Sunday, October 02, 2016

Squirrel food

The sliding doors of the grocery store opened with a metallic click and the sound of rushing air.

They stayed open as the gales from the humid outside mixed with the piped-in air conditioning inside and circled me.  I just stood in place at the mouth of the colorful produce department -- in full view of the optic monitor and pyramiding boxes of citrus -- and stared straight ahead.

This hesitation is the stutter before the start. It’s easy to feel lost in the options.

When did I begin to think it was like an amusement park in here? Was it when I noticed the new, fun-sized carts or the proliferation of sample hawkers offering a little taste of excess during the weekdays? Or maybe it’s was the smell of stale beer near the bottle return and the aroma of fried foods wafting forth from the deli case.

It was my second supermarket visit of the day. The first time I had dropped by on the spur of the moment, thinking I'd just pick up a few essentials I never seem to manage to scratch onto a list. Toilet tissue, dish soap, bulk cheese.

Not that it would matter. The more detailed the shopping list, the more likely it is to be left on a kitchen counter next to the reusable tote bags I keep buying on impulse and with all my good intentions.

What had I come here for again?

Oh yes. Video return.

I dug into my bag and produced two red plastic-encased rentals. I pushed a button, and the machine slurped them up. I feel a surge of relief. A few more days gathering dust at our house and we could have owned these box-office flops.

But now that I was here, I might as well have a look around.

The phone in my bag pulsated. I dug it out.

"Plz gt seltzer H2O."

Another three vibrations followed in rapid succession:

"We're out of juice boxes."

"Soy creamer!!!!"

"Cat says she's out of cat food."

I zig-zag around the store, collecting items with the efficiency and precision of an over-stimulated squirrel.

At times like these -- without an agenda or serious need -- I find myself attracted to shiny things and novelties, tossing one silly thing into the cart after the next.

I think about all the Wednesdays from now until the end of the semester. I will be racing a clock to feed four people two different meals before we go in three different directions. I toss a half-dozen frozen dinner packages on the pile.

Mmmmm. Chicken L’Orange.

There are no components in my cart. Nothing to cook, just reheat.

The cashier barely looks at my purchases as she rings them up. But I know my label-reading husband will give me the side-eye when I get home and unpack the polypropylene bags of my trick-or-treat-like haul.

"Muffin in a cup?"

Just add water!!!

"Puzzle-piece cheese puffs?"

Limited edition AND holiday themed!!!

He just shakes his head and reaches for a bag of chocolate sandwich cookies.

"You really need to get out more."

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