I have spent a snow-filled morning chasing wild geese.
Don't think Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a newly-dedicated ornithologist. She has been chasing the elusive kind of goose. Might as well make her squat down in the dark woods holding a gunny sack and tell her to wait for a snipe to run into it.
The trip to town was meant to be a sortie to the dead-mouse-smelling post office, and a mission to capture a wild 44 oz. Diet Coke. But the #1 son had other ideas. He found it befitting that his very own personal shopper venture farther afield. Twice as far, in fact, to obtain the elusive tennis ball. Did you know that tennis balls are not carried by Save A Lot, Country Mart, or the Dollar Store? Not even by the gas station chicken store. I know that comes as a complete surprise. I'm sure city people can step out the door and find a tennis ball shop on every corner. Not so here in Hillmomba.
Mrs. HM had her trusty Pony in tow. A Pony capable of dashing through The Devil after being dropped at the door, picking up a can of balls, paying cash, and homing in on T-Hoe in the parking lot. Simple enough. Except when #1 is called to inform him of the mission, and he replies that he also needs a meter stick. What's with that boy? He suddenly needs balls AND a stick?
Do you know where to find a meter stick? Europe, perhaps? Oh, gloat about it, city people. I'm sure there are meter stick stores in the middle of every block, keeping the tennis ball shops from running together. But here in Hillmomba, meter sticks are yardsticks, and yardsticks are given away free at lumberyards for advertising purposes. I have never seen a yard/meter stick without advertising upon its narrow back. And front. This was not a mission to spring upon The Pony. He of minimal interaction with members of his species.
I parked. A surprising number of people seek The Devil on New Year's Eve in a blizzard. I suppose they require bread and milk for their New Year's celebrations this evening. T-Hoe was tethered over halfway up the parking aisle. The Devil has a stunningly large investment in real estate.
So...have you formulated and answer yet? About where to find a meter stick? The office supply section, you think? No. Hardware? No. Lumber? Ahem. We are at The Devil's Playground, not Lowe's. There is no lumber at the Playground. Because Mrs. HM knew that she would be combing The Devil's maze for these items, she called #1 and told him to get on the phone to The Devil's people, and ask if they harbored meter sticks, and in what department. She then dispatched The Pony to sporting goods for the tennis balls. She made a beeline for rulers. A meter stick IS just a big, overgrown ruler, right?
A meter stick in office supplies? No dice. And no meter stick. Luckily #1 called back. He was indignant. "It took me FIVE people to figure out what a metric system even WAS! And finally some lady in Fabrics said they have one." Well. As you can imagine, my cold, cold heart bled for put-upon #1. How hard it must have been for him in the warmth of his room, sitting in his cushy office chair, in his sock feet, Facebooking, to Google The Devil's number, punch it in his phone, and wait while being transferred from one clerk to another. Oh, how hard it must have been to explain five times the description of a meter stick. And its uses!
I headed to Fabrics. Looked up and down the aisles. Stumbled upon a frazzled fabric-cutter. And inquired about a meter stick. "Yes. We have one right over here, Honey." She led me to it. Slipped it off its hook, hidden against the back of the pegboard, one of only two in stock. I thanked her and placed it in my cart, next to the can of tennis balls The Pony had just deposited, having searched aisle by aisle to find me after discovering me AWOL from office supplies. That meter stick promptly slipped through the wire lattice of the cart. The Pony grabbed it for me.
"Um. This is NOT a meter stick. It is only thirty-six inches long. I'm sure a meter stick is longer than that. This one only goes to ninety-one centimeters. A meter stick should have one hundred centimeters."
"Well, it is clearly marked with centimeters. It will have to do. That's the best we're gonna get around here."
"But technically, #1 asked for a meter stick. And this is not a meter stick. It's a yardstick. A meter stick has one hundred centimeters. It's longer."
"OKAY! Can we just drop it now? Let's go pay."
A terrible tragedy had occurred during our shopping. The speaker system called for a housekeeping associate to report to the liquor aisle. Oh, the humanity! Also, a call was made for checkers to report to the front. Uh huh. Lines were even longer than normal. We were not our usual seventh in line. Plus, an old lady behind me stepped up and interrupted right before I was to put my two items on the short checkout counter. She asked if, even though she and her husband had way more than twenty items in their cart, could they check out here. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? The poor checker agreed. I'm sure they're forbidden to forbid extra items.
When we arrived home, after taking an alternate Hillmomba route, due to snow cover on our regular blacktop pig trail, the #1 son welcomed us with open arms. All right. That's a lie. He took one look at the merchandise we risked our lives for, and said,
"That's not a meter stick."