Archive for April, 2021


I don’t know where I lost that switch. The switch that gets flipped when I get mad or get threatened…the button that gets pushed when I get pushed.

It wasn’t a normal Sunday. It was kind of a sad and lonely Sunday.

On the Saturday before, my wife and I picked up her mother at the Burn Unit at West Penn Hospital. My wife’s mother (my mother-in-law), who I affectionately refer to as Mrs. Lupner, had been residing there for the previous 4 weeks. The poor girl had a cooking accident and burned herself badly. We are lucky Mrs. Lupner is still with us.

Maybe, subconsciously, I was considering how lucky “we” were, and that’s why the switch didn’t flip. Maybe, but that’s not like me.

As a family, we decided my wife was going to be the major caregiver for her mom while she recovered at home for the next several weeks.  I was kinda bummed about that situation, as I like having my wife home to do all the things I hate to do…mostly cooking, lawn care, snow removal, linen laundry, shaving my back, dog maintenance, grocery shopping…I could go on, but you get the gist. She’s also really funny and a joy to be around…she is what you would call, “good company”.

Bummer, yes, but I was also very proud. While my wife was certainly going to be doing all the so called “heavy lifting”, it was going to take a team effort from our entire family to make it work. …and nobody questioned it for a second. Mrs. Large Man was going to stay with Mrs. Lupner until she could get back on her feet, and that was that. The Large Man family unit was proud to do it.

So, feeling lucky, feeling proud, feelings of goodness, may have been residing deep in the cracks & crevasses of my hypothalamus when I was attacked, but they were certainly not in the front and center of my thoughts when it happened. I don’t know what I was thinking; I was probably just thinking about groceries.

I like grocery stores on the weekend, Mrs. Large Man doesn’t. Grocery stores at 10:00 on a Saturday morning, Walmart on Black Friday, and convenience store gas stations when there is a BOGO sale on Slim Jims are awesome! I find the bedlam exhilarating, and I always have.

Now that I’m more of an internet shopper, I really miss going to shopping malls at Christmas time. I have always loved the hustle and bustle of a shopping crowd. It’s great people watching drama; fist fights over parking spaces, two sets of hands belonging to two different people grabbing the last Cabbage Patch doll on the shelf, and the violence and hysteria that ensues. All the unruliness is the true magic of the Christmas season. My Christmas joy is watching people who celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior and the peace that His Holy Presence brings by beating the shit out of each other so their child can have the last Play Station XXVII (or whatever one they’re on now). When there is one toy left, and there are 3 Christmas shoppers looking at it, I guarantee you NONE of the 3 potential purchasers are thinking, “WWJD?” Joy.


So, I pop into the grocery store on this chilly Sunday afternoon with no inkling of trepidation. I grab a couple of steaks, some tots, and a bag of salad – the salad is just for looks. My wife ain’t home, there’s no way my son and I are eating salad on “steak night”. But if I buy a bag of Very Veggie, I can feel good about the effort. I check out, load the bags in my truck, and take the cart back to the parking lot cart corral. I will often launch my cart into the cart corral chute from a small distance as kind of a target competition with myself. I probably do this because my mom smoked and drank when she was pregnant with me, but nevertheless, it gives me joy. On this particular day, this particular shot, was right down the centerperfect shot. This is important because of what I’m going to tell you in the next paragraph.

I leave the cart corral very pleased with myself, and head back to my truck, as I’m walking I cross paths with a smallish man with and even smaller young boy accompanying him, as they are walking towards the store. The man was dressed head to toe in green tone camouflage clothing, and the young boy in sweatpants and a plain white short sleeved tee-shirt.

“Right down the middle of the street, huh?”, the man sort of barked at me as we passed each other.

I assumed he was talking about my excellent grocery cart shot, so I smiled and nodded.

“F-ing asshole!” he growled as he continued walking.

Except he didn’t really say “F-ing”, but I’m giving a concerted effort to stop using the F word in my Large Man Chronicles, I’ve been told by people whom I respect that I say, “Fuck” way too much. Shit! I did it again! Damnit!

I digress…

Anyway, the guy calls me an “f-ing a-hole” in front of a small child, and it kinda stops me in my tracks.

I reply, quite startled, “Excuse me, sir, what? Is there a problem?”

“Yeah there’s a f-ing problem, you f-ing a-hole, piece of s#!t! I’m driving through the parking lot looking for a place to park and you’re pushing your empty cart back right down the middle of the f-ing lane and I gotta wait for you like the whole f-ing world revolves around  you.”

Then I said, “Huh?”

Then he started walking quickly back towards me and yelled really loud so that other people in the lot could hear, “You’re a fucking asshole!”.

