I love to grocery shop, but the weekly outings are often complicated by all the amateurs who are also loading up the carts. Here, then, the Perfect Weekend Provisions Run.
All my stores are gathered under one roof: Trader Joe’s, Target, Cub and Byerly’s are now Traderget Cuberly. There’s an open parking space within a mile of the door. The cart I pull out does not have a wad of tissue paper, so you don’t think the previous user had a cold and sneezed all over the handle. The wheels of the cart go straight and do not shudder like a dog trying to pass a wad of thumbtacks.
The nice man stocking poultry doesn’t ask me if I’m finding everything OK. I always wonder if the issue is whether I’m finding what I need, or finding it to be OK. I mean, I found the sausage, but it’s $4.29, and that is not OK.
I run into the cheerful product-sample lady who says “try some chocolate cake you have no intention of buying?” so I don’t have to take a coupon and pretend I’m going to buy some. “Here, rip up this coupon in front of me!” she says. “I’m tired of the charade as well.” As it turns out, I use the coupon, because it’s good cake, and it’s zero calories per serving, which is a pound.
In the pasta aisle, I actually convince myself that having penne one week and farfalle the next constitutes a significant variation in the Monday pasta habit.
When I pick up some eggs my cellphone rings, and it’s my wife. “Are you at Target? Don’t get eggs. We have 12.”
No one has placed their cart in the middle of the aisle, walked 10 feet away and squatted down to examine the bottom row of cereal like someone who took peyote and is waiting for the mystical insights to flow from the face of Uncle Ben. If someone has blocked an aisle with a cart, she shouts “I am a thoughtless impediment with no awareness of my fellow man” and hands me $5.
The magazines in the checkout aisle have headlines that do not make me feel out of touch with society because they have headlines like KIM BABY HAIR AGONY or SEX BIKINI CHEATING SCARE, all of which sound like telegraph messages from an exceptionally stupid planet.
The person in front of me does not wait until all groceries are bagged before spelunking into an enormous satchel for a checkbook.
When I get home I am able to thread all the bags on my arms and get everything inside on one trip. When I pick up the ice cream I can tell it hasn’t softened at all, and this means it won’t taste like crunchy crystals.
After I’ve put everything away, wife asks: “Where’s that one thing I asked you to get? The thing?” And I look confused and then apologetic — and pull it out of a bag. Of course I did not forget. How could I forget? Things went perfectly.