We were in the Wal Mart store on the northside looking for something to give to my friends grand daughter for her birthday. My friend, Ellis, had talked me into going with him because he wasn’t very good at shopping. The last time it fell on him to buy a gift he gave a bottle of scotch and a set of shot glasses to Toys for Tots. The Marine watching over the toy bin smiled widely and told him thank you. From then on his wife insisted he have someone along to kibitz. Ellis had gravitated over to the sports section and was eyeing the shotguns lined up in the glass case. “A girl should have some manly interests,” he declared. “Ah course, a little self protection don’t hurt none either.”
“Jesus, Ellis,” I said, “she’s only four.”
“Well, a 4-10 like that little bugger there shouldn’t be too much for her, don’t ya think?” I looked at the shotgun and found myself thinking that it was pretty light, and kind of cute. If I was going to give Dick Cheney a shotgun, that’d be the one I picked. But I herded him off toward the aisle with rows and rows of Barbie dolls. I told him to check things out and see if he saw something there he liked while I went over to the housewares section to find a new colander. My wife had a plastic framed one that got too close to a stove burner so we had to park it in a handicap zone if we wanted to use it anymore.
I wandered around looking at all the stuff and it took me about ten minutes to finally get to the display that had colanders. I chose a nice stainless steel one that was on sale for $1.39 and headed back over to the toy section to find Ellis and see what he picked out. There was a crowd of people huddled at the Barbie aisle and I could hear loud and unhappy voices coming from the center of the pack. I pried myself through and found Ellis being held firmly by what I assumed was a store dick. The guy I figured was a cop was telling Ellis in no uncertain terms that undressing the dolls and holding them up to passing female shoppers wasn’t going to cut the mustard. “I was tryin’ to see if they was to scale!” he protested to his captor. I backed away letting the crowd fill in to hide me but Ellis saw me and called me over.
“Uh, what’s going on?” I asked. The guy hanging on to Ellis identified himself as store security and asked me if I was with Ellis. “Well, I know him. What’s the problem?”
“Your buddy here was accosting women.”
“I was not!” Ellis protested. “I was just comparison shopping. What’s wrong with that?”
“He was comparing the dolls, er, breasts to those of women shoppers.” said the store detective.
“That’s comparing isn’t it? Wal Mart says to compare their merchandise on their ads.” said Ellis.
I said “Oh, Christ.”
“He said the dolls were a lot firmer.” injected the cop.
I said “Oh, Christ.”
“We might have to arrest him for lewd behavior and assaulting customers.”
“Jeez, did he, um, uh, you know, grab anything –one?”
“Well, no.” Allowed the security guy.
“Well, it’s not exactly fair to accuse him of assault if he didn’t touch anybody.” I said. “But I guess I have to give you the one on lewd behavior. Suppose I just take him somewhere. You know, get him out of the store.” The security guy pulled a walkie talkie from his belt and said something about having a two-twenty one on sixteen and asked for a supervisor.
“I can’t make that choice,” he replied. “But I got the security manager on the way.” He turned and started to shoo the glut of rubberneckers away. “Go on now, there’s nothing to see here.”
I looked back towards Ellis and noticed a small pile of naked dolls on one of the display shelves and wished I was in Afghanistan. We waited a minute or so and then a man in a business suit came striding up. The store dick told Ellis to stay put and stepped off to whisper back and forth with the manager guy. He pointed to Ellis a couple of times while they spoke, and then said something and pointed to me. The manager glared at me like I was suspect too. I smiled and waved, forgetting about the colander in my hand which bumped into the shelf knocking a number of dolls to the floor. I sighed and turned to pick them up. The cop and the manager guy came back over and told me to leave it and to please just leave the store and for God’s sake, take Ellis with me.
Out in the car Ellis took an attitude. “They had no call to do that to me.” he said. “It’s not like I done something wrong. He reached into his pants and yanked out a doll. “But I got me a gift for my grand daughter.” he grinned. At least it was still dressed I thought to myself. I vowed to myself I would never go shopping with Ellis again.
“Jeez, Ellis. You stole a doll?”
“Well, we come here for a present,” he said. “I figured I had it coming what with them embarrassing me like that.”
“You’re lucky they didn’t search you. They’d chuck you in jail, man. And me with as an accessory.”
“Well, you didn’t pay for that colander.”
I realized I was still holding it and he was right. I looked back towards the store and saw the security dick looking at our car. I put it in gear and drove away. “I don’t think I want to go shopping with you anymore.” I told Ellis.
“I was just thinking the same thing.” he said. “You’re nothin but trouble.”