Another real-life adventure in naked garden shopping

Don’t you just hate it when you’re standing in the checkout line, next to be served, and you suddenly realize that you’re naked?

Well, OK, not literally naked. But that’s how you feel when you reach for your wallet and realize it’s not there. And that’s what happened to me a couple weeks ago.

My wife and I had flown down to Florida to check on our snowbird home after Hurricane Irma roared directly over it, and we were happy to see that damage to the house was less than we had feared, though her garden had taken a hard hit. Any gardener weeps to see her babies treated so roughly, but tears don’t last long when it means a trip to the plant nursery to get more babies.

As further incentive, my wife’s sister and aunt were coming to spend Thanksgiving with us, so she dragged me to the plant nursery to stock up on a load of greenery that would last most people a lifetime. Never mind that we had dropped a couple hundred dollars at that same nursery just the week before. It was time to get “dessert” to go with the main course.

And when we lumbered up to the cash register with our laden plant cart in tow, I realized that my wallet was missing! And along with it all my cash, credit cards, and any proof that am a natural-born human being with a right to be on this planet!

NAKED!!!

Oh, sure, there are plenty of people who like nothing more than to stand naked in front of strangers. The news is full of them. But that’s not me. I’m not comfortable with being naked, even when I’m the only one unfortunate enough to be inflicted with the sight of it.

In a panic, I tried to reconstruct the events that led to this shocking display of my public nudity.

We had come to the nursery straight from home, so I couldn’t have left the wallet at some other store. And I always keep my wallet in my right front pocket, so there was little chance that it might have slipped out when we got out of the car.

It had to be at home.

And that made sense, because just before coming to the nursery, my superhuman ability to foresee the immediate future told me that I would soon be waist-deep in potting mix and fertilizer, so I decided at the last minute to change into my “gardening shorts.” That meant my wallet had to be in the right front pocket of my “leave me alone, I’m watching TV” shorts, which were now hanging on a hook in the closet.

I considered my options.

Home was only about five minutes away by car. Option one: I could leave my wife at the garden store and dash home to get my wallet and be back in a flash.

But that would be a bad idea, because my wife is in a wheelchair and can’t talk. Leaving her alone would be a bad caregiver move — especially for a caregiver who can’t prove he’s a natural-born human being with a right to be on this planet, just in case he gets stopped in his haste by a genuine human-being Earth cop. Besides, even if I didn’t get stopped, by the time I got back in fifteen minutes or so, my wife would have found a way to get helpful passers-by to haul an even bigger pile of greenery to the cash register for her.

And so it would have to be option two: I would have to take her home with me, even though forcing her to leave a plant nursery without a car packed with expensive greenery would constitute a hostage situation in her mind.

We got in the car, but a gigantic pickup truck had me boxed in from behind. I waited patiently for him to pull forward, but the parking lot was bustling with cars coming and going, so it took a couple minutes for him to pull up — an eternity when you’re naked.

When my rear-view mirror showed that he had pulled forward enough for me to back out, I put the car in reverse and started rolling back. But a quick glance in my side-view mirror showed that he was hauling a low trailer that was too low to see in the rear-view mirror. I slammed on the brakes, just inches short of an event that would surely call for an exchange of information that was currently in the right front pocket of my “leave me alone, I’m watching TV” shorts hanging on a hook in the closet.

“OK… OK… Just slow down,” I said to myself with a few deep, calming breaths. “No need to hurry. Nobody knows you’re naked, except you. Don’t do anything stupid and you’ll get through this.”

My wallet was right where I thought it would be, and we were back at the plant store in a flash. And in the end it worked out fine from my wife’s point of view, because on the drive she had a chance to reconsider some of the things we had loaded into the cart. She had me pull out that one red-topped bromeliad with the leaves that didn’t look as healthy as they should, and I was glad to see it go—until she had me pack three healthier bromeliads into the cart. And a coreopsis. And a bougainvillea. And another blue salvia.

When we got back home my wallet was a lot lighter, and I put my gardening shorts through a good workout, but I didn’t mind. It felt good just not to be naked anymore.

And to once again be a card-carrying natural-born human being with proof that he has a right to be on this planet.

A planet that my wife considers to be naked until she clothes it with expensive greenery.

Author, musician and storyteller TR Kerth is a retired teacher who has lived in Sun City Huntley since 2003. Contact him at trkerth@yahoo.com. Can’t wait for your next visit to Planet Kerth? Then get TR’s book, “Revenge of the Sardines,” available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book distributors.

Comment on This Story

*