Saturday, June 26, 2004

Shopping for One

I hate grocery shopping. There's always all these throngs of frazzled people and screaming troll-children. These people sometimes let their troll-children drive the shopping carts. So it's best if you enter the store quickly, hunched in a defensive posture. You have to move very fast, and keep your little hand-basket thingie with the baguette and bottle or two of wine and small assortment of fresh produce--which screams "yeah, I'm single and over thirty, so WHAT?! Wanna make something of it?"--positioned strategically between you and the careening, clashing shopping carts. It's your first line of defense.

The store moves everything on the shelves to a new place, every other week. So you have to walk down every SINGLE friggin' aisle to find what you absolutely, positively cannot leave without. Like toothpaste.

No matter how fast you move, no matter how well you think you've planned your exit, you inevitably end up in a checkout line behind someone pulling not one, but TWO of the big carts, towering with enough groceries to feed Rhode Island through the worst Nor'Easter ever experienced. There is inevitably a very small child in at least one of those two carts.

The small child inevitably wants to stare at you. Perhaps it smiles and makes cutesy faces. Perhaps it only picks its nose.
But sooner or later, it will vomit. ("Spit-up" is the accepted euphemism, I believe. Which sends its unruly siblings into shrill paroxysms of what could either be gross-out, or hysterical amusement.

That's really almost a relief, though--because when the siblings are distracted, they stop asking you personal questions while you're trapped there in the line. Questions like, "EEWwww, are you gonna EAT that? Your kids must HATE you." "Do you really like it?" and "Where are YOUR kids?" and "What do you MEAN you don't have any kids?" They also stop pleading with their exhausted and volatile mother for the candy and other assorted child-bait arranged helpfully right at their eye-level.

You live through this a few times, and think about either going to the grocery store so you can pack a nutritious lunch, or just eating that mystery thing you left on your desk last week when you were avoiding shopping by eating at the Thai street vendor down the block. . .Well, the choice is clear. Leftovers win, hands down.

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