They say the second thing to go as you get older is your memory. I guess I'm no exception.
This morning as I went out the door on the way to the store, Patty called after me and asked me to up some medicine for her from the pharmacy department. I'm afraid I wasn't listening as closely as I should have, and by the time I got to the store, I had completely forgotten what it was she wanted. Pacing back and forth in the several aisles in that department, I looked at every article on the shelves, hoping that when I saw whatever it was it would jog my memory.
A nice-looking young woman was stocking the shelves, and every time I passed she nodded and smiled. Finally she could stand it no longer. With a big, chirpy smile she asked if she could help me find something. That question triggered my gag reflex. No, I didn't throw up, it just made me look for some kind of gag to ply her with.
As it happened, the night before I had seen the movie of the stage play "Cats," and there was one character there I could relate to; Gus, the theatre cat. He had the blank-faced look of the elderly stroke victim. I let my face settle into a blank mask. Wasn't hard to do, neither, for me.
"Well," I said, in as bland a voice as I could muster, with just a little quaver to it, "my wife asked me to pick something up for her, and now I can't remember if she asked for Preparation H or Monostat 3."
Her eyes went wide. She bit her bottom lip and swallowed a couple of times. "Don't you know the difference?"
"Kinda. I think I know what Preparation H is, but I'm not sure about the Monostat 3. She uses both, but for the life of me I can't recall which one she wanted this time. What do you think? What's the difference between them? They both do the same thing, don't they?" By now I, too, was biting my lower lip and swallowing, trying to keep a straight face.
She was a really sweet young lady, but very literal minded. She began trying to explain what the medications were for and how to use them, trying to use dry, technical terms, but the further she got, the more inane my questions became, and she became hopelessly embarrassed. I could have lit a match on her face. By then she was looking at her feet and mumbling. If she had been a little older and a little more worldly and not averse to using direct, colloquial English, she could have cleared the matter up in seconds. As it was she floundered about trying to find the least offensive words to use. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Just as she was about to give up and call for help, maybe even store security, my eyes lit up. "Aha! There it is." I scooped up a bottle of aspirin and headed for the checkout stand. I could feel her eyes on my back as I hurried away.
When I got home Patty asked me if I'd gotten what it was she wanted. I answered cryptically, "No, but I got what I wanted."