Butch Visits The Lafayette Wal-Mart

My wife and shopped at the Wal-Mart on State Road 26 East in Lafayette a couple of weeks ago . . . needed to pick up a few odds and ends. It was a cloudy, cold, and windy day, and we were bundled up in our winter coats. As we approached the entrance, I noticed a fellow who appeared to be in his 30s, pushing a cart full of groceries out the front door. He was wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Seriously. And once inside, in front of us was a teenage girl in shorts and a tank top!

Strange? No, this is a fairly common occurrence. The temperature inside the store, at my best guess, was around 60 degrees. My hands were cold as I pushed the cart around, yet I saw several little kids with no coats. As a youngster, my folks insisted I dress warmly during the winter months…heavy coat, hat, and gloves. All of my classmates did the same . . . no questions asked. Yes, yes . . . I know . . . it’s a different world that we live in now. I grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. People had more common sense, and we did what our parents told us to do . . . no questions asked. In addition, peer pressure to conform was the standard. That flew out the window in the late 1960s with the “do your own thing” philosophy. It’s been that way ever since, but in the past few years, a few people have gone haywire.

Nowadays you never know what to expect when out in the public. At Wal-Mart that afternoon, two women were shopping in their pajamas. They even had on their furry slippers. In the line to the pharmacy was a guy whose jeans were hanging down so low that you could see all of his backside underwear, as he held his pants up with one hand. Evidently no one had told him that belts had been invented several thousand years ago. A young girl looking at hair products was wearing leather shorts, fishnet hose with numerous holes, and shoes with thick 5-inch heels . . . sorry . . . NOT stylish! As I headed down the snack aisle, I got behind a rather heavy-set lady who was driving an electric cart. Her slacks evidently were way too short . . . talk about “plumber’s crack” Oh, my Lord! Ma’am, you might want to skip the Cheetos and Little Debbies today. As I headed to the frozen food section, I met a tall fellow. He had on a cowboy hat and cowboy boots . . . and he was wearing a skirt and carrying a large purse . . . perhaps the modern day version of Matt Dillon. Maybe Matt kept his $300 Coach purse in his saddlebag.

And it’s not just clothing. A short fellow standing at the jewelry counter had his entire face, neck, and bald head covered in tattoos. Tattoos are OK . . . but the entire head? And hair . . . how many colors did I see? Blue, magenta, green, pink, rainbow . . . you name it. A man shopping in the meat department had a bright red mohawk hairdo. The fellow with him had those large earrings protruding from the giant holes in his stretched-out earlobes. I’m still not sure what tribe those two belonged to, but I remember seeing their ancestors in a National Geographic magazine back in 1957.

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t get it. Perhaps they look at me and say, “Gee, look at that old guy with the silver hair, wire-rimmed glasses and Milwaukee Braves hat . . . He sures looks goofy!”

Well, live and let live. I will admit that it makes shopping more entertaining. And the great thing is . . . I don’t have to pay to see these people. It’s like going to the circus for free!

You know, after all of these sightings, perhaps shorts and T-shirts in 20-degree weather isn’t so bad after all.

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.