Which, by the way, could be accurate, but there is no way he could make that determination in the short time we had known each other. We had only exchanged a few words, and he did most of the talking.

As he hurled the last insult, he was walking toward me at a brisk pace. I put my hand up and said, “Don’t come any closer, sir. You are not wearing a mask, and I’m feeling a little threatened here.”

“Why would you walk down the middle of the street with a f-ing grocery cart?” He barked this time in the form of a question.

“I didn’t see you, sir. I guess I just wasn’t paying attention. I’m sorry”, I answered.

Wait, what? Where was my button? Hostile, angry words accompanied by aggressive posturing and body language, all directed at me…by someone half my size, I might add. Nothing. I apologized?

Was it the presence of the small child? Was it surprise? Was it fear? Was it the fact that my friend, Steve, (who I easily outweigh by 60 or 70 pounds) threw me around like a rag doll a couple of years ago, while horsing around on a “male bonding” golf trip, thus causing me to question my own testosterone fueled feelings of invincibility?

Was it maturity?

My follow up comment probably rules out maturity. I asked, “Did it occur to you that maybe I couldn’t see you because of all that fancy camouflage you’re wearing?”

Then he said, “Huh?”

This wasn’t exactly a battle of wits between two titans of intellect.

I looked my extremely aggressive verbal assailant in the eyes, I smiled, and I said, “Again sir, I’m sorry. My mind must have been wandering. I wasn’t paying attention.”

He threw his hands in the air, shook his head ruefully at me, then turned around and walked away towards the store. That should have been the end. My restraint and perhaps fear, maybe the memory of getting my ass whipped by an IT guy (for the record, a very young, strong and athletic IT guy…Steve, from the aforementioned golf trip), or perhaps my maturity, looked like it had diffused the situation. But if that had been the case, it would hardly be worthy of a Large Man post. 😊

As camo man and his young (and seemingly unaffected by it all) son walked to the store, and I walked to my truck, one of a handful of casually observing innocent bystanders said to me from a smoke filled pickup truck cab, “You are a real gentleman, my friend. I would have knocked him right on his f-ing ass, right in front of his kid.” For a Sunday, people were sure using the f word a lot.

Well, as luck would have it, camo man heard this, turned around, hustled back to the spot of our original confrontation and invited the commentator to, “…step out of [his] truck and give it a try!”

A few more words were exchanged, I doubt that these two guys knew anything about each other’s mothers, but they mentioned mothers and sons and body parts extensively in their exchange.

Now that I’m no longer a player in the ruckus, and just an observer, I take on the role of “peacekeeper”.

I walk back to the general vicinity and I speak:

“Guys, guys, guys. Come on guys. There’s a little kid here. This is all ridiculous. This language, this hostility, c’mon guys! I said I was sorry, let’s just leave it be.”

My speech was brilliant, thought provoking, and immediately effective. Camo man said, “Fuck you!” as he erected his middle finger in the direction of the smoke-filled truck. Smokey the Pickup man told Camo, “You’re a dick. You’re lucky this guy didn’t kick your ass”. 

Camo and son walk away. I never saw them again. Smokey looked at me, smiled, and shook his head. Confrontation over.

Full disclosure, Smokey offered up my ass kicking services without really understanding my ass kicking abilities. I’m a 61-year-old, out of shape, diabetic, husband, father, and salesman. I’m a watcher of movies, a writer of stories, an amateur beer sommelier, a singer of songs, admirer of women who dance for money, and an eater of steaks, tacos, pepperoni pizza, and things that require Large amounts of butter. Most of my “active time” is spent sitting down. I’m pretty sure I’m not in the “ass kicking” phase of my life now, but as a man, it was nice to know someone still believed in me.

I went home and shared the story with my son. He was appalled but told me he was proud of me for showing such restraint because he has seen “the switch” get flipped, he knows the ugliness of my post switch condition. Later that night I had a phone call with my wife, shared the story (with only a few embellishments so she would miss me more), SHE was also appalled and told me how proud she was that I could show all this restraint, maturity and calm in such a volatile situation. The next day I shared the story with my daughter; and SHE was appalled as well…but for a different reason. She called me a “little bitch” for backing down. But still, 2 out of three ain’t bad.

Restraint, calm, maturity…The Large Man…rarely in my history have these words been gathered together in a single sentence. I’m proud of myself too. I know a guy who looks a lot like me, who only a few years ago would have reacted so differently. The switch would have flipped, and idiocy would have followed…just for the sake of idiocy.

I may be growing up. What a crazy thought.

Thanks for reading…until next time, be sweet, Big Love…TLM

Read Full Post »