Monday, January 17, 2011

Just Running to the Store

I spent an hour that morning making fresh salsa for a fabulous fish taco dinner. All that stood between me and an Iron Chef award was cheddar cheese and an avocado.

Apparently, I would have to run to the store. (Cue heart-heavy sigh.)

In the three months since our town's ginormous new Kroger opened, I patronized it once: to procure a bottle of vodka. I'd been frequenting a small locally owned market instead, a place I could get in and out of in half the time.

Alas, the small market, which didn't carry vodka, wasn't likely to carry avocados either. I resigned myself to going Krogering.

I climbed in the car and adjusted my rearview mirror. Holy Mother of God! What Stephen King monster had slithered its way into my minivan? With a second trembling glance, I discerned it was the reflection of my own face, sans makeup. Beauty would be too steep a price to pay though, considering it meant going all the way back into the house. I grabbed my son's baseball cap from the van floor and slipped on my sunglasses. That seems to work well for Lindsay Lohan.

Besides, it was 10 a.m. on a Sunday. Certainly everyone in this small town but me was at church.

Everyone, it appeared, but my perfect neighbor: the one who ran a scrap-booking business from her home, juggled a handful of volunteer positions in the community and homeschooled her six children. Her perfect life left me dazed, when it didn't make me want to puke.

Spying her coming, I bolted toward the next aisle. Then I wandered down the next two. A full three aisles of organic foods in this store. Seriously? At this rate, future generations would never know the pure ambrosia that is a can of beans and wienies.

Figuring I lost Perfect Neighbor, I wheeled down the canned goods aisle. Hmm. Beans and wienies could be the perfect lunch. (Before my healthy dinner of grilled fish tacos. I am all about balance.) I reached, on my tippy-toes, for the top shelf and grabbed two cans. In the process--surely due to clumsy stacking by a stocker--I knocked another can off the shelf. It fell with a thud and exploded. Tomato sauce, speckled with beans and a few wienie bits, oozed onto the floor.

My eyes darted up and down the aisle. No other shoppers in sight. But before I could make a quick escape, a store clerk, maneuvering a hand truck, suddenly appeared. He frowned down at the can and the sauce pooling near my feet.

"Yes, I was just going to report that. Can you believe someone dropped it and just left it there?" I tsk-tsked and steered my cart toward the dairy section.

On my way to the cheese, I pondered my morning. So far, I failed to remember the Sabbath, bore false witness and possibly coveted my neighbor's life. I guessed it might not bode well for my intake interview with St. Peter.

My spirit quickly brightened though, as I passed a display of gelatin and pudding cups. Oh my! Pudding cups! Ten packages for ten dollars! Who could resist such a steal? I filled my cart.

Studying the cheese selections, I attempted a cost-comparison. But one item was broken down by price per pound, while the other brand was labeled with price per ounce. So. God had chosen to chastise me for my morning sins through the most painful of all penances: math.

As I stood there, attempting to divide and multiply and recall any element of fourth-grade arithmetic, I heard someone call my name.


I turned to see Perfect Neighbor, with three of her six Perfect Children in tow.

"Oh. Hey. Hi." I glanced at the group, mother and daughters resplendent in dresses and heels, their hair impeccably coiffed. I tugged at the bill of my baseball cap.

"We're just coming from Mass. Dan and the boys drove separately because they're stopping at the lumber store. Dan's building an addition on our summer home on Lake Michigan. Gosh, isn't this new store wonderful?"

"Yeah. Wonderful. I just ran in for a couple things for tonight's dinner."

I followed her glance to my shopping cart, noting its sole contents: two cans of beans and wienies, and forty pudding cups. Her eyebrows lifted, and then her eyes traveled from my scuffed tennis shoes up to my sweatpants, finally landing on my chest. I glanced down and spotted tomato juice stains sprayed across my sweatshirt.

"Uh-huh," she said. She smiled brightly. "Well, so good to see you."

"You too. Gotta go," I said, whisking my cart away. "Need to make it to 11:00 Mass."

I checked out and quickly retreated to the parking lot. I glanced at my dashboard clock. Running to the store had taken precisely thirty-eight minutes.

The trip cost me $15.78. As well as a complete loss of my pride.

And in the midst of all the fun, I forgot the friggin' avocado.

I ate pudding cups for dinner.

Your Turn: Any shopping horror stories you care to share? How many sins have you committed today? Want to come over for fish tacos?


  1. Oh no! Well, you cracked me up. I hope that's some consolation. You know, I'm fond of the Sunday morning run through the grocery store when everyone else is in church. Although, it's hardly a run. It's more like a plod. With coupons.

  2. If it doesn't have to be a grocery store, I have an embarrassing tale that happened to me in a sporting goods store... don't know if it's blog-proof though! But big thanks for your latest blog of much humor and humiliation.


  3. Line of the day... "coveting my neighbor's life."

    I don't have any good stories from my own shopping, but far too many from being on the other side of the counter.

    An all time favorite was at my first job at the grocery store (Sautters) someone caught a live toad out in the parking lot. They then brought it back to the produce room, put it in one of the produce trays and wrapped it in cellophane, wrote "fresh frog legs" on a sticker and attached it, then put it out with the fruit.

    The owners were not amused. We, however, almost shit ourselves laughing.

    Note: this was not my doing, but I may have suggested the sticker.

  4. Lisa: Yes, "plod" is the perfect word for a typical grocery store trek. Run is only appropriate when we're fleeing from neighbors and exploded cans.

    Distal: Oh I don't know--I'm not sure anything's totally sacred here. I think you should email me that embarrassing story so I can laugh at, I mean, with you.

    Bluz: Ha! And Sautter's is actually the locally owned market I was referring to. Not so sure I'd go back if I found that treasure in the fruit section.

  5. "I'm all about balance" LOL.

    And how classic - go to the groc shop for one thing and come out with everything but. Me. All.The.Time.

  6. I HATE running into people I know at the grocery store. Or people I don't know. Frankly I'd appreciate it if everyone would vacate the premises when I'm around. Is that too much to ask?

  7. Downith: I'm glad I'm in good company. Perhaps we occasionally forget things because we're such overachieving multi-taskers? Yes, that's it.

    Glasseye: I have a good friend who always goes grocery shopping on Friday nights. She said there's never a single soul there except her and a few other losers. Can't speak for your social life, but I'm thinking this could work for me.

  8. I know this is so cliche but LOL!!!

    Yes: I vote for best line: coveting thy neighbor's life. You know we all do it, so I guess I'll get ready for math penance also. I certainly can't think of anything worse.


  9. Murf: I'll see you in line for Confession. (Unless I'm grocery shopping instead.)

  10. That Kroger is absolutely massive. I drove past it last month and about ran off the road trying to undress it with my eyes.

    I, for one, LOVE my Perrysburg Kroger. Why? They double $1 coupons, which makes someone like me happy.

    What flavor of pudding was it?

  11. Amanda: Chocolate, all ten packs. If it's not chocolate, it's not worth the calories. (Although I did buy the sugar-free, fat-free variety. So it's practically a health food.)

  12. Lisa sez: "I'm fond of the Sunday morning run through the grocery store when everyone else is in church."

    Super Bowl Sunday once was Jan's and my favorite day to hit the mall.

  13. Drydiggins: I avoid malls at all cost, but since I never did get those tomato stains out of my favorite sweatshirt, I'm thinking Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect opportunity to go shopping for a new one.

    And thanks for stopping by the blog!