Column: Tales shared of Romeos, obituaries and shopping from Exit 22

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

By Al Batt, Tribune columnist

Kibbles and bits

My mother had two dogs for a while. She fed them a dog food product called, &uot;Kibbles and Bits.&uot;

One dog ate the Kibbles and the other canine ate the Bits. Romeos

I am told that there is a group of men in Northfield known as the ROMEOs.

It stands for &uot;Retired Old Men Eating Out.&uot;

Box elders

Box elder trees attempt to fill any space available near our home.

I like the trees.

Not everyone is enchanted with them as much as I am.

They continue to grow while looking as though they are dying.

They don’t grow very straight.

They have an arthritic appearance.

A neighbor struggles to rid his yard of the trees. He told me that the box elders are too crooked to hit with an axe.

A chicken dinner

A very nice woman told me the story of the early days of her marriage.

They married young, had little or no money and the babies arrived quickly and regularly.

One year, her husband decided to throw caution to the wind and take his wife out to a fancy restaurant. The dining establishment was ritzier than any place they had ever visited before.

They didn’t eat out much.

The menus came. They both tried to keep their eyes on the food offerings rather than the prices.

The husband said that he had always wanted to eat lobster.

He had heard that it was supposed to be good. He ordered lobster.

The wife ordered fried chicken.

The meals arrived.

The husband didn’t like the lobster at all. He traded it to his wife for the fried chicken.

The fried chicken that his wife had ordered, not because she liked fried chicken, but because her husband loved fried chicken.

The obituaries

When I was a boy, I would visit my grandmother at her home in an extremely small town in Iowa. It was so small that when someone cut onions, the whole town cried.

Grandma would read the obituaries from the local newspapers out loud.

Most of the subjects of the obits died of natural causes.

When I said my bedtime prayers each night, I would ask that I would never catch any of the dreaded &uot;natural causes.&uot;

He could smell the rain

I once knew a man who insisted that he not only could smell rain coming, but he could smell the arrival of snow as well.

It was amazing how often his predictions were correct.

This man broke his nose while playing basketball as a child.

It is my belief that his broken nose never set properly and he ended up with a nose with a meteorological bent.

Shopping

My wife needed to do some shopping.

My mission, if I chose to accept it, was to drive her to a place where shopping was done.

Being a dutiful husband, I drove.

I elected not to join her in the actual shopping, opting to remain in the cold car sitting in the parking lot instead.

I prefer to do things that are more exciting than shopping &045; things like reading an odometer.

I watched all the traffic coming to the busy shopping center.

As a boy, I thought that by now the world would be Jetson-like.

Where are the flying cars?

I watched a fellow with a SUV the size of Idaho pull into the lot.

He quickly spotted a parking place near the entrance to the mall.

He drove his apartment-building-on-wheels quickly to the space, just in case someone else had also seen it.

The space was small. Snow had obliterated the lines that outlined the parking place. The lines are only a suggestion to many drivers anyway.

I watched as the operator of the massive SUV attempted to get into the space. He backed up. He drove ahead. He backed up. He drove ahead. He waited for traffic. He backed up and stared at the space. He was trying to figure how to squeeze into that small area. He tried and he tried.

Finally, he gave up.

He found another parking space. It was farther from the mall entrance, but he had no problem getting into it.

I watched him walk into the mall.

A couple of minutes later, I saw him walk back to his SUV. He was carrying a can of Pringle’s Potato Chips.

He had spent more time trying to park close to the mall than he did shopping in the mall.

(Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays in the Albert Lea Tribune.)