Play Time

GOIN’ FOR A RIDE
(© 2013 by Michael J. Cahill)

Goin’ for a ride in a shopping cart
And I’m sure Mom will think it’s all right.
I’m goin’ for a ride in a shopping cart
And my brother, Chris, he’s gonna drive.

We’ll take some quick lefts and a last minute right
Then a screech and a spin and a slide.
Then, in the meat section, Chris’ll build up momentum
And hop on to join in the ride.

Now we’ll just miss the canned goods,
Zoom past the vegetables, bargains, and cash-saving deals.
When we get near the eggs, we’ll just hang out our legs
And ’round the corner we’ll go on two wheels.

What a wonderful rush as we pass the Orange Crush
And the Cracker Jacks, oatmeal, and Pop Tarts —
As the customers stare at and point at and glare at
Two grown men… riding aisles… in a shopping cart.

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Shopping.Cart

There’s nothing quite like bending the rules well beyond anything that was intended. I personally consider it a mortal sin to relegate to the realm of toddlers and pre-teens all our youthful, wide-eyed wonder about how the world around us works. When was the last time you saw a truly enthusiastic grown up behaving with truly enthusiastic enthusiasm?

I’m not suggesting you sacrifice your maturity. But some of the most mature grown ups I know are unabashedly blessed with a playful nature despite the strictures of many social standards.

I remember in 1989 when I was Christmas shopping and got thrown out of a Toys R Us in Houston. They had these miniature shopping carts for toddlers. One-third scale versions of the real thing and solid metal. Really cool. I couldn’t resist. I put one on each foot and started roller-skating up and down the aisles. The 9-year-olds who had watched me were grinning as I was escorted out. I could tell they liked the idea and, sure enough, a couple minutes later as I was getting in my car, these same kids were being strong-armed out the front door by security. I gave them a thumbs up and they smiled and fired back their own.

No laws were broken and no lives endangered. Yes, I realized the irresponsible nature of such a potentially dangerous example. But it was a calculated risk on my part. For instance, had my four-year-old daughter been with me at the time, I absolutely would not have set such an example. But adolescent boys — hell, yes. I had been one myself some 30 years before and I knew a fun idea when I saw one. Plus I always had extra energy and used to be a stunt man in my 20’s.

Something I’ve always recognized, especially early on, was that most people just need more genuine fun in their lives. I know everyone thinks they want it, but they truly don’t realize how much they absolutely need it.

To this day, whenever I’m in the furniture section of a department store, I still take a running start, jump as high as I can, and land butt first in the middle of a display bed. If a 20-year-old did that, people would just be annoyed. But I’m 58 and folks are actually impressed. It’s incredibly fun. And it never fails to turn heads. Those mattresses have to be checked out, you know. Who better to do it than a potential customer? If the bedding is soft and the point of impact provides suitable resistance, I might just ask them to wrap that sucker up for me. Hey, you don’t buy a car without test driving it. Furniture should be held to the same strict standards.

In 1983 when my wife and I moved to Houston, Hurricane Alisha had us trapped in our 2nd floor apartment for four days with heavy rains and flooding. Our front door faced the parking lot on the inside curve of a horseshoe shaped building and on the third day the wind had died down quite a bit. None of the plumbing or electricity worked and all the residents were out on their porches watching each other try to cool off in the sticky humidity. We were all miserable and sick of the rain.

That’s when I noticed that rainwater was just pouring out the holes in the gutters where the drain pipes had been blown out. I ran inside, stripped down to a pair of cutoffs, grabbed the soap and shampoo, and headed down the steps to the flooded parking lot. My wife at the time knew me well enough to be automatically mortified without any idea what I was up to.

I stepped into the nearest downspout deluge, lathered up and started scrubbing. My wife of course was utterly humiliated with all the neighbors watching me take a shower. She went inside and stayed there.

It wasn’t a full minute before a dozen other residents took my lead and lined up at the other downspout waterfalls to take their own showers. Hey, a good idea is a good idea and none of us had bathed in three days. It just made perfect sense to me. And, damn, that shower felt good!

I’m a pragmatist at heart and if something makes good, simple sense to me then I’m all over it. And if it happens to amuse and entertain the odd passer by, then all the better. One thing I’ve observed with some consistency in my life — people will never cease to be amused by their fellow man caught in the act of simply being their fellow man.

MORAL: Be an advocate of your own fun. Never leave it up to others.

When you get a chance to ride that shopping cart, just be safe, hold on tight, and make the management give you at least three warnings before you thank them with a polite smile and leave. Trust me, even the most humorless and overworked shift manager will be dying to tell everyone she knows about some idiot cart-surfing in the frozen foods section. Plus you’ll have brightened her day a bit as well. Everybody wins.

Or, at the very least,…….. you win.

And that’s all that really matters in the end.

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6 thoughts on “Play Time

  1. Michael, I would’ve loved to have been “a fly on the wall” in that Toys R Us and see you do this. I’m sure despite the reaction you received from management, those employees had to admire your spunk and creativity, as well as the teenage boys who were watching. Seize the moment! A very enjoyable read!

  2. Thank you for that mental picture 🙂 I have those huge dinsosaur claw shoes that you wear at home when its cold. I go out shopping with them . I love how people react and point and whisper . I am also known to dance with them along the aisle . Life is too dullif you have no fun 🙂

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