I’ll admit it’s been a while since I pushed a buggy through the aisles of the local fil-a-sack, but could it really have changed that much?
I didn’t venture into the bowels of Hell of my own volition. My wife usually does the shopping. (Before you get your panties in a feminist wad, it’s because she gets off work four hours before I do.) But when I opened the fridge yesterday to pitcher with a half-inch of Kool-Aid in the bottom and an expired bottle of ketchup, it was evident that if I wanted to eat, I would have to shop for myself.
I knew things had changed when I walked through the door. When, exactly, did management feel it necessary to post a greeter at the front door? Sure, purchasing a box of Ding-Dongs and tampons is close to a religious experience, but this is not a church.
If the woman who greeted me upon my arrival had toned down the makeup a tad, she could have found employment with Barnum and Bailey. The shrill voice that bleated “Marrrrr-ning!” as I grabbed my cart forced a trickle of blood out of my right ear.
I remember grocery shopping with my mother when I was young. Begging for the artificially flavored, sugar-coated Sugar Flake Cereal with the cheap piece of plastic inside all the while hanging off the buggy with it’s one wobbly wheel was a weekend ritual that ranked right up there with Saturday morning cartoons.
My buggy on this day had no fewer than three misaligned wheels. Together, we clopped and shimmied down aisle after aisle to the beat of our own rhythmically-challenged drummer. It was all I could do to steer clear of the roving hoards shopping with me.
More accurately, they were more akin to geriatric gangs — tribes of blue-haired women revving their electric shopping carts and throwing gang signs like the Crips of the Canned Goods. They laughed. They gossiped. They compared coupons. And they shot me the stink-eye more than once as I muscled my between their carts and the cake mix display.
I felt bad for the single worker in the deli. It was obvious to the half-dozen of us assembled for specially sliced meat that the man was ill. The iron in his blood had plainly turned to lead in his ass. Glaciers shuffled south across North America more quickly than he crossed the meat counter. And please, don’t confuse the man with an odd request, like honey-baked ham. It induces a head-scratching mumble-fest.
Basket full, I trundled my way to the checkout. Somehow, the Crips had passed me. They perused the magazine rack at the only open register and whispered to each other about their favorite of the 113 sex tips in this month’s Cosmo. I grabbed a Snickers, because I’m not my usual jovial self when I grocery shop.
On the way home, I stopped at the Shop-and-Rob for a case of beer. And THAT is why I didn’t write yesterday.