would you buy?” The man in the bright sports jersey said, “Ah, no question, it would be Budweiser.” His friend shook his head. “NO, it would be ___.” I didn’t recognize the brand name of the beer. I’m not brand loyal. I like both low-quality and high-quality beer.
“Okay, here’s the deal. Here’s $10 to pay for the difference.” Both looked at me suspiciously. “All I ask is that you promise to tell this story, that an old crazy guy gave you $10 at Harp’s so you could buy the beer you want.”
They exchanged looks. “For real?” I laughed. “Yes, no catch. We’ve all been young once.” I handed the young man wearing the colorful sports jersey a $10 bill.
“Thanks, I’m not too proud to take it.”
As I walked away, both of them animatedly began the inevitable debate of how best to spend the extra money on the beer of their choosing. Later, if they began imbibing the beverage of their choice, I hoped they’d make the story of my offer truly crazy. Alcohol inspires creativity. I do wonder how long they stood at the case arguing. Too many options often make the simplest decision unbearable.
I made my way to find the mythical whole chicken.
Life is good.