Somebody called me an idiot recently. Had it been a friend, I would have understood and perhaps even agreed with him, but he was a stranger, so there were questions.

I was on a Target run, the store close to the East Hills Mall. I was looking for an HDMI cable for a Blu Ray/DVD player I’d bought. I don’t know what an HDMI cable does and probably never will because it is possible I am “very stupid person.” (Oxford American Dictionary)

I have a drawer full of cables. Everybody does. Cables are like batteries, no matter how many you have, you never have the right one.

I’m sure I owned an HDMI cable before. Probably several. However, I threw them away hoping I would never need one again and then I would have one less thing to think about but now I do and so I am.

I walked toward the electronics department in the back of the store. I chose a 4-foot HDMI cable that works with “Full HD 1080p/4K Ultra HD." There is a good chance I won’t ever understand what those stand for because it is likely I am “a mentally deficient person.”

Cable in hand, I headed for the candy section. Target has a generous candy aisle. I was looking for those tangy orange jelly slices dusted with sugar crystals that deliver an enticing sweet-and-sour punch.

My spirits soared as I approached the candy aisle. Candy is God’s gift to those who don’t want to grow up. It makes me think of the little store down the street from us when we were kids with its jars of gumballs in orange, purple and cinnamon.

I noticed a couple heading toward me who looked to be in their early 70s. He was grizzled, with several days growth. She was weathered, but clean shaven.

As we drew closer, they whispered something to one another. When we passed each other, he looked in my eyes and then away and either said, “There is an idiot” or “You’re an idiot.” Whatever he said, “idiot” was the centerpiece of the sentence.

It’s not every day that somebody calls you an idiot. I wasn’t expecting it and I don’t think I would have been any more surprised had he said, “I think I have found the Savior. In Target, no less.”

There are times in my life I would have bristled if someone had called me an idiot. Taken umbrage. Tumbled into a spirited debate.

However, that time wasn’t this time. What had he seen when he looked in my eyes? Was his observation an act of prescience rather than a precise assessment of my intelligence or misplaced priorities?

I thought about following him, not because I wanted to confront him and argue my case but because I was curious. Instead, I stood there and watched the couple walk away. A man who calls you an idiot may not be the man you want to follow back to Home & Patio.

Instead, I walked to the candy aisle where I encountered a woman wearing a red vest who was restocking the Sour Patch Kids section.

“A customer just called me an idiot,” I said to the woman.

She looked up, trying to assess whether I was an overly sensitive, midday lunatic who wanted her to soothe ruffled feelings or whether my statement was closer to being philosophical, which it was.

“It was funny,” I said. “It’s hard to hide idiot. You think you’re doing a pretty good job of disguising idiot but it leaks out anyway.”

“Yes, it makes you wonder how he knew,” she mused.

She laughed. I laughed. We had a moment.

Target didn’t have orange slices so I ordered five pounds on Amazon. Who does that? I have a few ideas and at least one person who would agree with me.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.

(3) comments


I dont care what HeJo and Ed think. Those dudes gotta lighten up a tad. I like Herbs stories.I like the way he thinks and how he writes about what he thinks. And that old dude in Target,,,,,hah! i can just see some miserable old geezer grumbling to himself because he has to be in a Target when he wants to be at the bar. Keep it up Herb!.


Maybe he mistook you for Bob Price ?


What a asked for it.

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