I hated shopping. And I really hated shopping at Boo Boo’s Food Emporium, but seeing how I was living in a backwoods town, I had no choice. Boo Boo’s was the only grocery, the only dry goods, the only merchandise store around.
Boo Boo Borghese came to our little spot on the map years ago, and after that, we’d quickly forgotten how inconvenient it was to plan a whole day to go to the big city to shop. Now we could actually have spur-of-the-moment suppers. We could fix spaghetti, if we felt like it, on a whim. That is, if Boo Boo ordered enough ground beef that week. We didn’t necessarily like Boo Boo the Man (Ms. Riley claimed she saw him riding his thumb on the scale while weighing Ezra Colhern’s chicken thighs), but nothing beat Boo Boo the Business.
One thing that ruled in our town was rumor. In this place, no one would have anything to talk about if we only told the truth. It was that B-boring. So we all understood a little gossip was needed to add spicy endings to lunches or suppers. We also knew Boo Boo’s was the best place to get rumor and innuendo. The lines could be long in his store since Boo Boo was the only check-out clerk. He was the only deli counter clerk, meat clerk, and produce clerk, so we tended to stand around a lot at Boo Boo’s. But as Boo Boo dashed past, on his way to the deli, say, he liked to lean into a crowd and whisper a word or two.
Just so happened he whispered “bachelors” into my gang of gals one day when we were all waiting for Boo Boo to slice his bologna.
“What?” exclaimed Maddy. She was a little bit hard of hearing. Wore her hair behind her ears to catch more sound.
“Did you hear Boo Boo? I think he said ‘bountiful bachelors.’” Danna, our only hairdresser, raised her eyebrows and giggled.
She was too old to be giggling, but a bachelor in our town was exciting business. There had to be at least four women to every man, and most of those males were married. We looked at each other. What in the Sam Hill could Boo Boo mean?
As Boo Boo raced to the produce aisle to stack his orange pyramid, he whispered to us “night.”
One more trip past our group yielded “at Boo Boo’s” from his lips.
I turned to Danna. “I think he’s saying there’s going to be a bountiful bachelors’ night at Boo Boo’s!”
We girls devoured that tidbit, chewed it up, and regurgitated it more than once as we waited for our bologna.
“When you get your cold cuts, Karen, make sure you ask Boo Boo when” Sissy urged me. It was my turn at the counter.
I nodded and stepped into place at the head of the line. Boo Boo waited patiently for me, a grin as wide as the Mississippi on his face.
“I’d like a pound of bologna, sliced thin, and…uh... I want to know when.”
“Bologna. Sliced thin. Got it.” Boo Boo set to work. When he’d wrapped my meat, he leaned over the counter. “Thursday.” He smiled bigger and winked.
As I passed the gals in line, I whispered Thursday. They nodded knowingly, their lips all but licked at the prospects ahead.
Everyone in town knew about Bountiful Bachelors’ Night at Boo Boo’s by the time Thursday came. We single girls preened one last time in our rearview mirrors before waltzing into Boo Boo’s like a lip-sticked tribe of headhunters. Our eyes scanned the store for our quarry. And there they were! Bachelors pushed shopping carts down every aisle. I nearly fainted. Like shooting fish in a barrel. We staked our claims and went to shopping. By the time the night ended, the only gal who didn’t have a date was Maddy, and it was her fault. She’d decided to wear pigtails over her ears and missed every conversation thrown her way.
Years later, when we’d married our bachelors, had our kids, who, in turn, had their own kids, I’d asked Boo Boo what had possessed him to hold Bountiful Bachelors’ night so long ago.
He’d smiled his Mississippi-wide smile and winked. “Good for business.”
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