14 Sep 2014
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Diagonally Parked In A Parallel Universe

The columnist was once of the opinion that some things just don’t make sense. He has since amended that opinion and now believes that most things don’t make sense.

Diagonally Parked In A Parallel Universe


I’ve been unusually tired this past week. I realize that I’m not going to have the same zip I had back in the day, but this whole low energy deal is not acceptable. It’s cramping my style. 

My wife says I’m tired because I never sit still and I’m always juggling several projects at the same time. I don’t believe that’s the case but, then again; what man ever thought his wife had a valid opinion about anything? 

I thought a regular exercise routine would help with my energy deficiency so I joined Gold’s Gym a few months ago. I’ve just cancelled my membership, though. I don’t see spending the money every month if it’s not working for me. Apparently, I was expected to actually go to the gym if I expected to see results. Can you imagine? Like I was going to go there and get all sweaty! 

I suppose my wife is right about one thing; I definitely have trouble relaxing. That’s always been a problem for me. I used to relax by using, well; let’s just refer to them as ‘relaxation aides’, but that was many years ago and I don’t do that anymore. Besides, that stuff got me a little too relaxed, if you know what I mean. 

There are a lot of people who ‘self-medicate’ in order to relax. I’m not talking about drug addicts, just regular working folks who have various challenges with which they have trouble dealing; people who should really see a doctor, but who choose to deal with their issues in their own way by using alcohol or non-prescription drugs. That probably isn’t the way to go, but it’s a fact of life in this country and throughout the world. 

Many years ago when we lived in Los Angeles, I came to the realization that I had to do something to try to ramp down a bit, so a friend suggested I try Yoga. He was a true type-A personality and he told me practicing Yoga had helped him to unwind so I figured it was worth a shot. I’m sure it would have been a great help if I’d been able to go to the class and concentrate on what I was doing. It was way too distracting for me being in a room full of women dressed in form-fitting tights, stretching and contorting their bodies into all sorts of alluring positions. I probably would have stayed and given it a shot for a few weeks if the instructor hadn’t asked me to leave. She said some of the women had complained that I was gawking at them. Gawking? Yuh, right! I was studying their technique! 


 I was on my way to an appointment in Foxboro one day last week and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on Route 106 for a much-needed cup of coffee. There was a long line and I had to wait quite a while before I ordered. I had finally reached the counter and was about to place my order when the woman behind me answered her cell phone. “Hello,” she said quite loudly, but apparently got no response so she elevated her voice a few decibels and again said, “Hello,” with the same result - no response. 

Again her voice got louder as she yelled, “Hello. Hello. Hello,” but to no avail. “Hello. Hello,” she continued as I tried to order my coffee, raising my voice above her shrill, irritating tone so the girl behind the counter could hear me. 

“Hello. Hello,” she persisted until I turned around and shouted, “I guess there’s no one there!” She raised her eyebrows, made a strange huffing sound and put her phone back in her pocket. 

I turned around and smiled at the young lady behind the counter. “I’d like a large, iced coffee with half the amount of cream you normally put and two Splendas on the side, please.” 

“So you want a black coffee with two Splendas on the side?” she asked. 

“No,” I replied. “A large, iced coffee with half the normal amount of cream and two Splendas on the side.” 

“Oh, okay,” she responded confidently, “so how much cream do you normally use?” 

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

“Well, you said you want half the normal amount of cream, but I don’t know what your normal amount is,” she chirped snidely. 

“No,” I said, shaking my head in disgust. “How much cream do you normally put in a large, iced coffee? Whatever you normally put, I want half that amount.” 

“I don’t drink coffee,” she responded, rolling her eyes. 

“No!” I said in frustration, loud enough to attract the attention of all the customers in the store and probably a few outside the door. “If someone orders a large, iced coffee, how much cream do you normally put in it?” 

“Oh, I see what you mean,” she replied excitedly. “Four. We put four creams in a large.” 

Now we were getting somewhere! “Great!” I shouted with joy, “so I want two creams then.” Just as the young lady left the counter to get my coffee, the woman behind me once again pulled her chiming cell phone from her pocket. “Hello. Hello,” she shrieked. I spun around and stared forebodingly into her eyes. She quickly pulled the phone from her ear, turned it off and slipped it back into her pocket. I think she was finally catching on. 

My young server-friend returned to the counter, coffee and Splenda in hand. Hot coffee! She had poured me a hot coffee! Granted, it was large. And it certainly appeared to have the proper amount of cream in it. And she did, after all, comply with my request for two Splendas. I suppose three out of four ain’t bad. After all, if she were a Major League Baseball player she’d be batting .750! 

