I’ve been doing the grocery shopping lately to help out my wife. I should have known that I needed a crash course in grocery shopping for dummies.
I think the last time I was in a grocery store prior to this was November 13, 1955. Yes, the grocery store had been invented by then.
On my initial trip, my first confrontation was with a head of lettuce. I mean, how do you tell a good head of lettuce? Sure it’s green. Everyone of them is green.
I can’t stand there and ask all of them how they’re doing today, and which one is the most eligible to be eaten. People would consider I had lost about seventeen marbles out of the thirty marble package they used to sell.
“Attention lettuce, which one of you is good enough to go home with me today.”
In days gone by, a couple of ladies chattering close by would have said almost simultaneously, “He’s lost his mind.”
People today might be a little more reserved, and only turn their heads as a dog would do in a curious manner.
I made my choice, and moved on to the tomatoes.
Tomatoes come in three varieties. Those that are green, those that are overripe, and those that are neither. It’s that third one where I have to decide, the ones that are beginning to redden. I know in tomatoes past my wife has bought, she had to be careful, because that overripeness can fool you.
I must admit I hadn’t entered the next event as one I listed among my hazards at the grocery store. I was standing there, picking up the tomatoes one at a time, looking at them closely, and squeezing them slightly.
A well-defined lady came by with her grocery cart at that precise moment, stopped, stared at me, and in her mind, slapped me.
I chose three tomatoes rather quickly, watched to make sure the lady had rounded the corner to go to another aisle, and moved on.
I’ve loved milk all my life. You do have to look at the sale dates to make sure it is fresh. I examined all the bottles, while the milk manager was eyeing me, in what I’d call not a good manner. I reached to the back of the shelf, pulled out two half gallons with sale dates a couple of weeks away, and maneuvered the cart for the next aisle. Actually, I stopped my cart just before coming in full view of the next aisle, and peeped around the corner to make sure the tomato lady wasn‘t there.
One of my assignments for the day was to buy a can of tomato sauce for spaghetti my wife was planning that night. Simple enough. No. Have you checked lately to see how many different kinds of tomato sauce are on grocery shelves? I must have scanned the cans for fifteen minutes before I found the right one.
I came to the candy, one of my favorite snacks. Have you checked the price of a six-pack of candy lately? I looked around for a sign that said, “A portion of the purchase price you pay for this candy will go to pay off the national debt.” I was thinking if people all over the country went to the grocery store on the same day, and bought the candy, we’d be out of debt totally.
When I arrived at the meat market I looked for three things. The tomato lady, a paramedic, and an armed guard. The tomato lady was nowhere to be seen. (maybe she’d left the store). I figured when people saw the price of the meat, they’d need to be resuscitated by a paramedic. And the armed guard would be guarding something more costly than money.
I did manage a couple of packages of ground sirloin. We used to eat ground beef until the cooking resulted in about two gallons of stand-alone grease, with enough grease still left on the meat to require a full bottle of something to survive it from the drugstore.
I was in a splurging mood. I bought a T-bone. We weren’t going to eat it, just take it out of the freezer from time to time, and look at it to remember the time we could buy a T-bone and eat it.
Sandwich bread was next. I blindly rounded the corner to that aisle. My next book will be entitled “When Grocery Carts Collide”. The tomato lady. Normally I’d profusely apologize, but considering our previous encounter, I was afraid I’d blurt out, “I’m sorry, you well-defined lady.”
I remained silent. She backed away, swung wide, and stared so intently as she passed by me, I looked to see if that six-pack of candy I had put in the cart, and was pretending to buy, had melted.
My only solace was the customers who happened to see the two of us meet didn’t know the whole story. But human nature being what it is, in my mind I thought they did, and that made it worse.
Now for my last chore. Returning my beloved candy to its rightful shelf. It had ridden in my cart for a few aisles, and that was some comfort. I know people don’t normally hold a memorial for candy. I did stand there for fifteen seconds of silence.
I cautiously approached the checkout. No tomato lady.
The fellow taking my groceries to the car did make a comment that would have been made only among men. “Did you see that lady?”
I answered, “What lady?”
When I got home, my wife asked me how the shopping had gone. I did my utmost to sound bland.