After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

A Sprig of Parsley

My late wife Alice used to do all our grocery shopping, but as her health declined she began relying on me more and more to take over for her, until I was doing it all by myself while she stayed home.

This was pretty hilarious at first, as I might need to call her on the phone literally ten times to figure out things that I was clueless about.

“A sprig of parsley, light half and half, and 3 lbs of red potatoes,” read the little slip in my pocket as I went to pick up some things for Alice at Cub Foods.

Well that’s pretty easy, except, parsley? That’d be somewhere on these shelves full of myriad, mysterious greenery… which usually have little labels saying what each item is, but today those were nowhere to be found.

I looked among the shelves, hoping for some sort of clue, but none was forthcoming. And so, I came to the horrified realization that there was only one way I was going to complete my mission: own it.

I found a older lady and her daughter nearby and approached them. “Hi, sorry to be such an idiot, but do you know how to recognize parsley?”

There’s that moment when you see it in their eyes: the thought that, “Is this silver-haired bearded gentleman a threat? Is he going to turn out to be crazy?

Then I could see her expression soften as her fight-or-flight instinct diminished, and based on her new facial expression I’d gather that she’d concluded that not only was I not a dangerous wackadoodle, but that actually, this whole exchange was pretty darned amusing.

A number of other people observing this interaction came to the same conclusion, and suddenly I had five newfound friends rummaging through the mysterious green leafy things on the shelves.

“I think this is it.”

“No, I think that’s cilantro. Smell it.”

“It’s just been washed; I can’t smell a thing.”

“Crush one of the leaves and smell it, that’s a dear.”

“I found the curly parsley, is that good enough? See, the sprigs are pretty large.”

“Don’t feel bad, my wife is oriental, and when we go to the oriental market I have no idea what I’m looking at.”

After profuse thanks, smiles and laughter all around, I bid goodbye to my new friends and was off to the checkout counter.