My Evening

hdtv-800pxLife’s ultimate question is: How can I achieve happiness?

Life’s ultimate answer is: remain easily entertained.

To that end, I spend my evenings in the pursuit of happiness wedged between a remote and a bottle of beer.

Most evenings, like last evening, follow a familiar script.

I click on PBS.

There a nice lady explains why I should contribute to public broadcasting.

Scratch that… 

She doesn’t explain, she scolds. I knew that look.  It is one that accuses me of being irresponsible.

Obviously she does not understood my situation. Here I am watching television while my wife slaves away in the kitchen. It is in moments like these that I am highly resistant to both scolding and responsibility.

Next I turn to TBS, hoping for a movie. Instead I get an infomercial.

There a perky young thing, a third my age, encourages me to work on my body.  I point to my recliner then my bottle of beer as proof that I am indeed working on my body. We just share different visions.

Finally I click over to NBC.

It takes a moment to figure out what is going on.  Apparently the premise of the show is to challenge ordinary people to navigate an obstacle course of large brightly colored objects for cash and prizes.

Now THAT is entertainment.

Talk about drama!  

I become enthralled as Barbara from Ohio teeters along a balance beam as the giant spokes of a wheel try to sweep her off. Can she make it to the other end? I fear she cannot. See how she wobbles? See how she flails her arms for balance?

The tension is too much for me.  I watch her ordeal through the cracks between my fingers.

But then….. she brilliantly stutter steps between the spokes and pirouettes onto a zip line platform.  This is her last obstacle!

She grabs the trolley and glides toward cash and prizes – but OH NO…


She tumbles off the line and splashes into a pool of water. No more Barbara, I feel sorry for her. We had a connection but it is time to move on.

“Greg?” My wife called from the kitchen.

I rarely respond to her first call because it takes a while to decompress from the drama of television. She needs to respect that.



“I need a few things from the store.”

“I can’t go.”

“Why not?”

“I want to find out if Mike from Montana makes it to the quarter finals,” I told her.

By now she is standing beside me. She snatches up my remote, clicks off the television and hands me a shopping list.

“It’s a re-run,” she says as she returns to the kitchen. “He bounces off the big red ball and falls into a vat of goo.”


I drive to town but I can’t get the show out of my head.

At the store, a host greets me.

I don’t recognize him. He must be new but what is not new is the maze of brightly colored objects on the other side of the sliding doors.

“Hi! I am Greg from Minnesota,” I tell him. “Today, my goal is to be in and out of here in under three minutes.”

He looks a little baffled.  He is new, so I help him out.

“Just say go,” I tell him.

“Go,” he says.

See? He is already getting the hang of it.

I charge into the produce section as a gaggle of moms drift across my path forcing me to hurdle a pallet of watermelons.

At the meat department, I scan the shelves for the first item on my wife’s list: SPAM, but I can’t find it. I am stumped. Do I have to spend a life-line?

“Where is the SPAM?” I yell at the butcher.

He frowns. “Try aisle 4,” he says.

Across the store at Aisle 4, the shelves are stocked with cans of tuna, anchovies, clams and oysters. I spot a number of garishly colored packages but nothing that reads “SPAM”.

I burn another life-line on the kid stacking tuna. “Where’s the SPAM?” I shout.

He looks confused.

“SPAM?” I repeat in a panic.

“Is SPAM really a thing?” he wants to know.

“Sure, it’s pig parts.”

“Try the meat department.”

I explain that the butcher sent me to him – but he just shakes his head. He feels bad about wasting my last life-line and wants to redeem himself.

I give him another try.

“Cheetos,” I say.

He takes the challenge as an insult until I slyly add the modifier, “Baked.”

“Baked Cheetos?”


He nails it. “At the entrance to aisle 6.”

We slap hands and I am off on a run.

Everything falls into place. En route to Aisle 6. I find the SPAM hidden among the fixing for Chili. Within minutes, I score the last four items on my list – but then disaster strikes – the express lane is closed and a family of six is docking their cart at the only available register.

On the way out, the host is gone. There will be no consolation prize today.


At home I find my wife in the recliner watching The Bachelor.  

“Hey! I was watching…” I begin to protest – but there is no arguing with The Bachelor.

“Here,” she says, handing me a letter, “mail this. It’s a check for PBS. It’s about time you showed a little responsibility and after that,” she scolds, “ shovel the driveway. You could use the exercise.”

