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Episodes of ‘alligator arms’ happen

Better Half and I get a kick out of the GEICO commercial where a group has finished eating dinner in a restaurant, and it’s time to pay the bill.

The alligator at the table of humans says the meal’s on him, that he’s picking up the tab, but his “alligator arms,” his lame attempt to reach for the check so conveniently far, far away for his short, short arms, keep the not-so-sincere gesture in the not-gonna’-happen department and his wallet undisturbed.

The alligator’s meal partners are all rolling their eyes, of course, not surprised at what apparently is a familiar scenario and a typical outcome.

We laugh when we see that commercial because we’re inclined to have our “alligator arms” moments with each other.

Last weekend, for example, we went out to eat after church, taking a scenic drive on what was a beautiful sunny afternoon. I’d suggested that we patronize this restaurant and enjoy the buffet, confident that whatever was on it was going to be way, way better than anything I would have cooked.

And I said the magic words to make the outing hard to resist — “my treat.”

So off we go to the restaurant where we stuff ourselves silly at the buffet, Better Half getting my money’s worth, which is fine.

I pay the bill and do the math for the tip, even innocently asking his advice, thinking surely he’ll get the hint and chip in a little, but he mumbled something about not wanting to break a five and excused himself to the restroom.

“Alligator arms.”

Then we stop and do a little shopping on the way home. I found a pair of jeans. Yipee for me. So did Better Half, which he handed to me in the checkout line, minus any contributions to cover the cost. Bigger yipee for him.

Somehow the “my treat” evidently was being interpreted for the duration of the outing.

Except at the gas station.

There are two things I don’t like about getting gas.

I don’t like to pump it, and I don’t like to pay for it.

My turn for “alligator arms.”

I reach for my purse on all gas stops, of course, and dig dutifully for my wallet that I can never quite get my hands on to help fund the fuel fill-up.

I’m never successful, which Better Half has noticed through the years and comments on from time to time.

My defense is always that gas for the car is a manly thing to do and pay for, and besides, I enjoy the sight of him inspecting the contents of his wallet that are about to go bye-byes.

We give each other the “who’s-paying-look” in the grocery checkout line, too.

It’s part strategy, part game, how that turns out, which is determined by who’s in front of the buggy closest to the register, who’s intentionally distracted by the whole process, preoccupied with putting things on the checkout counter for processing.

I always like when Better Half pays with “his” money, but the clerk gives me the change. Sweet.

One thing I know for sure. “Alligator arms” won’t keep us from eating out again, but maybe different magic words are in order next time.

“Let’s go dutch.”

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daly Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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