Friday, October 09, 2009

Notes on a lost civilization (or: How I learned to stop worrying and love grocery shopping)

Grocery shopping has long been a male ritual in my family. I think my mom has been grocery shopping three or four times, and only because my dad was recovering from surgery each time. Otherwise, my father does it. He has turned the drudgery of grocery shopping into a sweet science. One cart- that's all he needs, no matter how many groceries he is buying. Many a time I've been regaled with tales of his grocery shopping exploits, usually involving the phrase "If I can fit groceries for a family of six into one cart...."

I've always said that if a man wants to eat, he needs to learn to cook. Well, if a man wants to cook, he has to get the groceries. So I took a trip to Wal-Mart today to pick up some things. These are my reflections on the journey.

-Note to all women- when shopping for a pair of pants, take special note as to whether your butt crack is visible whilst bending or crouching. There are certain things a man does not need to see. "Pervert!", you cry. "If you can't keep your eyes to yourself, you're the one with the problem!" All very true. If a man has to go through head contortions to take a peek, then he has a problem. If your ass chasm is hanging out for even the smallest child to see, the problem is yours.

-The rules of the aisle way should be just like the rules of the road. Drive on the right, pass on the left. Do not stop your cart in the middle of the aisle and just stand there. I need to purchase soup too, and in order to do so, I need to see what is available. On a related note, if I am obviously perusing the selections of Chunky and Progresso, do not pull right in front of me and stop. Simply say "excuse me", and I will move out of your way. My life will not end if I can't grab that delicious can of Hearty Tomato in the next 60 seconds. Neither will yours.

-Don't just barrel your way from the end of the aisle into the clearing on your way to the next. Stop, look and listen. That's all I'm saying.

-Pink labels are everywhere. For good cause. Do we even have to ask if people are against breast cancer? Is anyone answering "no" to this survey? But here's some food for thought- men get it too. It may "only" be one man for every hundred women, but men get it too.

-If I am with my child and he or she begins to make unusual noises, perhaps flapping his arms while doing so, or even laughing hysterically over nothing at all, do not stare and do not gawk. Smile if you have to do something, and then be on your way. If my child is throwing a wicked tantrum, I do not need your condescending glances. My children are autistic. What's your excuse?

-There is one aisle I DO NOT DO. I am not going to tell you what it is, but if I was mountain climbing on snow and ice, I might need my crampons. Let he who has ears to hear, let him hear.

-Every grocery shopping excursion ends with the mad checkout hunt. You know you have more than twenty items, but you count anyway to see if you can squeeze through. I have news for you- you aren't the only one who is counting. If you try to slip 35 items past, I can guarantee you more than one person behind you knows how many you have.

-The cashier is a man or a woman simply marking time until they get to go home. They aren't your friend; they aren't your therapist. They don't want to know that pinto beans give you wicked diarrhea; they could care less that you really need those Trojans tonight. And I don't care either. I just want to go home. Remember: you are NOT the only one shopping today.

-In aisle number 6, amidst the Red Lobster gift cards and the Lifesavers, they are selling a product called Soft Lips. The slogan for Soft Lips reads: "Soft Lips... because lips should be soft." Oh boy.

If laughter is the best medicine, then the checkout aisle provides the next cure for cancer in the form of the supermarket tabloid. Let's take a peek at the Pulitzer Prize-winning material on display, shall we?
-"What He Thinks During Sex!" Umm, I think I can answer that for you. We don't.
-"Foreplay Men Crave! Touch His Secret Erotic Spot (Surprise: It Doesn't Rhyme With Shmenis)" Maybe not. Smart money is on shank, shunk or even schtick.
-"The Crazy, Dirty, Worried and Yes, Sweet Stuff That Goes Through His Mind When You Two Get Naked!"
Crazy- "I wonder if we can do it on the roof this time."
Dirty- "I wonder if we can do it in the mud this time."
Worried- "I wonder why she doesn't want to do it in front of the camera this time."
Sweet- (visions of creative uses of strawberries and whipped cream)
-"The Gosselin Kids To Jon and Kate: Stop Wrecking Our Lives!" The Gosselin viewers to Jon and Kate: Stop wrecking OUR lives!
-"Khloe Kardashian Slams Critics: Stop Calling Me Fat!" Umm... who the hell is this woman?
-And speaking of all things Kardashian, how did these women get famous? What did they do? Did they win an award? Do they run a children's hospital? Or do they just have big boobs? Monty, I go with door number 3....
-"Elizabeth Smart: Her Fight For Justice!" Her fight should also be with the tabloid writers and "news" personalities who continue to make her front page material. Here's a thought- this girl has been through hell and back and through hell again. Just leave her alone already.

And once my food is paid for, I am on my way out the door. But wait: there's more. Because sandwiched between each set of exit doors is a wall which contains other vendors. A bank. An H&R Block office. Customer Service. And a place where people are getting pedicures. Oh my. Why? When I am hungry and on my way to my car so I can break into the Junior Mints, why, oh why do you want to put your fat, ugly feet on display like that? And I can only peer into the abyss and wonder what those poor workers are thinking. They are probably cursing the events of life that brought them to this point, and praying for the sweet release that only death can bring.

And off to my car I go, visions of the chicken paprikash I will be making for dinner tonight dancing in my head.


Blogger Brian said...

Great stuff. You've managed to coalesce the vapors of most of my shopping experiences.

But I'm assuming you mean Giant Vulture and not Wal-Mart? There's a whole other blog entry on the unique experience that is grocery shopping at Wal-Mart...

6:20 PM  

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