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When Husbands Grocery Shop

Who’s the designated grocery shopper at your house?  The person who puts on a mask and buys groceries during this pandemic stay-at-home time.  About six weeks ago, Husband and I divided our long list, and we both shopped.  Since then, he’s been our shopper.

            Husband is the logical choice.  He grew up working in his grandfather’s and father’s grocery store so he knows the layout of stores and feels at home among aisles of canned vegetables and bagged pasta and apples and paper napkins.  As we discussed who would shop, he reminded me that he’s a speed shopper and I’m not.  He’s right.  I’ve watched Husband pick up a bunch of bananas and put them in his grocery cart and never stop walking.  He didn’t even slow down. I spend several minutes looking at every bunch to choose the best bananas, and I often break off one that is too green or that is one too many.   

            Not all men are natural grocery shoppers. Vicky’s husband offered to do the grocery shopping.  She doubted his ability, but accepted his offer.  “I’m taking dinner for a family with newborn triplets and I want the mom’s first home meal to be really good so get exactly what I’ve written,” Vicky said.  She explained the list, including French bread, “It’ll be good if the bread is sliced.  I’ll put some spices and butter between slices and wrap the loaf in foil to be heated.”  Her husband brought home a bag of 50 small slices of dried French bread, jumbled in a plastic bag.  It wasn’t easy for Vicky to assembled those little pieces into a loaf.

            With a detailed list, Husband dons his mask and heads out to shop.  Before I can fold and put away a load of clothes, he’s home with enough food to feed a large family, not just the two of us.  And most times, he brings home exactly what I expect.  But once, he bought French style green beans and I expected a can of Allen’s green beans.  He explained, “They didn’t have the Allen’s brand, but I remembered that they were Italian cut so I thought these would probably work.”  I didn’t understand his logic.   Was it that France and Italy are European countries?  When he finally grinned, I realized he was teasing me.

            Husband buys things not on the list:  chips and cookies. I don’t walk down the chips’ aisle because each bag lures me, and when a bag of chips is opened at home, it’s my duty to eat until the bag is empty.  Husband knows that Cheetos – yellow crunchy puffs of cornmeal and oil – are a favorite.  So, guess what he brought me for a treat?   I can’t wash my hands enough to remove the artificial yellow 6 coloring.  And Oreos, with sweet cream filling, are the perfect midnight snack.

            I appreciate Husband’s willingness to do grocery shopping.  When we no longer have to wear a mask and shop more often than once every two weeks, maybe he’ll continue to shop.  Those chips and cookies are mighty tasty.

Grocery Shopping – It can be an Adventure

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Walking shoes, with orthotic inserts, laced and tied.  Car keys, purse, reusable shopping bags, coupons – all in hand.  Grocery list made and on my clipboard.  I was ready.  Or as ready as I’d ever be for senior citizen discount shopping day at the grocery store.

Once, years ago – long before I was eligible for a senior discount – I ran into this same grocery store to quickly pick up a few items.  I couldn’t get to the milk cooler because three grocery carts blocked them, and three gray-haired shoppers held tightly to their carts as they discussed their doctor appointments.  A conversation that convinced me to never shop this store on senior shopping day.  Until last week.

I really meant to shop on Tuesday, but somehow, Tuesday dwindled away.  And although I shop at several different grocery stores, only one carries the cottage cheese that my Grands and I like.  And I really hate to drive around town shopping here and there, especially on a rainy day.  I’m a task-oriented person when it comes to shopping.  Get it done and get out.  So I gave myself a pep talk.  ‘This is an adventure.  Something you’ve never intentionally done.  And everyone should do one new thing everyday.’

I eased my mini van into the store parking lot.  A long white sedan backed toward me.  I threw the gearshift into reverse, backed up, and avoided being hit.  A gentleman waved as he pushed a loaded grocery cart just two feet in front of my van.  The parking lot was as full as the one and only time I shopped on the day before Thanksgiving.  ‘Forget the cottage cheese!’ my brain screamed.  I inhaled.  ‘But you’re here and it’s an adventure – or maybe a risk.’  I parked, grabbed my paraphernalia, pulled my rain jacket hood over my head, and sloshed to the store’s open doors.

“Well, you look ready for the day!”  A store employee greeted me as he shuffled wet shopping carts into rows.  “The buggies are wet, but there’s plenty of paper towels to dry them.”  Oh, great.

Inside the store, I looked at the customers milling around the fresh produce.  They reminded me when my parents, both retired, decided to spend January in Florida.  After two weeks, they came home to Tennessee.  “There weren’t any kids near our apartment.  I never saw one school bus or one young family.  Just people as old as me,” Mother said.

I fit right in with the people at the grocery store.  I chatted with two friends I rarely see.  I visited with a former student, who was assisting his mother with her shopping.  When I realized my grocery cart was blocking a man’s view of birthday cards, I apologized and pulled my cart toward me.  “Oh, no.  It’s okay,” he said.  “I’m just perusing.  My wife is shopping.”  I moved at the pace of fellow shoppers.  And when I saw the 10% discount on my cash register tape, I gloated.

I like discounted prices – that’s why I bought six containers of cottage cheese.  Enough to last until the next senior shopping day.

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