I'm a moderately whiny person. If you haven't figured that out yet. I used to be an extremely outspoken person, until I moved to Canada, and then that loud-mouthedness sort of waned a little as I realized that not everyone gives a shit about my opinion. THAT is a very American thing. (No offense, fellow Americans, but you do tend to see things a little differently when you live away from your home country for a while.) Americans are loud. We have big mouths. We have opinions about everything. If you disagree, and likely you will if you're American, and likely you will comment or e-mail to tell me I'm wrong, that Americans are a docile group of peacemakers, to which all of the commenters from foreign countries will call you a Crazy Yankee, which is TOTALLY MY POINT, it's because you've never lived anywhere but America for more than a year at a time. Try it. I dare you to not see that we tend to be the loudest, most obnoxious SOBER people in the pub. (Note: Once alcohol is introduced, all bets are off. Especially until I can get to Ireland and conduct a scientific investigation involving serious quantities of Guinness to prove my hypotheses and formulate an educated conclusion.)
|You're welcome. *slurp slurp*|
ANYWAY: Back to the whining. I tend to whine loudest when I have to do things I hate doing. Like a two-year-old in a hot car on a long road trip through the San Joaquin Valley where the windows can't be rolled down because of the dust and I'm out of Goldfish and Cheerios and my diaper's wet and the dumb dog stole my Sippee cup and I haven't had a nap and I can't sleep, anyway, because the driver thinks she's Kelly-friggin-Clarkson and won't stop singing even though she's causing deafness in animals for miles around, goddammit! *ahem* Because I have a herd of children, there is always something I'm supposed to be doing for someone else, often that I loathe, but I do it because it I don't, I look like an asshole. The Other Moms don't freak out when they have to unload dishes or fold laundry. The Other Moms devote lots of time to the various fundraising activities. The Other Moms don't go into the kitchen at 5:15 p.m. and start slamming things around.
That's because the Other Moms are mindless sheep.
Or maybe it's because they're better people than me. That's more likely the case.
As a result of my ongoing struggle with my lack of maternal perfection, I whine very loudly about grocery shopping. I. HATE. FOOD. I'm not one of those people who wants to be a foodie or wants to know foodies or likes watching cooking shows or reads dumb foodie magazines or who gets a boner over sloppy pictures online of a filet mignon prepared creatively with the shredded heart muscle of a wildebeest and freshly plucked, shaved tuber tendrils with orange sauce or who gives a rat's ass about the best time of the year to eat _________________ or what foods complement each other or WHATEVER.
My daily menu? Bowl of cereal in the morning, likely Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms. The more sugar, the better. (The healthy stuff makes me fart.) Around noon, and after at least two cups of coffee, I start to feel jittery and gross. That's usually my sign that I should eat something else. Granola bar is up next. Maybe a banana. That makes the jitters stop. Midafternoon snack is an open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Dinner is whatever I'm forced to make for the children. THIS is the extent of my interest in all things culinary. If it doesn't come in a package or take fewer than five minutes to make or involve the words "sealed for your protection," then it ain't for me.
So going grocery shopping presses all those buttons that piss me off. FIRST, I hate tight parking lots. I don't like jostling for spaces amongst other dumb people who think they have every right to be there but in truth, they're only there because I haven't used the laser beam hidden under my hair to vaporize them. After we park, there is the question of finding a suitable coin to rent a cart. (Yes, in Canada, you have to have a coin to free a shopping cart from the caddy. You get it back when you return the cart, but no quarter, no cart-y.) Likely I will be faced with waiting for some ridiculously slow person with a stumpy leg and two canes and a bad eye trying to free a cart, although he keeps dropping his quarter because his gnarled, arthritic hands are like blobs of bent flesh and he has absolutely no hand-eye coordination left in the one milky eye through which he stares at me. And then I feel obligated to help said person load his oxygen tank, not because I'm nice but because I want him to get the hell out of the way so I can get this misery over with.
|Proof. Dumb, EH?|
Inside, the fun really begins. It's crowded. Even the kindergarten teacher is here, as I discover while debating the price of extra lean ground beef versus ground turkey, and if the children will notice the difference. (Save me the vegetarian speech. I was a veg for six years and nearly starved to death. Why? Because I hate vegetables. Woman cannot exist on diet Coke and Red Vines. Actually, that's a lie. She can. I did. Likely to the detriment of my now-hollow bones.) We shop at a discount grocery store because food in Canada is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. We fill our basket with extreme frugality: this morning, we dropped $308, for a week's worth of food for five people, three of whom are still wee. We're not talking name brands, either. And very little meat. Too expensive. We shop the sales. We buy healthy crap (boring) and splurge only occasionally on the family-size back of Chips Ahoy (Kendon's favorite). Lots of soup. Pasta. Dog food (for the dog -- we don't eat the dog food). So, YEAH, eating is expensive here.