Another evening in paradise.

Author: Almost Iowa

37 thoughts on “My Evening”

  1. Casseroles. That must be the secret destination for those baked Cheetos and SPAM. The Cheetos are the brightly colored objects – go.

  2. Didn’t there used to be a show that actually had grocery shopping as a competition? You would have been very good at that, especially now that you know where the spam is stored.

    1. But my wife is so much better at shopping…. She should compete – while I watch at home in my recliner… wedged between my remote and beer.

      1. “Wedged between my remote and a bottle of beer” was actually one of my favorite lines in this post….. Good for you for working on yourself in our own way! It’s inspirational to the rest of us.

  3. Next time, wedge a few empty bottles beside you and tell your wife it would be irresponsible for you to drive. Just keep them on hand for later.

  4. My significant other would never interrupt my religious service. Alex Trebek is the messiah, you know, and he has all the answers. So at 7 pm each evening, Monday through Friday, I am glued to the altar of the big board. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will take me away from the service. Not spam. Not cheetos. Even if the house caught on fire, I would not move from my big soft comfy pew in my living room.

  5. Outstanding, Greg. I think I mentioned before that I have been banned from shopping. I don’t get that simple entertainment anymore. I have to go for the complex stuff like answering e-mails. 😀

      1. Might be fun. It is real easy. You deviate from the list and buy what you love. You know, chips, salsa, twelve pack of $15.00 beer. Lots of salted stuff instead of the low salt and the final act is forgetting to turn in the coupons.

  6. I really liked the tie-in between the two blood sports: marathon television watching and shopping. Also, the image of anyone vaulting watermelons always has a certain suspenseful prospect–a “Will he make it?” anticipation. Secretly, I’m hoping you end up in a vat of goo.

    1. Secretly, I’m hoping you end up in a vat of goo.

      Well then….. I cannot prove it but I highly suspect that because of your hopes, you are a supporter of my rival “Mike from Montana”. All I got to say is, “bring Mike on!!”

      There is no way I am letting him go home with the carton of Baked Cheetos and case of SPAM.

  7. LOL I never tasted Spam until I was in my late 30’s. My dad has his fill of it WW2. I kept wondering what all the hub bub was about it, now won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. I have turned into my dad. 😜

    1. For some odd reason, they go bonkers over SPAM in Hawaii. I don’t know what it is – but there is something about pineapple that compliments the taste of ham.

  8. Brilliant post. Who needs cable when I can get all the entertainment I need right here on WP?

    BTW, do you recall a show (or was it just a once-in-a-while thing?) that was based on a family, a grocery store, an empty cart, and the mandate to fill it with as much stuff from the shelves as you could in 60 seconds. Or some such tension-inducing time frame. You could do that.

    1. I remember that and if I remember correctly, it ended in a major scandal. The show employed that notorious grocery cart that constantly pulls hard to the left. The best you could do was fill it with toilet paper from the big pyramid at the front of the store.

  9. This is the proof that Mama was right: the ones you hang out with will shape your behavior. While I don’t for a minute believe this is factual, I believe with my whole being that it’s true (hence, the great humor). But it still is mostly a reminder that I really did make the right decision in 2011, when all of the televisions were sent packing. If I need a specific program, there’s always the PBS online archive. Otherwise? It’s all good.

    But I have to ask — have you been to the Spam Museum? I have, and it was a terrific place. I certainly learned a good bit I didn’t know about that delectable product. Speaking of tv, maybe it’s time for a re-run of that post.

    1. Steven Colbert coined the tension between truth and fact as “truthiness”. Anyone who has watched lawyers work appreciates the concept. In my young and naive years, I was shocked that a lawyer could attack the veracity of a witness, even though the lawyer, the judge and half the people in the gallery knew from excluded evidence that what the witness was saying was the absolute truth. In our legal system, that is considered “ethical behavior”.

      Speaking of what comes out of our justice system, yes, I have been to the SPAM museum. Almost Iowa is just down the road from Austin MN.

  10. Poor soul, you almost had it. Now, I’m running through the possibilities of things that could be made with SPAM and Cheetos. Then again, SPAM and Cheetos might be OK just like that. By the way, did you know that only 10% of the people who shovel driveways give to their local PBS station? It’s true, you have to do your part

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