As usual, I woke up at about 6:30 and I said to my wife, who already was perusing the Naples Daily News, you know what day it is? “Sure,” she responded, “it’s Thursday.”
“Yes, it’s Thursday, but it’s also opening day.”
“Opening day? For what, the stone crabs?”
“No, that was last week. Today is opening day for the new Publix in the Marketplace. Why don’t we go over there. I understand they have a breakfast bar, fresh coffee and a lot of giveaways.”
“It’ll be a mob scene,” she said.
“It may be a mob scene, but it’ll also be a happening.”
“Well, it will happen without me,” she said, and then for emphasis she put the paper down, rolled over and pulled the cover over her head.
A couple of minutes later my friend called.
“You want to play golf this morning?” he asked.
“No, I played yesterday. I thought you said you and your wife were driving to the East Coast today.”
“Well, we were,” he said. “But she heard the new Publix is opening and she wants to see what freebies and bargains they have. She said it’s a happening.”
The phone had reawakened my wife. So I told her that Jane had said it was a happening.
“I’m happy it’s a happening. So why don’t you make yourself happy and go to the happening and you could just happen to take my grocery list from the kitchen which would make me happy,” my wife said. “Meanwhile, I would be very happy if you’d let me go back to sleep.”
“You know I don’t like to do the food shopping, but if that will make you happy, I‘ll do my best.” I guess doing things like that makes for a happy marriage.
Twenty minutes later I was in the car for the five-minute drive to the Marketplace.
Twenty minutes after that I was still in the car trying to find a parking place. Finally some guy pulled out of a parking place so far from the entrance that I could have used a shuttle to get to the store.
When I finally made it to the entrance I was politely and enthusiastically greeted by a lineup of staff, some dressed more like they were working at a Wall Street firm.
One of the latter gentleman handed me a Red Bull energy drink, I assume to prepare me for the challenge ahead.
In looking at my wife’s short list I asked one of the “suits” where I could find the yogurt. Aisle 12 he told me, on your left. And the bread? Aisle 12. The lettuce and fruit? In the vegetable area on your right. The orange juice? Behind the vegetables. That sounded simple.
Armed with that information I headed for Aisle 12. Once I finally made it through the crowds, finding the bread was a cinch and immediately I recognized the loaf that my wife always bought.
And right across the aisle was the yogurt and I have never seen so much yogurt in my life. Countless brands, multi flavors, various prices, lo cal and lo fat and, of course, regular. This is going to be tougher than I thought. I grabbed a variety of a brand that looked familiar to me.
So far so good. But then the adventure of finding and maneuvering my way through the store began. Making the task even more hectic were the many stations where food samples were offered and the aisles where employees were passing tidbits of all varieties. (Most of them did taste good.)
It was like roller derby and bumper cars combined. I couldn’t help but note that women seemed to stay in line while men cut diagonally across regardless of traffic. And, of course, women stopped and asked for directions while men — me included — determinedly kept going even if in the wrong direction.
And there were a lot of men, an indication of the excitement of retirement.
While trying to navigate across the store I ran into Lowell, a retired insurance executive. A few minutes later I almost ran over Jack, a tea party stalwart who I assumed was headed for the tea area. And in the wine department I saw Joe, a retired chemistry executive who no doubt was checking the chemical components by tasting the various wines being offered.
When I finally found my way to the Deli Department, the carts were bumper to bumper, like in a stadium parking lot. I abandoned mine to make my way through the crowd in order to get a number. I pulled 47; they were serving number 20.
I heard my name and saw my old friend Len who lives at Village Walk. He was at the counter being served.
“Bill,” he called. “My old tennis buddy. You gotta try this rare roast beef.” With that he passed a large slice on paper back through the throng toward me. By the time it reached me there was nothing left except the paper and a string of fat.
“Thanks,” I called, “but I’m here for turkey.”
I decided to get the lettuce and fruit first as I could tell that it would be a while before they got to number 47.
As I was trying to make my way to that section, a woman was occupying the only clerk with her complaint that there were not as many of the organic vegetables as she expected.
The confused and exasperated clerk seemed relieved when I tried to get his attention, but he was unable to escape. Another customer pointed me to the red leaf lettuce which was more green than red to me.
By this time I was exhausted and couldn’t face the mob at the deli counter, so I settled for packaged turkey.
As I was heading out the door I decided that the real turkey was me and I wondered if the bed would sill be warm.