Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's in Your Basket?

Remember the episode of Designing Women when Suzanne said to Mary Jo in the supermarket, “Two guys, one cart, fresh pasta … figure it out”? Do you look in other people’s carts at the supermarket? Of course you do.

Have you ever had to go shopping for a strange combination of just a few items and hoped no one would look at your basket? Of course you have, and you wouldn’t be reading this is if it didn’t happen to me.

I love looking at other people’s carts, especially those of mothers, especially weight challenged mothers with weight challenged children. Was that politically correct enough? Roseanne, when she did stand-up, said fat mothers were the best because they had the good snacks. No one hangs out at the house with a skinny mother.

No one would hang around our house. One, because we were the crazy family every neighborhood has and points out when friends and relatives come to visit, and two, our mother was constantly on a diet. Everything in our house was sugar free. The woman used Sweet n Low instead of sugar in every recipe. To this day, I never eat in a restaurant that advertises “home cooking.” I stole that line from Alan King, alev ha sholem. When the fat-free craze started, we adopted that as well. There is no food worse than fat-free cream cheese. Cream cheese is fat! Remove the fat, and you have caulk.

My mother’s grocery cart was filled with Fresca, Tab, Sweet n Low, bananas, chicken, chuck roast (which I have told you she would burn on the grill), cottage cheese, and tomatoes. Oy vay.

Mother was on Atkins when it first came out, and I remember going with her to the G.C. Murphy Co. lunch counter at Newmarket Shopping Center in our 1965 Corvair, where they had those cool orange punch machines, and her ordering a hamburger omelet with a side of cottage cheese. I don’t care how fat and desperate I get (and I have been pretty fat and desperate in my day), I will never order a hamburger omelet with a side of cottage cheese. Occasionally, she would convince my father to go on one of these diets.

No wonder my parents always had gas. For years, I thought we had an invisible pet duck. Think about it.

Back to the market. I am a very efficient grocery shopper as I have told you before, but this does not preclude me from observing other people’s food choices, especially in the checkout line.

Before I criticize others, I do have one problem when I shop. I can buy $200 worth of groceries, and I still have nothing to eat. Seriously, I will come home and empty my bags, which will contain cleaning products, Kleenex, toothpaste and other personal hygiene products, and only find a bunch of bananas and three fresh donuts that I will eat very quickly before disposing of the evidence. Esmeralda gives me a look that says, “I know what you’re doing.”

As a kid, I had to sneak fattening snacks, and although my parents are not watching anymore, I still eat junk food when no one is around and pretend I never do. Then I say, “The dryer keeps shrinking my underwear.”

I usually get stuck behind the fat mother (yes, I said fat this time, which is ok because my shrinking underwear is cutting off my circulation). I love their carts, which usually have frozen pizzas, frozen chicken nuggets, six or seven boss bottles of soda (do they call them boss bottles anymore?), ice cream, four of five bags of Doritos, a hunk of unidentifiable red meat, pork chops, and a jumbo pack of toilet paper. They are going to need that toilet paper. Amazingly, there are no, and I mean no fruits and vegetables in the cart. However, next to the cart is a little fat kid that is so hyped up on sugar that the mother is constantly shushing her and saying no when she grabs candy bars. Seriously, no candy bars? Well, I guess she has to draw the line somewhere.

Behind me is the former supermodel, a seventy-something woman in a velour track suit, whose face is pulled so tight that when she turns her head she has an orgasm. In her cart are fruits and vegetables of every variety and color, various nuts in bags, enough Crystal Light to drown a giraffe, and a bottle of Geritol. I wonder if she has an invisible pet duck, too.

Between major shopping excursions, all of us have to run in for a few items, and these fun people can be found in the express or self-checkout aisle. There you find the husband buying tampons.

Now, I never had a period, although many of my friends would argue otherwise, but I have never understood running out of tampons. Maybe this is because I have a dozen toothbrushes, at least seven back up tubes of toothpaste, bottle after bottle of mouthwash, shampoo, and body wash, bottles of dog shampoo and ear cleaner, enough detergent to wash the Baltimore Ravens' jock straps for a year (who wouldn’t want that job?), and dozens of other bottles of cleaning products for windows, floors, countertops, bathtubs, toilet bowls, etc.

If there is a nuclear war, look for the really skinny but immaculately clean Gay Jew and his dog next to the very clean park space where his trailer was vaporized. I may die of starvation, but I’ll be damned if I die dirty!

So, women of America, how in the hell do you run out of tampons? Or, do you do this to torture your menfolk by sending them out for tampons? Amazingly, they never run out of maxi pads. If my Aunt Flo visited me every month, bitch, I would be prepared.

Well, I can usually find something I need at the grocery store, since I rarely buy food, but one morning this week, I needed only two items. I drove over to the store right after the gym at 6:00 am and walked into Weis on a mission. I was pronouncing it “weece” until my neighbor corrected me and said it was pronounced “wice.” I asked the manager, and he said he pronounces it “we is.” I’ll go with “wice.”

Where was I? Oh yes, my two items.

There I was with my hand basket. I love the little hand baskets because they discourage me from buying even more bottles of detergent. I had my two items, and I looked over to the bakery department, and what did I smell, fresh donuts! They come out fresh at 6:00 am! There is a God.

Hey, I just came from the gym ... shut up.

I went to self-checkout, and I scanned my bag of donuts then my next two items. At that hour, the cashiers are not available, but one is around to help, and she likes to bag items for the few people who come in to shop. She is also the weird one they put on that shift to keep her away from most of the customers and the other staff. When she bagged my items, using my canvas shopping bag, she gave me a strange look.

What, you never saw someone buy donuts, Fleet enemas and double-A batteries before?

If you like to shop and spy on other’s baskets, follow me, join my mailing list, tell your friends.

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