She seemed like a nice kid and I just didn’t have the heart or the patience to tell her she’d messed up, so I paid for the coffee leaving her none the wiser – which wasn’t hard to do! 

“Thanks, hon,” I said as I grabbed my coffee, smiled politely and headed for the door. I jumped into my SUV, popped in a John Coltrane CD and pulled out on to Route 106, making a right turn at the Bank of America and heading up North Main Street toward Foxboro. 

I was running a little late because of the coffee debacle at Dunkin Donuts, but still had plenty of time to get to my appointment on schedule. As I cruised down Route 140 toward Friendly’s in Foxboro center, which was where my meeting was to take place; my cell phone rang. It was the guy I was supposed to get together with, wanting to reschedule because he had been delayed at an early morning doctor’s appointment. Apparently his doctor was running an hour behind due to an emergency case earlier in the day. 

I told him I’d give him a call when I got back to my office and cut over to Cohasset Street to head back home. By the time I reached the corner of Franklin and East Streets in Mansfield, my coffee was gone and, being me, I needed another one badly so I instinctively pulled in to the strip mall at that intersection to grab a cappuccino at the Icy Bean. 

I guess I needed a coffee more than I had realized because the Icy Bean had gone out of business months prior and I knew that. It’s just that it had been my re-caffeinating station between Easton and Mansfield for so long that stopping there had become instinctive. Man, talk about a conditioned response! Pavlov’s dogs come to mind. 

My next thought was to pop in to the Starbuck’s that’s inside the Target store in Easton. It’s only minutes from home and as I said; I was desperate for more caffeine. Yes, I know that’s pathetic, but we all have our stuff to deal with and apparently going through life as a caffeine junkie is part of my stuff. I say ‘part of my stuff’ because I have a vast collection of stuff I deal with, which seems to be increasing exponentially as time goes by

I drove to Target, raced through the front door, made a mad dash for Starbuck’s and ordered a Quad-Vente Cappuccino. In layman’s terms, I got a large cappuccino with four shots of espresso. 

I sat down and was enjoying my drink when I remembered I needed to pick up some shaving cream and cat treats, so I took a few more sips, put the top on my cup and headed out into the store. I grabbed what I needed and got in to a checkout line behind a woman I’d guess to have been in her late seventies; a prototypical grandmotherly type with her hair wound tightly in a bun that rested neatly on top of her head. She was wearing what appeared to be a hand-knit wool sweater with red roses embroidered on the front just above the pockets. 

She looked at me and smiled. I smiled back, placed my shaving cream and cat treats on the conveyor belt and put the order divider between her items and mine. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said apologetically, “I always forget to do that.” 

“No problem,” I replied. “If that’s the worst thing that happens to me today I’ll be all set.” I was fairly confident it wouldn’t be. 

The cashier swiped the woman’s first two items, picked up her last item and said, “I’ll have to see an ID.” The woman pulled her wallet out of her purse, slipped her driver’s license out of its holder and handed it to the cashier who glanced at it quickly and said, “Thanks,” before swiping the last item and placing it in a bag. 

The older woman looked a bit puzzled and asked, “Why did you need to see my license?” 

The cashier smiled and replied, “For the Endust.” 

The woman responded, “Oh, I thought it was for the candy.” I have no idea why she thought she’d be asked for ID to buy candy, but asking for ID to buy Endust made no sense to me either. The woman paid for her purchases, smiled and grabbed her bag. “Why do you need to see an ID for Endust?” she asked as an obvious afterthought. 

“People use it to get high,” the clerk said. 

“Oh,” the woman responded matter-of-factly as she walked away from the checkout area. 

I wasn’t about to let this one slip by. Endust? Really? Some poor soul uses Endust to get high? “You’re kidding, right?” I asked the cashier as I pulled my debit card from my wallet. 

“What?” she asked. 

“About the Endust,” I replied. “Are you serious?” 

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “It’s true. They huff it.” 

“They what?” I asked, realizing I was way out of the loop on this one. 

“Huff it,” she repeated. “They get high from the fumes.” 

Okay! I grew up in the sixties and lived in California, the land of fruit and nuts, for several years. I’ve seen everything! But snorting Endust fumes takes the cake. Good grief! 

I paid for my purchases and left the store, totally blown away by the fact that we’ve sunk so low that we now have to show identification to buy furniture polish. 

Huffing furniture polish! Do you think that’s why Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose? Hmm! Flying reindeer! Now it’s all starting to make sense! 

Make it a great week! 

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