I once entered a contest for Gallagher tickets. It was a lark, really. Just for fun. I didn’t put much thought into it. Really, I didn’t care if I won or not. I just wanted to see things get clobbered with a huge sledge hammer.
The contest was for the best smashable item and this would be tested, by some fellow from a local radio station, in the parking lot of a local music store (corner of 34th street and Archer Road in Gainesville, Florida), with a sledge-o-matic.
I had to work that day because it was a day, you see, that fell between Sunday and Saturday. And I would barely get there in time, across town, to wait in line to have my property hit with a twelve-pound block of wood on a stick. I was hopeful it was the sledge-o-matic with the hole in the center so I could see the contents of my still not-chosen choice squeezed skyward through the center of the block.
I needed to stop at the grocery store. I had nothing at home to smash. Our food budget was small. Smaller than small. We went to the farmer’s market on weekends and spent twenty-five bucks on vegetables and some fruit. We then spent about five on rice and beans at Wards. In between we’d pick pears (I knew some sandpear trees no one else seemed to know about) and forage for lambsquarters, rapini and mushrooms. But this was special. This was recreation. So I headed to Food Lion by way of home as, late in the day, my sweetie decided to come along.
As I raced into the house to put my stuff down and usher her into the car, she grabbed a small item off a shelf. I hadn’t the chance to see what it was as it dropped into her cavernous shoulderbag. I didn’t ask as my mind moved back immediately to the pressing time.
At Food Lion. What to buy? A banana. Not bad. Someone must have thought of that. Grab it anyway. A bar of chocolate. No, not a good one. Cheap stuff. Grab it. Wine is messy. And red. Grab it. Glass? No. A box. A box of wine. Yes. A box of wine and I’ll need some suntan lotion. Smelly stuff. Cheap and smelly. Do we have a basket in the car? I think we do. Excellent. Twelve dollars and change? Honey, have two dollars? Cool. Let’s go. Car trunk. Junky basket. Everything in. Five blocks down the street. Where is the crowd?
It was quarter to five. It ended at five. We were it. Us, a manager/handler/media person, a fellow from a local radio station and a basket of cheap crap. One of them looked like he’d been in an all-night food fight.
“Where are the people?”
“It was over at four-thirty.”
“Over? Crap! Listen, I just got off work. Please don’t let someone win just because he is unemployed and I’m not.”
He smiled. “Good point. What do you have there?”
“A redneck picnic on the beach.”
“Holy crap.” He looked, surprised, at the selection. “Do people come that redneck?”
“As a social worker, I can confirm, yes, they do.”
“Let’s take them out of the basket though. Is that a box of wine? Not a giant juice box?”
“Box-O-Wine for sledge-o-matic. And a banana, crappy chocolate and cheap suntan lotion.”
He put them on the pavement, box of wine first, on its broad side, the chocolate on the box of wine, the banana on the bar of chocolate. Lotion next to it on the box.
He made a constipated face. Raised the block-topped pole, dropped it with enthusiasm and I had definitely not stepped back far enough. I was covered with a mash of colour nondescript, fouled winey-rotten-grapy-banana cocoa-butter alcohol-breath and any car speeding by would have caught a whiff big enough have sworn it had been spewed back in an alcoholic spasm after a night of binge drinking and munchies. The chocolate chunks were a bonus.
He shook his head. “Holy shit. I wouldn’t have thought it’d smell that bad.” He was covered afresh with tropical drunken upchuck..
“Man, that was awesome. But it wasn’t the best we had so far. Close. The smelliest. Maybe the most creative but not the best smash.”
My wife walked up. Opened her purse. Took out a small crystal clock. Solid crystal with a clock movement. She put it down in the epicenter of the tropical miasma.
“That,” I told him, “is a clock given to me by my mother-in-law.”
“What am I supposed to do with that?” I can’t hit that with this.” He pointed down to the clock with one hand and held his sledge aloft with the other.
“Did I mention it came from my mother-in-law? This is the woman who offered to pay for our wedding if I stayed home. Did I mention her pet name for me is artificial meat?”
He stared at me. “There will be glass everywhere. Everywhere. I just can’t.” He paused. “Here.”
He reached into a pocket and pulled out four tickets. Two weeks thence at the U of F Theatre for the Performing Arts. Four tickets.
I have no idea where that clock is. Garage sale maybe. Long gone.