It's been raining all day here in this small corner of the second largest country on the planet...drizzle at first this morning but a drab, persistent downpour by lunchtime. My delightful wife and I, having done our duty by the dog and followed him around some woodland for a some time, pretending that he was really doing what we wanted him to do, decided to lift our spirits by going out for lunch. She is having her midweek day off from work and I am taking a break (no ironic laughter at the back please!) from writing to enjoy her company. So far so good; the weather never significantly affects our mood or our mutual preference to be alongside one another.
So with the dog having been fed after his walk and left with a bone to worry while we went out to seek our own nourishment, we headed off into the rain in our big shiny truck to a local establishment which specializes in 'British' tea room style fare. It's not actually very close to the mark but it's the closest thing of its kind to us, and they have pork pies, so it's a done deal once the idea occurs to either of us. The pork pie thing may not resonate with non-Brits, but trust me; it's an addiction for life. I've written an essay on the phenomenon called "The Call of The Pie". Actually I haven't yet, but since the idea has only just occurred to me, I may just go for it.
Where was I? Oh yes - off we went to the tea room for a light lunch and a shared pot of tea, with the added prospect of buying a pork pie or two and some cans of British baked beans (for addictions to Heinz baked beans from England, see: 'Pork Pie') to bring home. Upon our arrival, however, our hopes were dashed as we found the store unexpectedly closed - although come to think of it; if we had expected it to be closed, we'd have been a bit silly making our way there regardless...Anyway, with no room at the inn, we chose another small eatery in a nearby town. This little cafe was (and by Jove still is!) decorated and themed around the 1950s diner style. We partook of simple but filling food (I still wanted a pork pie) and while in the neighbourhood decided to visit a local supermarket for the food shopping we planned.
Because it is a good distance from our home, we very rarely use this particular store, however a change is a good as a...change...I suppose. So far things, while not exactly as we had foreseen, were going smoothly.
The dark side of the force began to exert its influence, however, as we emerged from the store into the rainy parking lot. As we walked quickly with our shopping cart/trolley towards the truck, pulling those universal "I don't like the rain hitting my face" expressions (in other words contorting our features into something resembling crumpled socks), I saw my nemesis...*cue intimidating brass fanfare*
As I approached I could see the owner of the car carefully and painstakingly loading shopping (or was it a body?) into the trunk with all the speed and urgency of a retreating glacier. The driver's door and associated panel of electric switches had also been left open and exposed in the pouring rain; clearly we were dealing with a master (note to self: never buy a car with the description "One careful older owner"). The man, aged approximately 82 years, was tall, thin, wore glasses and a fixed expression of disgust. In short, (by virtue of a rapid profiling exercise) he was a 'Gimmer'.
Gimmer: (n) A male - usually of Caucasian European ancestry - who, having attained the age of at least seventy years, decides that the world owes him a great deal, and thereafter becomes disenchanted by anybody who is, or appears to be, younger than himself. Prone to sudden and meaningless outbursts of vowel sounds, Gimmers will deliberately take inordinate amounts of time to accomplish the simplest of tasks in order to inconvenience others; examples include: using public toilets, paying at store registers, speaking with bank cashiers and deciding whether or not to cross the street in front of stopped traffic.
We loaded our truck and returned the cart and still the old man plodded around with the dynamism of a tectonic plate, probably 'enjoying' the fact that he was about to play his trump card. Shaking off the rain, we got into our truck and started the engine. The rain and cold had caused the truck to mist up on the inside, and so I decided to wait until the old man had finished loading his car and moved out of the way, thereby making it unnecessary for me to reverse in the rain and darkening conditions - merely a matter of convenience. However...as the mist began to slowly clear from the screen in front of me, I was able to watch the Emperor of the Gimpire as he finished loading his vehicle, abandoned the cart just far enough away from the cart rack to be annoying, returned to his 1973 Oldsmobuick Roadhog and slowly - ever so slowly - lowered himself into the plush velour of the driver's armchair.
I don't know what happened - I don't know exactly when the testosterone kicked in or why, all I know is that I found myself whispering savagely "I'm going to beat him!" "You what?" said my wife. "I'm going to out-Gim the Gimmer!" I shouted with a surge of adrenalin I didn't know I still had within me. Suddenly it seemed important that HE should be the one to move his vehicle first. Suddenly it had become essential that I should be the one to inconvenience someone of HIS generation for a change - that the middle aged should win one! I settled down to wait; I had the perfect excuse - the windows of my truck were yet to clear, but I could see that his car was not steamed up, and that he was free to leave. It wasn't safe for me to reverse out of there, I needed to stay put; he had no excuse. I rubbed my hands with a sense of glee.
Five minutes later and with a growing sense of horror, however, I looked on as he sat completely still, gazing - apparently - at his crotch. Just when I had convinced myself that he had either died or lapsed into a deep, comfortable sleep, he seemed to stir and reach into his pocket. Another thirty seconds later, he finally produced a set of keys from his pocket, and settled down to look at them, as if for the first time. Two minutes later, the sweat was beginning to roll down my brow; he was STILL looking at his darned keys! He knew what he was doing, of course; he had picked up my intentions on his Gimdar, and was now bringing to bear the full power of the Gim side of The Force against us.
My wife pleaded with me; "Let's just go, please! before it's too late!" with a rising sound of panic in her voice, but I was determined. "NO!" I said, resolutely "THIS is PERSONAL!". She looked at me as if not recognizing who I had become; "Please, let's just get out of here!" she wailed, but I was committed, my eyes were locked upon my foe, the gauntlet had been thrown down and picked up; there was no backing down. This was about my very manhood, about everything my life had been leading up to, about my life's mission. I was going to take this Gimmer down...
Ten minutes later, crying like a baby, I put the truck in reverse as the old master continued counting the indicator lights on his gear selector, and drooled calmly into his lap. I was beaten and I knew it. Sobs racked my body as I forlornly checked my mirrors and slowly, painfully backed away from the rusted grille of the '73 Roadhog. "I'm sorry my darling." I said between my pitiful cries, and to her credit my wife patted me on the shoulder and spoke the cold, but honest truth. "You never stood a chance, my love, you were punching above your weight. It was over before it began.". She was, of course, 100% correct; I'd been a fool to even try to out-Gim an experienced Gimmer. I have more than twenty years to wait before I reach that level of expertise, and taking on such a practised proponent of the art was nothing short of foolhardy.
I shall not be making the same mistake again - I speak to you now as a broken husk of a man, a man for whom the night holds terrors until I can rebuild the scaffold of my self belief and confidence. Please send good thoughts my way...I need all the help I can get right now...
Beware- learn from my mistake, lest you be faced with the image of triumph I observed as I pulled out of the parking lot, my spirit broken. One final glance back confirmed my worst fears: he knew, and was watching my pathetic retreat thus: