Maybe you’ve read somewhere that I don’t like grocery shopping. Maybe Dionne Warwick told you or you were one of the privileged people who have witnessed me throwing myself into Henry’s shoulder and whining about hating grocery shopping while I’m at the grocery store. (A very rare occurrence, though I was just there a few weeks ago to make sure Henry bought all of the fruit for our popsicle throwdown.)
I just think it’s boring there at the grocery store. Utterly, skull-fuckingly boring.
And confusing. And occasionally stinky.
I can’t even be trusted to go grocery shopping alone. Once, Henry was busy at home doing other things that any mediocre-to-good housewife should be doing, and he asked me to run to the store to grab stuff to make cookies. I’m sorry, but there is no “running to the store” with me. That’s a term for people who can enter a supermarket without winding up crying in the dairy aisle or dry-heaving near the meat counter. Henry saddled me with a shopping list and then also sent Janna and Blake with me, so I just let them do everything and it was OK.
This is usually why Henry does the grocery shopping without me. So when he asked me if I wanted to go with him Sunday night, I was a little apprehensive.
“Why?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. “To spend time together?”
Janna was at the house, playing Wii with Chooch. So my options were to stay and watch them both fail in impossible ways at baseball (and possibly hear my son spout off some new slurs), or tag along with Henry and ask him 15 game shows-worth of questions just in the produce section alone.
And then I went back to my initial suspicion of why he asked me in the first place. Maybe he had a present for me! Maybe there was a new puppy in the trunk of the car! Maybe he was going to propose! (And I would get to say “fuck no!” Seriously, it’s Warped Tour or not at all.) So that is how someone who hates grocery stores ended up at Shop n Save on a Sunday night with Henry.
Evidently, he really just wanted to spend time with me. No presents, puppies or proposals. Just produce.
In the first three minutes, I learned the difference between peaches and nectarines and that I shouldn’t grope a bunch of hot peppers (they were so cute and had something to do with bonnets) and then touch my eyes. Then I watched disgustedly as Henry contemplated what kind of seemingly identical package of hot dogs to toss in the cart.
We were headed back toward the check-out lines in record time when I realized that Henry hadn’t gotten a pineapple, and Janna really wanted him to get a pineapple. I know this because she said three times, “Don’t forget to get a pineapple, Henry!” He was going to cook out that night, and Janna thought it would be positively swell if he grilled fruit too. Specifically pineapple. It was her dying wish.
He grabbed a can of pineapple slices and set it in the cart. (He sets things in the cart; I PLUNK TOSS & THROW things in the cart, and then I kick it. Fuck a cart.)
“Canned? Really? Janna wanted a real pineapple.” I was in the mood to make things difficult.
And that’s how we ended up back in the produce, so Henry could prove to me that the fresh pineapples did not seem ripe to him. But I wasn’t listening to him, because that’s when I saw her for the first time.
This adorable little old Asian woman with a squished face. I was grandma-smitten.
“She looks like Gizmo!” I whispered to Henry, who sighed and called me racist. (I still don’t understand why—I thought I was being complimentary.)
We were at the check-out by this point, and I was kicking myself for not taking her picture. I was already forgetting what she looked like (in my mind she was looking less like Gizmo and more like a kaiser roll); that wasn’t going to be very conducive to my grandma daydreams.
“I need to go back and find her,” I whispered hoarsely to Henry, who shrugged me off. “Do you think she’s still here?”
“You only saw her three minutes ago,” Henry snapped. And as he was bagging the groceries, that’s when I decided it was now or never.
“I’m going to go find her!” I cried.
“Whatever, child,” Henry mumbled irritably. I noticed the cashier was listening, so I put my head down and slunk away, back into the bowels of the store. When I turned the corner, I started to run and swivel my head all around, looking for my target.
I have this major malfunction when it comes to covert operations. I don’t know how to be casual, calm, or anything that you wouldn’t expect from a meth addict on the prowl. I am jittery, clumsy, completely obvious. Which is why when I found her near the meat, I came to a jarring, obvious halt and fumbled with my iPhone. While her husband was perusing the meats, she was inspecting a table full of buns, so I stood next to her and picked up a package to seemingly scrutinize when really I was just using it as a proverbial potted plant.
It was not a good time to take the picture, so I followed her as she rejoined her husband, pretending to be beyond interested in the row of Bob Evans mashed potatoes hanging a few feet away from the meat. Neither of them seemed to pay much attention to me as they pushed their cart behind me and continued on their way. I threw down the packet of mashed potatoes and followed them as inconspicuously as I know how to, which is, you know, not very inconspicuous.
When I’m stalking people, every sense is heightened. If people try to speak to me while I’m on the hunt, I lose all sense of “normal tone” and tend to answer in the high-pitched yells of a tweaker.
But then opportunity shone down on me as she stopped in front of an open air cooler of condiments and other such sundry. I tripped over myself to get to the other side, placing myself directly across from her and a wide array of Sabra hummus, which happens to be something I know a lot about (the pine nut kind is my favorite) and I was happy I no longer had to pretend to know what I was doing in front of a goddamn wall of MEAT. Finally, I had her in my cross-hairs I had to rise up on my tip-toes to get a picture of her, and at that point, I was over trying to be surreptitious. My Machiavellian qualities surged to the forefront long enough for the image to be captured for prosperity. I then stutter-walked my way out of the store, openly laughing alone. And it was this deranged, guttural, low-octave cacchination that I tend to reserve for moments of near-insanity. Like when riding the Caterpillar or posting old Service pictures of Henry on the Internet. It’s my asshole siren, if you will.
Henry was loading the last bag in the car by the time I made it out to the parking lot, still sounding off with my Corky chortle. He frowned and shook his head. I talked about her the whole way home.