I dislike grocery shopping. No. That’s not quite accurate. I, with all the acrimonious, festering, boiling puss at the bottom of Hell’s colon, despise grocery shopping.
So when my mama (who my son is now calling Shamamaw for some ungodly reason) called nine days before Thanksgiving to ask if I’d like company for the holidays, I finished choking-gurgling-blubbering, and sputtered, “I’d love some!”
And I meant it. Until I had to food shop for the visit.
I’m the procrastinatiest of procrastinators. Especially when I hate an activity so much I’m willing to pawn it off on the dog. Sure, I’ll eat Kibble–as long as I don’t have to buy it.
Naturally, I stalled until I could stall no more–my fault, I know. Shut the hell up all you prepared, organized people. I got my comeuppance. And Hitler’s too.
As per my usual liaise-faire personality, I failed to plan ahead. If I had, I’d have driven my dumb butt to the grocery before school let my kids out for a Thanksgiving mini-vaca. But nooo, I blew it off to cram in as much writing time as possible. So. Stupid.
Here’s how my adventure went…(in choppy cliff notes version. I blocked out the rest).
Enter store. Grab a cart. Glance at list, calculating the time I’d spend in misery. Look behind me to ensure three children trailed in my wake.
Two sets of peepers stare back at me.
Panic puckers my ass. “Where’s Nick?”
Ava shrugs. She’s been waiting for Nick to wander off permanently for a few years now, so her concern is buried deep. Mara points back the way we came. I whip my head around, snapping my damn neck to find Nick mowing down an elderly woman to stomp on the automatic door sensor.
“Nicholas!” The only one I startle is the old lady. She shoots me a snooty look. What can I do but smile and wave?
We move on. Since my mom has a gluten allergy, fresh fruits and veggies top my list. Seeing as it’s my first time hosting a holiday dinner, I’d rather not send her to the hospital in convulsions. I toss enough antioxidant goodness to feed an army into the cart. Did I mention my brother–who my son now refers to as Uncle Tooty (to call him gassy or question his manhood, we don’t know. When asked, Nick just cackles and blurts, “Uncle Tooty! Which is mucho stupid as my “little” brother is 6’2″ – 6’3″ and 250+ of muscle)–was along for the trip?
Well, I’m engrossed in my shopping by now, so my boy starts popping grapes like uppers at a Rave.
“Don’t eat those!” I squeal, horrified that it’s my kid raiding the produce.
“Why?” he asks between munches.
“Because I haven’t paid for them! Because they’re not washed and because other people don’t want your germs!”
Blue-eyed angel-looking devil moves on to eye the strawberries.
“Come on, girls,” I mutter, already disenchanted with the whole experience.
Silence. I turn. No girls.
OMG! Once again, I crane my head around like Linda Blair in full possession. “Ava! Mara!”
“I’m bored,” comes Mara’s reply. She’s seated, cross-legged, under the apple bin. “Can we leave?”
“Get off the floor!” I stifled my shriek. Only I didn’t. “It’s filthy!”
“But I’m tired.”
“You’re seven. You don’t get tired. Now where the hell is your sister? Ava!”
She crosses her arms, a mutinous look claiming her sweet face. “You’re mean.”
“Yes,” I agree with a nod. “It’s what I like about me.”
Ava appears out of nowhere, grinning like a deviant.
I scribble wine on the list.
Nick, innocent as a puppy who’s just peed on your favorite Prada bag, waltzes up carrying two very heavy jars–the kind that would without a doubt shatter and splatter all over the floor.
Innards shriveling, I ask what he’s got.
“Pickles!” He tosses them into the cart like he’s Roger effing Clemens.
My ovaries shoot up my spine, smack my brain and dive back down to the depths of my pelvis in an impressive, colon-clenching display. Thank you, God, neither jar breaks.
I pinch the bridge of my nose. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
Shoot me. “Those are gherkins. I don’t like gherkins.”
“What are gherkins?” asks the innocent, little puppy.
“A kind of pickle. Put them back, please.”
“But you like pickles.”
Mental pictures of electrodes and straight jackets flash through my mind. I long for them. “Not these pickles.”
“Because they’re sweet.”
“You don’t like sweet pickles?”
“What kind of pickles do you like?”
I slap a hand over my twitching left eye. “Dill! Dill pickles! I like dill damn pickles!”
Mara, eavesdropping like the snoop she is, gives me an indignant sniff. “That was rude.”
Cue maniacal laughter.
We continue in riotous fun to the meat section.
“We need a turkey!” Nick shouts, racing ahead to assault a cellophane-wrapped package.
Ava crosses her arms. “That’s a pork chop, you dope.”
“I don’t like turkey!” Mara whines.
“We already have a turkey.” I state, shooing them forward.
Reaching for a ham, Nick chirps, “How about chicken?”
“Dope,” Ava mutters not quite under her breath.
“I don’t like chicken!”
“Get your hands off that ham! Stop the name calling! And you’ll eat what I tell you to!”
Wine! I put wine on the list, right? Forget the damn meat, find me the blasted alcohol!
At this point, I’m prepared to pull out chunks of my hair and leave a scalp trail on the floor in case I can’t find my way out again. The young man stocking the meats shoots me a weary look from the corner of his eye, like he might call 911 and press charges for molesting his products.
I crook the side of my mouth in a smile to reassure him. Drool runs down my chin.
After yelling each child’s name no less than three times, barking at fellow shoppers like a rabid ferret and threatening to drink the floor cleaners in aisle seven, we made it out of the store with all the items on our list.
I don’t remember much after that as I gave much thanks to the wine.