But beyond the cost, what is the POINT of food? Why doesn't someone invent a pill or a paste or some way that all of our nutritional needs can be met without the need to spend SO MUCH TIME and MONEY wasted on something that we will enjoy for mere moments and then shit out within 24 to 48 hours? I am vexed.
The next set of problems presents itself: My fingers are sticky from touching the handle of the cart and I forgot to grab the Purell out of the car. Then there's the malodorous, morbidly obese woman in the Hawaiian-inspired muumuu with the flaking skin and feet shoved in sandals, revealing toes begging to be dipped in fungicide who's totally blocking the bread aisle with her cart that is loaded with enough processed food to see a small country through the apocalypse. There's the hipster who's Too Cool for School as he dances down the fruit aisle to music only he hears and then totally bogarts all the fresh raspberries for his smoothies. Then there's the new-to-town folks who don't understand the very culture-centric concept of Personal Dance Space and as such are standing WAY TOO CLOSE to me and I can smell not only what they had for breakfast but that they likely haven't showered in a week or so, and it's making me a little bilious. Top this shit off with a rush on toothpaste because it's on sale AND the fact that there's an empty shelf where the peppermint tea used to live, which pisses me off in a way only a tax auditor can.
FOOD IS SO UNINSPIRING.
By the time I get to the register, I'm three Xanax away from an inpatient stay.
|Not me at the grocery store.|
But the fun ain't over yet, folks, nooooooo, there's more. We have to pack our own groceries into the bags that we brought with us to the store. Customer service? Uhhhh, huh? Speak'a da English? No customer service here. The checker shoving your shit down the conveyor is as good as it gets. She might grace you with a smacked bubble from the
cud gum she's got stuffed in her maw. Even the oxygenated stump-legged pirate from the shopping cart caddy is struggling to shove his bratwurst and Hungry Man dinners into his cloth shopping bags, which is a virtual impossibility considering he needs to keep himself upright with both hands solidly on both canes. His checker stands, watches, checking her text messages, while her lane, Aisle Five, line piles up with impatient, sighing customers. No one wants to help the almost-blind arthritic guy, even after the plastic tube to his oxygen tank disconnects and a strange hissing sound is coming from the child seat of his shopping cart.
What do I do? You're thinking I went over to help him.
Nope. Instead, I dig into my purse, into my Emergency Tools Pocket (every girl should have one of these: pocket knife, sewing kit, cyanide tablets), and I extract THIS:
|Mine was black, actually.|
I walk over to Aisle Five and this is how it goes -- I'm in red. Tanya the checker's in blue:
"Hi, Tanya the Checker. Put your phone down and help this poor fellow."
"Excuse me? What, are you my mother?"
"If I were your mother, I would've drowned you years ago. Now help this guy."
"Fu*k off, four-eyes."
At that point, I step closer.
"Hey, I know you're probably texting your boyfriend about the fact that your rash has gotten worse, but can you hear that hissing sound?"
Tanya listens for a moment. "Yeah. I hear it. So?"
"Do you notice how this poor fellow in your line is turning a weird shade of blue?"
"Yeah. I guess."
Then I pull out the lighter:
"Checker Tanya, that hissing sound is his oxygen tank. The little plastic tube is disconnected, which means pure oxygen is spilling from the little silver hole thingie in the tank. Before dropping out of seventh grade, did you learn that oxygen + flame = BOOM?"
At this point, Tanya stops chomping her gum.
Me, lighter held steady: "I think you should help Mr.--" [I lean over to Mr. ___________ whose milky eye is now VERY wide as he stares at the lighter.]
The man says, "Gunderson. Bob Gunderson."
"Thank you, Bob Gunderson. Now, Checker Tanya, I think you should help Bob Gunderson with his groceries and stop being an asshole, or I'm going to flick this lighter and make that text you sent your last words. Are we clear?"
Tanya nods aggressively and moves realllllllly quickly. Everyone is super quiet. I like it when it's quiet. Except for the biddies on Aisle Four:
"Is she a terrorist?"
"No. With all those Lucky Charms, she's gotta be a mom."
Between you and me, the lighter was dead.
The only downside to being in the back of this police cruiser, other than the fact that it's sticky and the seat's hard and it smells unholy? I won't get my quarter back from the cart caddy.
Xs and Os, lovelies ...