by David Baugher
I met Elmer at the Shop ‘n Save meat freezer, right in front of the sausage section. He recommended the maple-flavored sausage.
I liked sausage about as much as I enjoyed talking to Elmer, which is to say not very much. Have you ever been trapped by a lonely elderly person who suddenly feels the inexplicable need to converse with you on pretty well any and every subject under the sun. That was Elmer. You try to walk away. You try to look occupied. You try all the subtle and some of the not so subtle signals to indicate that you did not budget this much time in your schedule for pleasantries in the freezer aisle with total strangers and you must get on with your life now. It does no good. Elmer is immune to the social graces. He feels the need to talk and you feel the horrible responsibility to listen.
I told Elmer that I did not care for sausage because of the cholesterol. This proved to be a tactical mistake on my part because it turned out that Elmer had a great many opinions on the subject of cholesterol. Elmer informed me that he was 79 years old and he had eaten sausage all his life and it hadn't hurt him any. "Well, doctors say—" I tried weakly. "DOCTORS . . .!!!" Elmer began what promised to be another extensive exposition of his views.
Elmer told me that he was 79 and that he had had the same doctor for thirty years. Elmer said he had very little use for doctors. Elmer seemed to have very little use for many things, doctors, the Food and Drug Administration, television, Democrats . . .
By the way, had I seen that girl on TV who alleged Bill Clinton had raped her? What did I think? "Umm, well, I dunno . . ." I began, edging away.
Elmer interrupted and told me he was 79 years old and had never seen such a disgraceful president. How dreadful, and the government was in a terrible state. All those bureaucrats, and the FDA, and those television doctors who scare everybody over perfectly good sausage . . . Why, if those doctors knew anything they'd hang out a shingle instead of being on TV . . . What is the world coming to? In all his 79 years it seemed Elmer had never seen the planet in such a sorry state.
I don't remember how I finally escaped Elmer's clutches, though I recall it was not easy. Then again, what does it matter? Okay, so he took ten minutes of my life that I will never see again. I'm still young, I can spare it. Elmer, after all, was not a bad guy, just a talkative one. Anyway, perhaps a chance to earn karma in the grocery store isn't such an awful thing. Who knows, someday, I may need it. Maybe around the year 2055, when some yet-to-be-born twenty-three-year-old college student, is forced to listen politely to the opinionated meanderings of another old coot, while wishing he was somewhere else . . .