Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em. They might be family dinners on special occasions, or having a particular kind of cake on your birthday (Jeanne Cake, natch), or popcorn at the movies, or meeting your friend for a 5k run in the park, rain or shine, every Sunday morning. What are your favorite traditions, large and small? What is it about your traditions that keep them going strong for you?
Lisa stopped at Garden Liquors on her way to work. She always stopped at Garden Liquors on her way to work. It was part of her routine. Kind of a “tradition”. She parked in front and ran the gauntlet of teenagers hanging out there. Mel wouldn’t let more than two kids in the store at a time. There was always a line of teenagers ‘cause Mel didn’t check ID’s when selling tobacco products. He wouldn’t sell them alcohol without an ID but tobacco was OK with him. They were going to get it anyway. He figured he might as well get the business. It was better than having them go across the street to the “Circle 11”.
Lisa moved through the store to the cooler and selected a prepackaged tuna salad sandwich. Tuna salad on wheat was her traditional lunch. Last week, Wednesday, she bought chicken salad. The tuna was sold out. Last Wednesday had not been a good day.
She took the sandwich to the cash register and Mel reached back for a one pint bottle of Peach Schnapps. He set it on the counter next to her sandwich and said, “Morning Lisa. How’s your day starting?”
“You know Mel, I think today’s going to be a good day” she replied. She was rummaging through her purse and finally pulled out the lottery ticket she had bought last week. “Can you check this for me, Mel? And, I need another one too.”
She looked longingly at the bottle of Schnapps, admiring the picture of the sliced peach on the label. Mel always made sure that they kept it stocked for her. She recognized that the economics of buying her Schnapps in a one pint bottle did not make good sense. A larger bottle would have saved her money, lots of money, since she bought one a day. But, the one pint bottle was easier to hide in her purse and her desk drawer. It also simplified the surreptitious sipping that ensured she could make it through each day at the office with the insufferable Mr. Sullivan.
She kept the big bottle at home. She bought those at Costco. She didn’t care if Ralph knew she was drinking. She really needed to drink at home. She needed that comfortable “peachy glow” to allow her to endure the incessant, inane ramblings of that miserable SOB, she was married to.
Mel finished ringing up her purchases, “You wanted another lotto ticket, right Lisa?”
“That’ll be eleven dollars and 35 cents,” Mel said. He scooped up her ticket and stepped to the lotto machine.
Lisa put a ten and a five on the counter, looked at the two kids waiting behind her to buy cigarettes.
“Holy shit,” Mel said. “Holy shit, Lisa, the machine says you won. The machine says you just won 56 million dollars. Lisa! Holy shit, you won!”
“Holy shit,” Lisa echoed. “What do I do?”
Mel threw two packs of smokes at the kids. “You guys get out of here,” he said. Then he grabbed a carton, escorted those two to the door, tossed the carton out to the other teenagers, “On the house today,” and locked the door.
He came back and walked Lisa through the details and logistics of being a lotto winner, shook her hand, gave her change for the sandwich and Peach Schnapps, congratulated her again and walked her to the door. He handed her the paper bag with the pint and the sandwich, shook her hand again, and sent her on her way. Returning to the counter, Mel was smiling. He was back in business.
Lisa sat in her car for a minute or two and gathered her thoughts. Then she started it up and drove straight home. Ralph was sitting on the couch in his tighty whities, watching some “good morning” gossip show masquerading as news.
“Pack your bags Ralph, I just won the lottery”
“Huh? Are you kiddin’?”
Lisa picked up the phone and called her office. “Mr. Sullivan? Hi, this is Lisa. I’m not going to make it to the office today. In fact I quit. I’m not going to ever make it to the office again.” She placed the phone back on the cradle.
“Ralph, why aren’t you packing?”
“You’re not kidding?” He said, “Where should I pack for? Where are we going?” What should I pack?”
“I don’t care what you pack Ralph. Just get out. It’s a tradition in my family. When a woman wins the lottery, she boots her lazy-ass husband to the curb. Why are you still here?”
That’s my take on an old joke.
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