I live in a fairly small town out in the country and like most small towns, we seem to have our share of local flavor mixed in. That’s not to say that big cities don’t have their own brand of eccentrics but they aren’t quite as endearing as the small town types. In fact, some of them are downright scary. I should know, I work in New York. But that is neither here nor there because there is nothing scary about this particular local character. The only thing he has ever been known to kill is the few free minutes you may have had as you raced about trying to get your errands done.
Now I had just come out of the drugstore with my Sunday copies of the NY Daily News & NY Post. I’ll buy them but I won’t have them delivered. Have to keep up appearances for the neighbors you know. When suddenly I heard someone call my name. I am generally not rude enough to pretend that I didn’t hear a person call my name so even though I definitely recognized the voice, I turned to say hello and there he was. Let’s just call him Peter.
“Hey Peter. How are you ? I haven’t seen you in a while.” I said with a smile that did not befit the thought in my mind that I was now going to be stuck for the next 10-20 minutes.
“I’m fine Mr. Nomo. I’m fine. You know I saw you at Shop-Rite a while back with one of your daughters but I didn’t say hello.” He said earnestly.
“You no doubt did. I am there a bit too much. You should have said hi.” I replied.
“Now Nomo, that’s an Irish name, isn’t it ?” he asked as though we hadn’t changed topics.
“No, it’s actually Welsh.” I began to wonder where this was going and how long it was going to take to get there.
“Ah, Welsh. Well you still have some Celt in you. You know I’m Irish but the spelling of my last name is English because when my ancestors came over it was better to be English than Irish so we added a W.” He began to ramble.
“So I’m still Irish though you would think I was English.” He smiled.
“I’m a little bit of everything myself Peter except for Italian. I let my wife handle that part for the kids.” I knew I had said too much but somehow it came out anyway.
“But you still have some Irish in you.” He beamed. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I have maybe enough Irish in me to spit. “You know I got up shaved, showered, made my coffee and got out the door today in 45 minutes.”
“Sounds like me getting ready for the train each morning.”
He ignored my reply and continued on. “Have you ever had Bailey’s Irish Cream ? I would think a Celt like you would have had it before.”
“Yes I have Peter but not in the 20 odd years since I quit drinking.” I was starting to begin to try and piece our conversation together and I think I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I saw a couple of people come out of the drugstore, take 2 steps in our direction and then veer off across the parking lot in a circuitous manner back to their cars.
“Oh it’s really good. They now make an Irish Cream International Flavor Coffeemate that is almost as good as the real thing. I always buy it. I have some in my coffee mug in the truck right now.” He smiled again.
“Really. I haven’t tried it.” I replied.
“Well you really should. Like I said, it’s really good. They sell it in Shop-Rite all the way in the back by the milk.” He informed me.
“I’ll have to look for it. Thanks Peter.”
“No problem Mr. Nomo. You have a nice day. I’m kind of in a hurry. See you.” He said and with that, he was off walking across the parking lot back to his truck and I was left to wonder how seeing me set us off on the trip from Shop-Rite to names to Ireland to Coffee to Bailey’s to Coffeemate and back to Shop-Rite.
I have to admit that later that day when I was in Shop-Rite, I went looking for the Irish Cream Coffeemate all the way in the back by the milk but they were sold out. I guess Peter bought the last one.
And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades….swampy abides…