The other day, I went grocery shopping. I don’t know how you shop, but I have a feeling it’s not all that different from how I do it. It always starts out the same way, by heading to a big supermarket to try and purchase everything I need in one place. The shopping experience quickly slides downhill from there.
I arrive at the store with a scribbled, crumpled piece of paper containing about half a list of things I really need, with the other items stored safely in my head, repeated like a religious mantra until they are securely stowed in the cart. (Eggs, milk, juice, butter. Eggs, milk, juice, butter. Eggs, milk…you get the point.) This is then combined with spontaneous discoveries made up and down each aisle. (“Oh! Muffin tins! Didn’t I need new ones?” or, “Look! Capri Sun is on sale. Let me buy 4 of them.”)
Undoubtedly, however, two things happen. One: the store does not have the brand, shape, flavor or manner of mozzarella cheese sticks preferred by my son (or yogurt, cereal, turkey, fill-in-the-blank), and Two: I forget one crucial, critical item needed to make an actual meal. Like a chicken.
Forty-five minutes later, the trunk of my SUV is filled with over a hundred dollars worth of mostly snack items. These are stored in plastic bags instead of my oversized, burlap recyclable bags because I left those in the car. Again.
Glaring at me from the list of things not yet purchased are 5 or 6 items that can only be found at specialty stores. Two of the items are at Trader Joes’s but not Mrs. Green’s. Three of the items are at Mrs. Green’s but not Whole Foods and one of the items can only be found at an ethnic foods store on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
Two hours and 16 grocery stores later, I make it home. I am exhausted and my head is spinning. I have been to the butcher as well as to all the stores mentioned above.
I am only missing three items from my list now, and am feeling much closer to the finish line of this week’s market marathon.
As I’m unpacking, the phone rings. It’s Brett, my husband.
“Hey,” he says. “How’s your day?”
“Just tremendous!” I declare. “I’m unpacking the groceries.”
“I hope you didn’t buy more couscous.” He warns.
“Why?” I pause, holding in my hand at that very moment three boxes of couscous.
“Because we have like 10 boxes already. Remember? I declared this ‘couscous awareness week.’ Everyone needs to check and see how much they have before heading to the store.”
“I thought this was ‘get your ketchup under control week.’”
“That was two weeks ago.”
“Huh.” I hide the new couscous behind the ketchup in the pantry and quickly try to get off the phone.
“I have to go,” I tell him. “I need to get over to the vegetable stand before writing an article about going over to the vegetable stand.”
“Okay,” he relents. “So…what’s for dinner?”
“Pizza!” I smile.