You’ve probably heard, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
It’s especially true for Marine Corps drill instructors. My daddy was a DI for only two of his 20 years in the Corps, but he drilled us like Marine recruits from the day we were born. Despite his rough demeanor, though, he had a philosophical nature. When I broke my collarbone playing football or had one of my toes cleated off during track practice, Daddy told me it would feel better when it stopped hurting. It always did, usually within a few months.
One day, he said something perplexing. He told me a man will spend the first 20-25 years of his life looking for the right woman, and then he’ll spend the next 50-60 years waiting for her.
I didn’t understand what he was talking about until 12 years later, when I accompanied my new bride to the mall. The waiting only got worse when our daughters reached the age of shopability.
Do ladies have to visit every store in a mall? And why do shoes have to match the rest of their attire? I’m content with one pair of dress shoes, hiking/yard-work shoes and hunting/fishing boots. They don’t match anything else I wear, but no one on the river or passing me in the woods has ever criticized my boots for not matching my Real Tree hunting shirt or Cabela’s baseball cap.
When we hubbies/fathers accompany our wives/daughters to the mall, we’re expected to be patient. I have lots of patience when fishing, but not while shopping.
I’m not alone. I’ve had countless conversations with other men seeking refuge on those hard, wooden benches they make just for us in America’s malls. One old fellah I remember proposed that mall management provide husbands with recliners and our own TVs with remotes and headphones.
But I’ve found something better than recliners — food courts.
Did you know food-court restaurants offer free samples? While your wife and daughters are assaulting various stores at the Savannah Mall, you can explore the food court, sampling bourbon chicken at Cajun Cafe & Grill or fried rice at China Max.
It’s also possible to get a dozen itty-bitty samples of ice-cream flavors at Cold Stone Creamery. In fact, that’s where I usually start. After browsing through and coveting everything they have in Bass Pro Shop, I follow my nose to the food court. Sometimes, I’ll try a new ice-cream flavor, but usually I get a white-chocolate milk shake. I’ll then mosey on over to the food court.
I’ll try something from every restaurant. If I know my wife and daughter are going to be gone a while, I’ll grab a slice of pizza from Sbarro’s Italian Eatery or a sandwich at Chick-fil-A.
My wife sometimes will call to let me know she hasn’t forgotten me, and then ask me what I’m doing. She can tell by the sound of my voice that I’m eating something and, therefore, doing fine.
That doesn’t mean she won’t hear me complain about waiting. She chuckles and tells me they’ll be “finished” in an hour or so.
I’ll head over to Sakkio Japan to sample the grilled zucchini and onions, and then return to my little table with the straight-back chairs made for torturing old paratroopers with multiple jump injuries.
Soon, another problem emerges. I’m sufficiently full and terminally bored, and my neck, lower back and right shoulder are conspiring to convince me I can endure Georgia’s summer heat if I go back to the car for a nap. Nah — I head for the benches over by Bass Pro’s entrance.
After a lifetime of waiting, I’ll see my wife and daughter approaching me, each toting one small bag. They’ll ask if I want to get something to eat. I’m not hungry (anymore), but I’ll agree to pick up something for them on the way home. While ordering their meals at Zaxby’s drive-thru window, they spot a little shop nearby that they have to visit — for just a few minutes, of course.
Daddy, you were so right.
Email Murray at email@example.com.