As I piloted our borrowed Yukon down the road, Wrong Willie scribbled on a note pad he found in my briefcase. "You making notes of this fishing trip for me?" I asked.
"Nope. You're the writer," he answered. "I'm sure you'll make something up about trout in Lake City. I'm making us each a grocery list."
Doc leaned forward from the back seat. "What do we need with grocery lists?"
"We're going to stop when we get to Colorado and buy groceries. I'm not eating trail mix and beef jerky during this whole trip."
"Why don't you make just one list?" Jerry Wayne asked from his position directly behind my driver's seat.
"Because I don't want to spend all afternoon in the grocery section," Willie answered. "Each of us will have a list of groceries and we'll be out of there in a quarter of the time."
"I can't wait to see how this works," I told them and we rolled out west where the wild sun sets.
Hours later, I pulled into the parking lot and slammed on the brakes when Wrong Willie shrieked, "Stop!"
Jerry Wayne thumped into the back of my seat. "What?" I shouted, thinking a small child had darted in front of us.
"A lemon!" Wrong Willie shouted and de-trucked. He ran in front of the Yukon, retrieved a lemon from the pavement, and held it proudly aloft.
"Get out of the way," Doc said through the open window and I parked.
Willie grinned like a lunatic. "This will save us money. Now we don't have to buy lemons."
Instead of answering that none of us had lemons on our lists in the first place, we proceeded inside. The first item on my short list was bread, so I peeled off down the aisle. Doc was already there.
"Buying hamburger buns," he said in answer to my unspoken question.
"Buying bread," I said, grabbing a loaf and heading around the corner, where I bumped into Jerry Wayne, who was buying cereal, which was on the coffee aisle, where I was supposed to get coffee. We waved as I passed him to proceed toward the dairy aisle where Doc was looking at eggs, which were not on his list.
We stared at each other for a moment and then I had an idea. I'd hurry over to the sporting goods aisle and buy a fishing license. Then the guys could do the same as we collected our groceries.
Doc beat me there. "Grocery lists," he sneered.
I looked into his basket as we waited for our turn behind two other people. "Why do you have cheese? Cheese is on my list."
"I got worried there wouldn't be any for the sandwiches."
"But it was on my list."
"I hadn't seen your list, so I got cheese."
The guy in front of Doc turned around. "I can't eat a sandwich without cheese. That was a good, safe move."
Jerry Wayne suddenly appeared behind me. "Oh, you guys had the same idea."
"I guess I need to put this cheese back on the shelf," he said, looking into my basket.
"Probably. It wasn't on your list anyway."
"Why are y'all all over here?" Willie asked. "You have groceries to buy... why do y'all all have cheese?."
"They like cheese," the salesperson responded from behind the counter.
"How does he know?" Willie asked.
"Just go with it," I told him.
We stood in line for another 30 minutes to get our licenses, then once again dispersed to finish shopping. I put back the cheese. We stopped in the deli area to compare lists to make sure we weren't doubling up on items.
"We have everything," Willie said in satisfaction. "See, this was very efficient."
I looked at my watch, sighed and led the parade to the checkout line. We placed all the items on the conveyer belt and awaited the total. Then we divided it by four and everyone dug in jeans for the appropriate amount.
As the checker shook her head, she placed the full sacks in one basket, left the others to be collected and we headed for the parking lot, an hour and 15 minutes later.
Willie sighed in satisfaction as we pulled back on the highway toward Lake City. "See, just a little organization is all we need."
He was right. We needed organization.
The next morning, without milk (it wasn't on any lists), as we made sandwiches for the day's fishing trip, we realized everyone had put back their cheese.
Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to plan.