The woman in the checkout aisle is small, white-haired. Her cart is full, mounding with Gatorade, Cheetos, and ice cream sandwiches.

I love ice cream sandwiches.

She is bent at the waist, her joints are as thin as number-two pencils. She is struggling to push her cart.

I offer to unload her buggy. She thanks me and says, “Aren’t you a sweet little Boy Scout?”

A comedian, this lady.

If I am lucky enough to see old age, I will be a comedian.

She’s out of breath, leaning on her basket. If I didn't know any better, I'd guess her back is killing her.

“My grandkids are coming to town this week,” she says. “Wanna make sure they have enough food.”

This explains the Mountain Dew, the Goldfish, and the ice cream sandwiches.

We talk. Grandma is friendly. No. She is perfect. Dressed to the nines, hair fixed. It is nine in the morning, she is bearing pearls and ruby lipstick.

She is the American grandmother. Nineteen hundred and fifty-nine, frozen in time. The kind of woman whose lifelong occupation is

to keep stomachs full while wearing matching blouse and shoes.

When the cashier finishes scanning, the old woman thanks me. I offer to take her groceries to the car. She tries to pay me.

No ma'am. I’d rather sell my soul to Doctor Phil for thirty pieces of silver than take your money.

I roll her cart toward the parking lot. She holds the buggy’s side.

I suggest she grab my arm. She does, and for a moment, I am ten-foot tall and Kevlar.

She has an economy Ford. The trunk is tiny. I have an idea: I ask her to let me follow her home and unload her groceries.

It’s too much. Too personal, too fast. This embarrasses her.

“No thanks,” she says. “I’ll have my grandkids unload when they get here tomorrow. My grandkids, they’re visiting me…

Help me. I am going to die. I’m not sure how exactly I got locked in this bathroom, it all happened so fast. I can’t remember much.

All I know is that we are staying in a rental house for the weekend. It’s an old home that was built back before the Babylonians discovered WiFi. My wife went into town to go shopping and I chose to stay home because I would rather be stabbed in the thigh with a BIC pen than go shopping.

Anyway, I was in the bathroom and when I tried to turn the doorknob to open the door the knob snapped off.

Thus, I am trapped without food or technology. I’m shouting for help, but my wife is long gone and the cleaning lady isn’t due for another several hours.

The gravity of this nightmare finally hits me all at once. I am stuck in this tiny hellhole without access to the outside world. I will never see the sunshine again. They will find my body covered in cobwebs. The coroner

will shake his head and say, “Looks like he got so hungry he ate a bar of soap and choked.”

Also, my cellphone is in the other room. This means no texts, no calls, and—here is the worst part—no Scrabble.

I am officially dead.

Scrabble has always been my game of choice. It was my grandmother’s favorite game, my mother’s favorite game, and it is the only game I voluntarily play. Unless of course I am in Biloxi, in which case I voluntarily visit the roulette table and play Let’s Set Fire To All Sean’s Twenties.

If someone were to ever put a competitive Scrabble table in the Beau Rivage Casino, I would have to reverse mortgage my house.

I play Scrabble every day on my smartphone. I keep ten or twelve games going at a time. I don’t want to toot my own…

She has a box of to-go food in her hands. I overhear the man at the barbecue joint counter say she is missing two pounds of brisket.

The man apologizes to the people in line, then he tells her it will be coming right up.

“Don’t forget extra sauce,” she calls out. “The sauce is for my son, he’s a Dipper.”

Well, I can relate. I’m a Dipper, too. If it can be dipped, I dip it. French fries, for example, were designed by God to be ketchup delivery vehicles. Don’t even get me started on salads. My salads consist of a single sprig of lettuce with nine cups of ranch dressing.

She looks at me and apologizes for holding up the line at the counter.

The woman is about seventy, I’d guess. Maybe a little older. White hair. Slim. She takes care of herself. She’s wearing workout gear.

I don’t know what she’s doing in the to-go lane of a greasy barbecue joint. Usually, people who exercise a lot don’t openly consume cholesterol in public smokehouses. It just doesn’t fit

the health-and-fitness thing.

Seeing someone like her in here feels like seeing a Church of Christ preacher at the blackjack table sipping a whiskey sour.

“You ordered a lot of barbecue,” I say because I have a gift for pointing out the obvious.

“Oh, it’s for my son,” she says. “He LOVES barbecue, and so does his fiance, and they’re gonna need something for their road trip. Something that will hold them, they leave tonight.”

And we are knee-deep in a conversation. Her son and his fiance are driving toward Canada tonight. She’s staying behind to watch his kids.

“My son’s getting married this weekend,” she goes on. “They’re doing a private ceremony, just the two of them, way up in Canada.”

She tells me the Canadian province where they’re traveling. It is a French word, but I won’t…


It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I like this girl who is my friend, but I want to be more. I don’t want to say anything to her because if I do I’m afraid it will end our friendship if she doesn’t feel the same way, and I don’t want to lose her as a friend.



Before I say anything, remember that I know Jack Squat about this subject. Thus, whatever else you read here will likely be about as valuable as a screen door on a submarine.

But here’s the deal. I don’t think things will go back to normal no matter what you do. Even if you never told her how you feel, things are probably already getting weird between you two. And trust me, they are about to get weirder if you open your mouth.

