Some people enjoy going to the supermarket. I am NOT one of those people. The only part of grocery shopping that I like is when it’s over.
I usually go shopping with Little D when Little M is in school to decrease my odds of having a nervous breakdown somewhere in between the bread aisle and the frozen vegetables, so my experiences will reflect that. If you’re lucky enough to have the pleasure of shopping by yourself then your trips are likely less painful, but maybe not any more enjoyable. And if you have the misfortune of always shopping with several kids in tow, then I’m incredibly sorry to hear that. I hope you never find your three year old hiding in the dairy case atop a pile of string cheese after a terrifying five minutes spent frantically combing every aisle with your four other kids looking for him. True story (though not mine, thankfully).
So allow me to take you on a journey filled with fruits, vegetables, toilet brushes and more to demonstrate my disdain for the wretched activity called food shopping. Maybe I’ll even pick you up a gallon of milk and some ice cream along the way.
The fun begins before I even step into the store with shopping cart selection. I don’t know if I’m walking around with an invisible wagon-shaped black cloud over my head, but it never seems to fail that I should end up with a broken cart. Even if I try taking a few for a test-drive or at least skipping over the dilapidated ones, it doesn’t seem to matter. You never know if you’ve picked the most spastic cart until you are already in the store with a kid strapped in the front and at least three items nestled snugly inside. Sometimes I’ll see one that looks good— minimal rust and a seemingly smooth ride—but that is always the one with dirty tissues, crumpled up flyers, and someone’s grocery list littered along the bottom. So I’ve decided to give up trying. The sooner I grab a cart and go, the sooner this will all be over and I’ll be driving home in the privacy of my own SUV, shamelessly ripping into the box of peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies that I totally bought for the kids.
My tour through the produce section is usually uneventful, aside from occasionally getting sprayed in the face by those annoying sprinklers they use to water the greens. After produce I head to the deli counter to purchase cold cuts for dinner because grocery shopping leaves me too traumatized to cook. The deli counter is one of those places where having even one person ahead of you means you will inevitably be waiting forever for them to mess up your order. Either your meat is being sliced by an angry teenager who would rather be at home playing Call of Duty and he takes it out on your Boars Head ham, or a partially deaf older lady who always gives you a half pound when you wanted a whole one (I said “HAVE,” not “HALF”). You always go home feeling a little empty as you make your sandwich, wondering might have been if only they’d gotten it right…
So next I’m off to the non-perishables. I have a thing with dented cans. I don’t like them. When I was a kid someone once told me you could get botulism from a dented can and that all your muscles would immediately be paralyzed and you’d suffocate or have a massive heart attack or something terrible like that and basically drop dead three seconds later. I suppose they weren’t aware of the level of hypochondria they were dealing with, seeing as I’m still petrified of this even today and I don’t even know if it’s true. Either way I’d like to travel back in time just to slap them in their stupid face for scaring the crap out of a little kid like that. I don’t know why restaurants can be fined for having dented cans but supermarkets are over there selling them at full price and shit. Have you ever noticed that when a can is dented, EVERY single can of that particular brand and product is also dented? Is there like some pissed off stock boy standing in the back room crying and bouncing green beans off the wall because his girlfriend just broke up with him?
So next I’m at the dairy case having flashbacks to the time when Little M was younger and he reached behind him in the cart and grabbed the egg carton and started throwing eggs all over the floor while my back was turned. That was fun.
By the time we make it to the checkout line, Little D has gotten tired of sitting in the cart and begins attempting to escape. She is usually successful. I actually once caught her like a football while we were waiting in line at Costco. So I then have to hold her with one hand while placing $200 worth of items on the belt with my other hand. And with my third hand, I usually try to keep her from pressing buttons on the credit card machine and ripping Tic Tacs off the shelves.
The cashier then asks if I have any coupons. I say no, because coupons are way too stressful for me handle (stay tuned for a future entry about my thoughts on extreme couponing). Then the cashier looks at me like I’m a complete moron and hands me a stack of crappy coupons for stuff like lactose-free protein shakes or half priced stool softener and then reminds me to remember my coupons next time.
I’m out of the danger zone now and heading back to the car, but the fun doesn’t end there. Something is surely going to fall out of my cart. A bag of potatoes will get loose, or paper towels will lose their way, or if my day really sucks, my eggs will get fried on the parking lot pavement.
So then I’m finally home. Now it’s time to bring Little D into the house and leave her temporarily unsupervised while I run back and forth with seemingly endless shopping bags. When I walk in the door I find her standing on the dog, eating a piece of cheese she must have found on her highchair or something, and I suddenly feel nauseous because I don’t recall her actually having cheese with any of her meals or snacks today. I then proceed to spend the next hour putting away what feels like Pathmark’s entire inventory, and resist the urge to punch Big M in his Big Face when he gets home from work and complains that I forgot to buy his Lactaid milk so that he can consume his usual three bowls of cereal a half hour before I put dinner on the table.
Three days pass and I begin to wonder if there is a secret fifth person hiding out in the house somewhere who steals all the food at night because the fridge is already bare and $200 worth of groceries have vanished into thin air. I reluctantly remind myself to repeat the process all over again tomorrow.
I better put Excedrin on my grocery list this time.