Editor's Column

"The grocery clerks of Whidbey Island have a subtle way of telling us it's time to lose some weight, and I think my time has arrived.Being polite, the clerks don't look you in the eye and call you a porker. Instead, they simply fish an item out of your groceries and ask, Do you want this left out? To begin with, it's a single candy bar, and the customer has an uncomfortable decision to make: Do I want to admit I'm going to eat this XX Size Baby Ruth in the car, or do I want to pretend it's not for me and then spend five minutes digging through the grocery bags trying to find it?My response is always No thanks, and the clerk, looking dubious, drops the candy bar into a bag. I know she knows I'm lying, and she probably dashes to the window after I leave to watch me dig through the bags in the back of the car searching for that prize of nutty chocolate covered chewy stuff. But I'm just not going to admit that a man of my age plans to eat a big fat candy bar. If anyone asks, I'm actually taking the candy bar home where I will cut it into five pieces to share with the family, as if it's Christmas Eve in the little house on the prairie.Eventually I tired of clerks asking, Do you want this left out? so I tried purchasing packages of six candy bars. Surely they wouldn't think I'd eat six of them on the way home. My first and last attempt at this was a six-pack of Hershey bars, and right on cue the clerk asked, Do you want these left out?NO! I replied, loud enough to make others behind me in line wonder what the problem was. I don't want them left out. But somehow I knew the clerk knew that I'd be ripping open that Hershey's package before I left the parking lot.My next effort was to take a couple of pounds of loose candy of various types, stuff it in a bag, and mix it up with $100 worth of rice cakes. But as dependable as the tides, the clerk fished out the two-pounds of mixed candy and asked, Do you want this left out?What? She didn't think I might want the rice cakes left out? How did she know that the rice cakes were just a distraction from the real intent of my trip to the grocery store, which was to get some candy? No, no, no, I didn't want the candy left out, thank you, and I drove a mile down the road before digging it out of the rice cake pile just so the clerk couldn't possibly see me. Maybe if I was skinny she'd have asked about the rice cakes. Isn't that discrimination of some sort?Eventually I quit buying candy at the grocery store, but that didn't cure the problem. Last week I bought a 16-ounce spray can of Reddi-Whip, and the clerk asked, Do you want this left out?What? Does she think I'm going to drive down the road spraying whipped cream into my mouth? Do I look that fat? Hey, that actually isn't a bad idea.. . Are there any laws against spraying and driving?Well, that thought broke the camel's back, and I've decided the grocery clerks of Whidbey Island are right. I should lose some weight. Sometime before November, so when I buy the annual 25 pound frozen turkey they won't ask, Do you want this left out? "

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