Last week, in my column in the Lawrence County Press, I revealed a secret about men. This was the 2nd secret about men I have published to the world. Here’s a look back at the first one I gave up three and a half years ago.
I’m gonna tell a secret that I shouldn’t tell. It’s a secret about men that women don’t need to know, but I guess I’ll tell it anyway. It doesn’t apply to all men, but I’m sure it applies to many; at least quite a few; well, I do know for sure at least one it applies to. With reluctance, here is the secret: ladies, if you are ever in a Cracker Barrel store/restaurant and you see your husband or manfriend ease his way to the right rear corner of the store, he’s gone back there to check out the toys.
A few months ago I somehow found myself in that area of the store in the Brookhaven, Mississippi Cracker Barrel. Since I was already there, I thought I might as well check out the toys myself. While I was there, there was another kid, I mean, there was a kid there. He was maybe ten or eleven, and he was dressed immaculately in a grey suit and white shirt with a straight and narrow black tie and black shoes. If you remember the TV show “Dragnet,” he looked like a blend of Joe Friday and Pee Wee Herman. He was checking out the toys too, and I nodded my head, smiled, and probably gave him a “hey man,” and went on checking out the toys.
Like most kids would, he must’ve felt a little self-conscious wearing that suit while everybody else in the store was dressed casually, and after a minute or two, out of the blue, as if he needed to explain himself, he said to me “I’m dressed like this because I’ve been to a funeral.” I told him I was sorry, and asked if it was someone he was close to. “Well, pretty close, but not really. He was my daddy’s great uncle.” I told him again that I was sorry.
I picked up a Slinky and changed the subject: “Hey, have you ever had a Slinky? I never much cared for a Slinky; couldn’t do much with them.”
“Yeah, I had a Slinky; I know what you mean, not much you can do with them.”
“Hey, what about an 8-Ball? You ever have an 8-Ball?”
“No, never had an 8-Ball. What does it do?”
“It answers questions. See.”
“Hey, there’s some Silly-Putty. You ever have any Silly-Putty?”
“Oh yeah, I’ve had plenty of Silly-Putty.”
“You ever mash Silly-Putty down on the funny papers in a newspaper and lift off the picture?”
Looking perplexed, he said “Huh? No, I never did that.”
“Well, you just put your paper down flat and mash the Silly-Putty down flat on it, and pick it up easy, and your Silly Putty will have the picture on it.”
“Hey, a Super Ball. You ever had a Super Ball?”
“No, what’s a Super Ball do?”
“Bounces real high when you throw it down hard. I might buy this Super Ball.”
“What about green plastic Army men? You ever had Army men?”
Yeah, I got lots of Army men.”
“You ever had a top like this? Except mine was bigger than these. I liked my top. And if you got it going fast enough, it would whistle.”
Really? I never had a top.”
“You ought to get you a top. But you gotta get it going fast. Oh wow. Look at this. You got an Etch-A-Sketch?”
“Oh, yeah, I got an Etch-A-Sketch. I like ‘em.”
“Yeah, I loved my Etch-A-Sketch. I must’ve gone through about three or four or them. But I never could do anything on them but go back and forth over and over again so I could see the thing in there that does the writing. You ever do that? And I could write words on them; I could write anything.”
“Yeah, I could write anything.” And then I wrote out “U. S. A.” and showed him.
“Wow, that’s cool. I wish I could do that.”
“You can; you just got to practice a lot. Hey, I know what you can do; what’s your name? I will write out your name, and then we can put the Etch-A-Sketch back on the rack here, and you can bring your parents over and say ‘Hey, look at this Etch-A-Sketch,’ and it’ll have your name on it.”
He nodded his head and said, “Martin,” and I wrote his name out on the Etch-A Sketch and put it back on the rack.
About that time my adult, school-man mentality kicked in, and I thought to myself, “This kid’s parents should have checked on him by now. He’s been left with this strange adult (me) too long.” I turned away from the toy display, and just three or four feet behind Martin and me was a thirty-something woman who looked a lot like Martin, and she was trying to hold back a silent laugh. I think she’d been listening for a while.
I was satisfied that Martin was well looked after, and I needed to slip out of the right rear corner before my wife caught me checking out the toys.