So there's this South Hill grocery store where the cashiers tend to be a bit chatty.
That's fine. It is more amusing than annoying, even for a confirmed grouch like me.
But ever since I started buying five pints of chocolate milk every weekend, the chatting has gone from friendly and casual to intense and evangelical.
The young woman ringing up my purchases today positively exclaimed when she saw my chocolate milk. So I decided to come up with a new, more entertaining (at least for me) response.
"Yes," I said. "My grandson really likes it."
My cashier just about went into orbit. Apparently the thought of an old crank like me having a personality-softening grandson struck her as just how the world is supposed to work.
We didn't get much further with the grandson saga. There was no "Oh, he's a handful" or whatever.
But the cashier never stopped smiling. The thought of my grandson guzzling his chocolate milk seemed to please her no end.
Maybe she's a mom or wants to be. In any case, she seemed like a fine young woman.
Anyway, the experience gave me an idea. Why not develop the story and add a new chapter every weekend when I revisit that store?
I decided I would name my make-believe grandson, Ethan. My real-life family actually is related to a member of the famed Green Mountain Boys, so I could explain how my son and daughter-in-law named him after Ethan Allen.
(If you don't know who the Ethan Allen of Green Mountain Boys fame was, you are excused from the room.)
In subsequent store trips, I could give my grandson Ethan a little sister, the irrepressible Rachel Carson Turner. And a loyal family dog, Polaris, nicknamed Choco.
Or I could just mumble and say "Yeah, it's pretty good," when asked about my basket full of pints of chocolate milk.
But it sort of seems a shame to deny these characters life.
And since I created them, maybe I would be the one to counsel them about life's little problems.
"You see, Ethan, your mom and dad love you so much, they just want the very best for you. It would really please me if you could try to be a little more patient with them. Here, have some chocolate milk. When we're done with our snack, we'll get Rachel and go for a bike ride."