But I still think you ought to say something to her. Before you do, however, maybe ask yourself a few questions:

Such as, what happens if she doesn’t like you THAT way? How

will you feel when she starts dating Brad Pitt? And she WILL date Brad Pitt, they always date Brad Pitt. Will seeing her with him kill your confidence? Will you forever look into your mirror and see “Fatty” Arbuckle staring back at you?

Well, I can almost answer this question for you. And the answer is: “Who the heck is Fatty Arbuckle?”

I’m speaking from experience here. When I was younger, I was friends with a girl who, for the purposes of this column, I will call—oh, I don’t know—Medusa.

Medusa was very pretty; I was young. She considered me her lovable little pal. To her, I was sort of like Raggedy Andy, only less attractive. She gave me butterflies in my stomach. And I mistakenly thought she felt butterflies, too. But come to find out she was only feeling gas pains. Seriously.…

I got a letter from Phillip in Sacramento, California, who asked an important question. And by “important,” I mean life-or-death important:

“Sean, which brands of mayonnaise do Southerners like best?”

I immediately spotted the small error in his question. And if you live in the same part of the world as I do, you probably spotted it too.

Phillip’s question suggests that there is more than one acceptable mayonnaise brand. But there is not.

There is only one officially approved mayonnaise of the Southern Baptist Convention. This mayonnaise comes in a jar with a yellow lid and it is the secret to living a rich, satisfying life.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I say anything else, please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t intend to be critical of other people’s mayonnaise choices. I would never do that. Just because you and I don’t see eye to eye on mayonnaise doesn’t mean that I think you are a communist. It simply means that you have strong tendencies toward communism.

So I don’t know much about Sacramento, but I’ve

heard that grocery stores out West don’t carry the yellow-lid brand I mentioned earlier. This is a shame.

Then again, I suppose that mayonnaise probably isn’t part of Sacramento’s historical heritage the way it is here.

Early Californian pioneers probably had WAY more important things to worry about like taming the Western frontier, building sod huts, droughts, and surviving destructive Grateful Dead concerts. Whereas our ancestors in the Southeast were primarily concerned with perfecting our congealed salad recipes.

Still, I’ll bet that Sacramento is probably like many cities. The stores probably sell many jars that LOOK like mayo. But don’t be fooled. Even though these jars appear to be filled with mayonnaise, the jars actually contain noxious commercial automotive lubricants.

I base this statement on a study conducted by a major university last year wherein scientific researchers discovered that most people in…

One of the first speaking gigs I ever had was in Dothan, Alabama. It was at the Houston County Public Library, and I did not want to be there.

At the time, I had been writing this column for a few years and had a couple books published. I had not done ANY public speaking. I was very worried that I’d make a fool of myself.

The fact is, I can always be counted on to make a moderate fool of myself. As a boy, for instance, my friend’s mother, Miss Martha, used to always tell me, “Think before you speak, Sean.” She was a cantankerous lady who was always saying this to me.

I had no idea what it meant at such a young age. After all, my usual policy was to think AFTER I spoke, when I had more free time available for reflection. But years later, I discovered what Miss Martha truly meant. She meant that I should shut up.

I wish Miss Martha would have

just come out and said that. It would have saved me a lot of embarrassment later in life. Because I wasn’t aware that she was absolutely right about me. My mouth did frequently make a fool out of me.

Like the one Sunday at church when I was supposed to read the scripture verse that would be the topic of the preacher’s sermon. A lay person always read the Bible verse before the preacher’s sermon and that week it was my turn.

My mother had written my verse on an index card and tucked it into a Bible so that all I had to do was open the Bible and read the bold letters on the card. But somehow I lost the card. And when I opened the Bible I had no idea where the verse and chapter were located. So I just read from the open page. It was Proverbs…

You’re a stay-at-home mother of three. And it’s going to be one of those days. You can tell.

You haven’t slept well for a few nights. You’ve got a perpetual low-grade headache. There are million things to do. The whole world rests on your shoulders.

How did motherhood happen? You wanted to be a writer once. You wanted to be a journalist, or a novelist. “Hah hah!” your brain often reminds you. “A writer! That’s a good one!”

You’re a soccer mom now. The laundry pile always grows. The dog always wants outside. Your husband always asks for clean underwear. And what in God's name are you going to have for supper tonight?

Supper. This question plagues your life like a recurring case of Bangkok Flu. “What’s for supper?” your kids are always asking. Sometimes, even strange neighborhood children appear from the shadows simply to ask this question. Occasionally you fantasize about setting fire to your house just to avoid this question.

Making dinner is not as easy as it sounds because it means you must

cook something EVERYONE loves. If you don’t, your children might refuse to eat and they might get so skinny that school teachers will alert Child Protective Services to haul you away because the word around school is that your kids are starting to look like refugee prisoners on a hunger strike.

And when the school counselor finally asks your child why he’s been losing weight, your son will simply burst into tears and says, “My mom always makes frozen lasagna!”

On second thought, Child Protective Services can have that child.

Speaking of kids. Their extra-curricular schedules get more complex every day. There’s volleyball practice. Baseball practice. Your youngest wants to go to her friend’s after-school party at the “ball pit.” Truthfully, you don’t even know what a ball pit is or whether it’s safe. So you pack her a turkey sandwich.

At the end…