The weather over our four day Easter long weekend was absolutely gorgeous. It was so nice that it was hard to remember that it was only the end of March. Bill and I, encouraged by the sunshine and the warmth, eagerly visited local nurseries and farm supply stores. I had planted quite a few bulbs and shrubs at the farm and now needed to repeat that in town. Each of us was armed with a coupon for a free bulb if we spend $15 at one particular garden centre. We spent an enjoyable hour or so, poking through the containers, the bare root trees, the bulb displays and the seed packages. We both bought a variety of items and claimed our “prize”. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I forgot to pick up some potting soil so Bill suggested we stop at Wal-Mart to get it.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart but, as has happened in many other places after Wal-Mart moved in, there are fewer and fewer local retailers left. We have one of those Wal-Mart Supercentres that sells everything from motor oil to carrots. Strangely, they were almost out of potting soil and only had a few bags of the premium type that I wasn’t interested in. Something else did capture my eye though. Nesting deck chairs. Colourful ones. Cheap. It just so happens I was in the market for new patio furniture after leaving the farm.
Bill had spied a few things he wanted too. I grabbed a shopping cart and we both put our individual purchases into it. It wasn’t clear to us if the cash tills at the garden end of the store were open so I hailed a young clerk and asked if they were. Indeed he told me, he had one of them open but had just stepped away to help another staff member. He quickly jumped over to the till and removed the closed sign. I had difficulty putting the chairs into the cart (it’s a big cart but not big enough) so the young man told me I could hold the chairs at his till and drive my truck right up to the doors afterward to load them.
Bill put his purchases through first and as is our little custom wherever we shop, we kibitz with each other and with the cashier as we’re going through. As Bill was paying and chatting with the cashier, I loaded my items on the belt without paying too much attention to what they were talking about. Then I heard the cashier say “this is going to be a little bit of an odd question”. I wasn’t sure if he was continuing a conversation with Bill but he looked right at me and asked “are you two a couple?” I could feel my face turn beet red. “Yes”, I said and quickly moved back to the chair display to collect the chairs I wanted. I heard the cashier then ask Bill how long we had been together for. “I don’t mind,” the cashier said, “I was just curious”.
I completed the transaction without any more fanfare and Bill stayed with our purchases while I left to drive my truck to the door. As we were loading, suddenly the cashier was there too. “I thought you said it was a big truck” he teased. Bill must’ve mentioned my truck to him. We had a brief chat about trucks, we thanked him and went on our way.
“I think he’s gay” I said to Bill as we were driving off. “Do you think so?” Bill seemed uncertain. “Yup, he was genuinely too interested in our arrangement and in chatting with us” I replied. I haven’t met many straight guys that intensely interested in gay relationships.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Bill and I have been a couple for so long and are so natural as a couple that we just appear to be a couple even if we can’t see it. Or, maybe it’s just a strange occurrence at Wal-Mart . . .