We were in town the other day, and as on so many other occasions, we stood, indecisively, and wondered if there was anything else we had to do before we could give up and go home.
I thought for a minute.
‘Wilkinsons!’ I said. ‘I need more mealworms!’*
We looked up the street towards that distant emporium of wonders.
Me: ‘Do you want to come with me, or take this stuff to the car and meet me in Waitrose?’
OH: ‘I don’t mind coming with you. Providing you’re not in there for ages, that is?’
I assured him I only wanted mealworms, so off we set. When we arrived, OH looked a little disconsolately at the big glass doors and the heaving masses inside them, and then at a metal bench on the pavement outside. It was damp, and looked distinctly greasy.
‘If it was cleaner – and if it was warmer – I’d sit out here and wait for you’, he said.
He trailed behind me as I went inside. I located the mealworms fairly quickly, but then, it has to be said, I got a bit caught up in all the random stuff they have in there: strange, bizarre stuff, a lot of it. Lurid place mats, and doorstops shaped like foxes and huge wooden ampersands. I mean, who buys all this crap, I wondered, even as I secretly thought some of it looked kind of fun…
OH kept disappearing and reappearing. He looked tired and dispirited. I spotted a bench, and pointed to it: a clean one, inside the shop on the far side of the tills, no doubt put there for weary husbands to prevent them dragging their wives off home without spending any money. His face lit up and off he went, sinking onto it gratefully to wait for me.
When I had finished marvelling at all the stuff (and very nearly buying some of it), I took my mealworms to the till, paid for them, and walked up to OH on his bench. I thought I’d cheer him up a bit.
‘Haven’t you got a home to go to?’ I asked, quietly, bending down to him solicitously. ‘Would you like to come home with me?’
A couple of people sneaked sideways glances, but I ignored them.
OH looked up at me, suspicious but hopeful. ‘You do look nice,’ he said. ‘I dunno. Got any bourbons?’
‘No’, I said.
‘Not coming with you if you haven’t got any bourbons,’ he said, sulkily.
‘OK, suit yourself’, I said, and walked off.
I was almost out of the door before he caught up with me.
‘I thought you wanted bourbons!’ I asked, a touch frostily as we stepped out into the equally frosty air.
He grinned. ‘I thought I might persuade you to buy some!’
I laughed, and we proceeded the road, happy in the knowledge that some very confused people were probably watching us from Wilkinsons, convinced I’d picked up a strange, homeless person and walked off with him.
We had turned the corner towards the shopping centre and car park, when OH clutched at me.
‘Look at that bus!’ he said
I looked. It was going to Southend. ‘Yes?’ I asked.
‘Southend via Manchester!’ he said. ‘Do they actually know where either of those places are? You might as well say ‘London via Leeds!’
‘That is rather strange’ I said, puzzled. I opened my mouth to speak, but he got there first.
‘Got any bourbons?’ he asked, hopefully.
‘I have no bourbons’. I replied. ‘Perhaps you should go back to Wilkinsons. There’s a nice bench there, inside, out of the cold’.
We giggled, and went to Waitrose and did our shopping, and we went home, and I cooked some dinner. We watched an old episode of Boston Legal, and when it had finished, OH turned to me and said:
‘I could do with a bourbon or two right now’.
‘Sorry’ I replied. ‘I still don’t have any bourbons’.
There was a pause.
‘Oh, well, never mind’, he said. ‘This chair’s a lot more comfortable than that bench, anyway’.
It’s lovely to be able to make each other laugh and play silly games over nothing, don’t you think? But I often wonder; are we really peculiar, or do other people do this kind of thing, too?
And if they did, would they admit it?
* Wilkinson’s have the cheapest mealworms in town. We have so many ravenous starlings here that we get through buckets of the things during the winter. If I put enough out, the other birds get a fighting chance to pick up one or two.