I ran into a friend in the supermarket yesterday. Actually he ran into me. Al was reading a small slip of paper when he accidentally bumped into me with his cart in the canned goods aisle. “Sorry,” he said. “I was trying to decipher my wife’s handwriting on her grocery list and I can’t make out this one item. I think ‘bark chips’ means ‘pork chops’ and ‘little beads’ are most likely ‘lentil beans’, but maybe ‘mero toons’ is not actually a garble.”
“Sounds like cookies,” I said. “Let’s ask that clerk who’s shelving cans.”
“Mero toons? Never heard of them, but I’m a canned goods guy. Hey Stanley, where do we keep the mero toons?” he shouted to an associate.
“I think that might be in Aisle 8 next to the taco meals,” Stanley replied.
We found no mero toons in Aisle 8 and an assistant manager there wasn’t much help.
“Could be a new snack item, ” he said. “But I don’t think it was in our last ad. Nobody tells me anything.”
The courtesy desk manager tried a computer search using five or six spelling variations. “It’s not even in our warehouse,” he said. “Who wrote this list?”
“My wife,” Al replied.
“Let’s try a female reading then,” he said and handed the list to his assistant. “See the mero toons item, Ethel? Is that a misspelling of something else?”
” Mero toons ? That’s not mero toons. That’s ‘mushrooms’ as plain as the nose on your face,” Ethel said and handed the list back for three befuddled guys to gape at.
“So, Al, ” I said later, “it was apparently written in a female gender code, but why didn’t you call your wife in the first place?”
“I knew she wasn’t home and I didn’t want to interrupt her at her new senior study class.”
“What is she studying?”