McIrish does most of the grocery shopping in our household. He is something of a control freak about this, bless his little chef’s heart. But I like to go for completely different reasons than feeding our family. It’s more of a social outing for me.
This is the store I’ve been going all my adult life, so I know all the cashiers. “Hi, Mala! Hi, Barbara! Hi, Yolanda!” Yolanda is especially dear to me, since my son proposed to her when he was five, and she was, oh, thirty-six, and she said to look her up when he was 21. I might show Yolanda a picture of Dearest. If my son is with me, he always goes over to say hi, the sweet boy.
I like to stroll through the market. I visit the orchids in the florist department and consider buying another. I pretend to wash my hair in the mist that sprays the veggies, which used to delight and now mortifies the kids. I go down every aisle, smiling at babies, wondering if I can justify buying Pop-Tarts.
Inevitably, I see an old friend and stop to chat. “Hi, Nancy! How’s Gerry?” or “Nana! Hello! What are you making for dinner?” These chats are half the reason I go.
Being tall, I am inevitably asked to help a tiny little old lady to get something off a high shelf, which makes me feel holy. If I see a gentleman with a veteran’s cap on, I thank him and asked what he did in the military. I linger in front of the baked goods, then decide I can make everything better at home and move on. In the book section, I check to see if one of my titles is for sale. If I see friends’ books, I take pictures of them and text them. “Look! You’re famous! You’re in my grocery store!” I’ll say.
I go to the human check-out lines; I hate the automatic ones, and that voices: “Yogurt, eighty-nine cents. Yogurt, eighty-nine cents. Yogurt, eighty-nine cents,” drives me crazy. Plus, I can’t read the tabloids if I go to self-checkout. What’s this? Prince Harry is still adorable? And this? Angelina Jolie is on her twentieth marriage? Oooh, a gardening magazine! Should I bring it home for McIrish?
I probably spend five times longer at the market than my dear husband, and I inevitably forget something critical, like half-and-half. He gives me that Irish martyred look he’s perfected over the years, adding a sigh to ensure I know I’ve let him down.
But I don’t mind. “Look!” I’ll say. “I bought some new Clorox Cleanup! Floral scent!” I’m in my bliss.