Rusty Mitchum

Rusty Mitchum

Rusty is headed somewhere, so I thought I’d take the helm this week, whatever a helm is. He told me where he was going, but I probably wasn’t paying attention.

Sometimes it’s nice when he’s away. I can use the solitude. There is no solitude when Rusty’s home. It’s like living with the Tasmanian devil.

When he gets home the first thing he will do will be to kiss me. Then he’ll throw his stuff on the floor, and then go and hang on the pantry door.

“How come there’s never anything in here to eat?” he’ll say. He always says that.

“The pantry is full of things to eat,” I’ll say, as I always do.

Then he’ll say. “But it’s all foo foo stuff. There ain’t no real food in here.”

This routine has happened too many times to count. Once, I told him that I was going to let him pick out the groceries. Anything he wanted. Here’s how that trip went.

“OK,” said Rusty. “Now, you push the buggy, and I’ll fill’er up.”

“Fine,” I said.

“OK. Where’s the Vienny sausage aisle?”

“They don’t have an aisle just for Vienna sausages.”

“You know, that’s why these places go out of business all the time, they don’t take care of their customer’s needs. I wonder where the Viennies are.”

“I’m pretty sure they will be in the canned meat section. But why don’t we work our way down each aisle?”

“Why would we do somethin’ stupid like that?”

“Never mind.” Arguing with Rusty is like arguing with a toad stool. Of course a toad stool will listen.

We found the Vienna sausages.

“Would you look at this? We hit the mother lode! There’s Viennies, potted meat, deviled ham, and hey looky here! Right there are the sardines. Man, they could just have this aisle and get rid of the rest of the junk in this place.”

“I can’t believe you eat that junk,” I said.

“Hey, looky here,” he said, ignoring my comment. “Smoked oysters! Look around and see if you see St. Peter, ‘cause I think we may be in Heaven.”

“Brother,” I said. “If you keep eating that stuff, you’ll be in Heaven sooner than you think.”

“Yeah, well a lot you know. I heard on the radio that if you eat a can of sardines a day, you’d live to be a hunnerd.”

“You mean a hundred.”

“That’s what I said. Hey looky here, they got kipper snacks.”

“What?”

“Smoked herring in a can. Man, you mash’em up, slop some Louisiana hot sauce in there with it, and then slap it on a cracker and you’ve got a meal fit for a king!”

“Yeah, a king crab.”

“Man, I can taste it now.”

“Yeah, and I can smell your breath now.”

“We got any Louisiana hot sauce at the house?”

“Yes Rusty, we have plenty. You always write it on my shopping list. By the way; Louisiana is not spelled, L-U-C-Y-A-N-N-A.”

“You sure we got some?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Well, if you say so, but we better pick up a few bottles just in case. Hey, we got any crackers?”

“Yes, we have crackers.”

“Well, we better pick up a couple of boxes just in case.”

“Hey, we got any mustard for the sardines?”

“Yes,” I sighed. “We have plenty of mustard.”

“Well, we better get a couple of bottles just in case. Hey, by the way, what kind of Louisiana hot sauce do we have?”

“Rusty,” I growled. “You are driving me crazy.”

“Hey Momma, that ship’s already sailed. Now, what kind of Louisiana hot sauce do we have?”

“Every kind they’ve ever made,” I replied.

“You know I’m kind of picky when it comes to my hot sauce.”

“You use a different brand every day.”

“Well, each one has a different ambiance.”

“Ambiance?”

“Yeah, you probably don’t know what that means.”

“Do you know what it means?”

“Of course I do.”

“Tell me.”

“Well… it means... uh… heck, if you don’t know, I don’t have time to tell you.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Hey, looky here. They’ve got shrimps in a can. Wonder what they taste like?”

“Probably like canned shrimp,” I sighed.

“You think? Hmmm, I’ll try a can.”

“How about some tuna?” I asked.

“Tuna fish? Nah. It don’t taste the same since they quit puttin’ dolphins in there with it.”

“What?”

“Yeah, those dolphins are what gave it the flavor.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“As Popeye says, ‘I yam what I yam.’”

I rolled my eyes. Yes, I do roll my eyes. If you were married to Rusty, you would, too; a lot.

Then we went and picked up some more hot sauce, mustard and crackers.

“OK, Rusty,” I said. “Where to now?”

“I’m through,” he said.

“That’s it?”

“Yep. Let’s go.”

“But all you have is a bunch of canned meat!”

“So?”

“So, this stuff isn’t good for you.”

“Remember what I told you about the sardines?”

“Look, this stuff is going to kill you.”

“Hey, you’ve got to die of something.”

“I am so sick of hearing you say that. If you say that one more time, I’m going to kill you myself.”

He grinned and said, “Hey, you’ve got to die of something.”

The funeral is pending.

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.