Lately I’ve been going to the grocery store. I realize that this may not seem like such a grand undertaking to most of you but for me it has been a giant leap into advanced adulthood if much belated. Now I did not begin his new behavioral change willingly or gladly. As is the usual case, I was dragged kicking and screaming by the already entrenched life patterns of a new significant other. You know the kind I mean the ones that actually buy unprocessed food items. I’m not talking acceptable microwavable “food units,” but raw products that require thought and preparation.
Since entering into this strange and exotic new land, I have been shocked, dismayed, and angered all in their turn by what actually goes on in there. Where do these people come from? Didn’t anyone ever clue these folks into the intricacies of grocery store etiquette? It’s more like a demolition derby than the weekly re-supplying of the family larder. I was totally unprepared for the carnival atmosphere I was thrown into.
Just for starters, how about everyone keeps to the right! For Lord’s sake, it’s just like driving a car. If you’re not in the main traffic flow, pull over on the berm! Obviously, this is too much to ask as most people park their carts smack dab in the center of the aisle. This wouldn’t be so bad if the person in question was capable of taking even the smallest hint. Nothing rude, just a simple “excuse me please” accompanied with a smile and a reasonable amount of eye contact, exactly like your Mama taught you. This type of behavior, this civil manner, will not be rewarded. Inevitably my gaze is met (if they look at me at all) by some strangely bovine like creature’s blank expression, slack mouth, and I get the odd idea that unbeknownst to me I’ve begun speaking in Chinese or some strange Aboriginal dialect. I check this with my counterpart; no, he assures me that my ability to speak English is still intact. Then why is this person looking at me as if I was some weird jungle fauna?
By this time the aisle is in gridlock, nobody is moving and nobody much likes it. It’s beginning to get ugly. I make my way to the meat section where again someone is parked allowing no access to the foodstuffs. I’m beginning to suspect that possibly this woman (it just happens to be a woman, no sexist insult intended) is attempting to hold the chickens hostage. If I throw some pasta will it distract her? Am I going to be eating chicken this week or should I begin rethinking the entire vegetarian thing all over again.
After disentangling myself, I proceed to the next aisle of lovely American food item. A display of rotating crepe paper, glittery letters, and a waving dog paw almost convince me to fill my cart with dog food when I suddenly remember that I don’t even have a dog. While I’m mulling over the seductive nature of advertising (at the same time trying to locate the exact can of peas I have a coupon for) I’m interrupted by something pulling at my skirt. Looking down I see a small child yanking on my clothing! Who does “this” belong to, and where is the parental unit in charge? I came here for food, sustenance, not to be molested by … oh my God! There are more of them!
I’m enlightened of this fact by a grocery cart bashing into the back of my legs, forcing me to double over my own cart in pain. Who gave this child a cart to careen through the store with? There’s a screaming baby in the child seat, who looks like he’s about ready to explode. Half an aisle down an obviously overwrought young woman is filling her basket. I’m no dummy. Those kids look just like her and they’re calling her Mommy, I bet they belong to her. You would never be able to ascertain this from her behavior. She’s oblivious to the fact that her offspring after accosting me are bouncing off the walls. Did she feed them intravenous sugar before she turned them loose in the store? I just stand there glaring at her, rubbing my ankles where bruises are already beginning to appear.
Each new aisle presents a new brand of terror. There is not two spare feet where it’s safe from conflict of one sort or another. Trying to catch my breath by the frozen foods, I notice two people, grown people, screaming expletives at each other. It’s another cart dispute but these two are getting close to blows. While I’m no puritan as far as language goes, and it takes a great deal to offend me, somehow two middle aged people calling each other mother-fuckers over the frozen fish is a little hard to swallow. In the back of my mind a nasty thought is percolating. I’m beginning to thing that the NRA is right, and that an Uzi would be a worthwhile thing to have in hand right now.
To say the least by the time I get to the checkout line I’m suffering from shopping-shock, both my body and sensibilities are battered, seemingly beyond repair. I think I’ve found my mantra, “Let me out, let me out,” but its not enough to save me. As I stand in the check out line with the required food stuffs for the week grateful that I’ve gotten this far alive, a voice bellows out at me. “You! Twelve items only!” Knowing that I probably have fifteen, I scuttle past the other disgruntled shoppers who glare at me as if I had just run over a newborn puppy and find another line to stand in. Am I really that hungry?