World’s Greatest Boyfriend

     Even the world’s greatest boyfriend has a limit.
     I believe I have found that limit.
     Here’s what happened.
     I lugged the goods home from the grocery store the other day and as I unbagged them, Jane asked if I’d remembered to buy her the new Martha Stewart magazine.
     “Oops,” I said.
     Jane looked disappointed. “It’s full of recipes,” she said.
     “I’ll go back and get it for you, sweetie,” I said.
     “You don’t have to do that,” Jane said.
     I insisted. “I want to,” I said.
     It was true. I am the world’s greatest boyfriend.
     As I left, I told Jane, “You should have seen Hannaford’s. Everybody in it was a baby.”
     Jane looked shocked. “Even the people behind the counters?”
     “No, no,” I said. “Everyone there was like an old grandma with a baby. There must have been 20 of them. I never saw so many babies.”
     So. I drove back to Hannaford’s – 3 miles on a winter’s day.
     It looked like someone had dropped a movie set on the place: “Invasion From Planet Crack House.” Everyone in there looked like he was hiding out from warrants.
     I had nothing to buy except Martha Stewart. I had already done the shopping, right?
     So I grabbed Martha from the rack. The February issue. The one with a pink cover, totally given over to a big pink heart, outlined with frilly lace.
     I got in line behind a ratty-looking guy with a furtive look and a Fu Manchu mustache that hung 6 inches below his chin. I am not kidding. He looked like a goddam Venetian blind.
     A 300-pound pockmarked guy with a 5-day beard stepped in line behind me. He had a 30-pack of beer in one meaty hand and a 12-pack of Lite beer in the other. For his kids, I suppose.
     I know that 5-day beards are all the rage in fashion photographs these days, in Vogue and whatnot, but believe me, you ain’t gonna see this guy in Vogue. It was 6 degrees out, and he was wearing a T-shirt and a vile old vest that looked like he’d ripped it off the buffalo and put it on as is.
     I stood between these guys, clutching my “Martha Stewart Living.”
     A new checkout woman had come on. She had a mustache too.
     I am not making any of this up.
     I stood in line between these guys, clutching Martha to my chest, while derelicts roamed the aisles, grabbing cans of Sterno, or suet, or God knows what.
     The fat guy reached around me and plopped down the little separator thing, behind the Venetian blind guy’s stuff. That meant I was supposed to put my things down.
     I didn’t want to, but the fat man was hoisting 504 ounces of beer. Obviously, he wanted me to put my stuff down, so he could unload his 31½ pounds of beer.
     So I lay “Martha Stewart Living” gently onto the little conveyor belt.
     The one with the pink cover.
     “It’s not for me,” I said. “It’s for my girlfriend.”
     That made no impression upon my gigantic friend.
     “She made me take her to the gay cowboy movie too,” I said.
     That made no impression either.
     So. I bought Martha Stewart and took it home to Jane. On my broad, brawny back.
     Two days later, as I write this, snug in my lonely room, Jane is in the kitchen, whipping up swordfish steaks in fennel sauce.
     So let’s have no backchat.

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