Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Grocery Shopping

How midlife grocery shopping differs:

The first thing I do is look for a parking space in the shade as close to the front door as is humanly possible. I have a handicap tag which I borrow from my ancient mother and I try very hard not to abuse it, but if it’s raining, it’s every handicapped for him/herself. I’m not above feigning a slight limp on my way in either, just in case I run into someone in a grocery scooter who is legally entitled to park in these spaces.

Next up is getting all germs and bacteria off the shopping cart handle before I touch it with bare hands. God knows how many small children have wiped their drooling, snotty, little noses and then asked Mommy if they could push the cart. And, I’m always appalled whenever I see an even smaller tot with its little bottom sitting in the front section of the cart which is so obviously constructed for womens’ purses. I would never ever ever put any fresh produce, for example, in that section of the cart for fear of cross contamination from those little, diapered human butts.

No more endless chit chat when confronted by someone I either know or knew and haven’t seen in years. These people always seem to turn up at the grocery store when I do. I have no idea why. It’s manspeak for me, “Hi, Genie, great to see you, planning a party, gotta run. Ciao.” They usually haven’t spit out their own salutation before I’ve rounded the corner from aisle 4 to 5. No time, not interested, looking for important items.

And, speaking of important items, they have changed over the years. I now seek flavored “dried plums” which is groceryspeak for prunes. When once I purchased items to keep my body looking good, I now seek those that serve the purposes of daily functioning only, and fiber is key. I am intimately familiar with the frozen food section. Cooking is for the young. I still shop in the makeup section of the store, but only for eyebrow pencil because my eyebrows went bald several years ago. I buy both wine and catfood in gallon containers. In addition to toothpaste, I throw a box of denture cleaner in the basket. I have to find room in the basket for these groceries because the middle aged always buy at least one potted plant on our way in or out of the store.

Muzac in grocery stores hasn’t changed since the Eagles had their first hit song which pleases me as I do the middle-aged-white-woman-boogie through the produce section. I have to contain myself from singing at the top of my lungs. My embarrassment at doing this went the way of my embarrassment over buying baby wipes to go along with the 8-pack mega rolls of toilet tissue.

Then we come to the check-out counter. I no longer reach for the National Enquirer, but eagerly scan through the Reader’s Digest Abridged Edition as I await my turn. I hand the clerk the sixteen coupons I have cut out of the Sunday paper. If I had a million dollars, I would still cut out coupons. It’s free money. I can’t help myself. I watch the items being purchased by the eighteen-year-old, tanned, tight-skinned young boy in front of me as they slowly roll along the conveyor belt and giggle under my breath at his stupidity and bad habits. I do also furtively glance at whoever is waiting their turn behind me, because I know they are judging my choices and giggling for entirely different reasons.

The only exercise I get on grocery days is schlepping my groceries from the cart out to my car myself so that I don’t have to do the superficial bagger chat with the nice young man or woman who would otherwise help me to my car, “Nice weather finally, isn’t it, Ms. Midlife?” “Why, yes it is.” (No, it’s not. It’s hot as hell.), “Oh, nice car, ma’am.” “Thanks.” (It ought to be. I earned it), “There you go, have a nice day.” “And the same to you.” (Right, whatever.).

If any of you middle aged have ever had just one of these experiences, please raise your hand. I thought so.


All of that is so true, especially about the baby's butts in the shopping carts.
When I go to the grocery store my cart is pretty colorless as I only like to eat things that are white; mashed potatoes, vanilla ice cream,, old, white men.
Yes, it's true, you can find rich, old, white men at the grocery store too. Just hang out at the Pepto Bismal shelf and if the pickins are slim you can sometimes find them loitering near the Stilton cheese with a bagette and bottle of Chateau Margeaux tucked under their elbows. Gifts for a dinner hostess no doubt. That's the kind of man I like, ones who comes baring gifts.

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