BLOG: Shopstacle Course

I have a new rule in my home. It was not honed over time, but bred over time. It is the result of not so much conflict resolution but too much choice. And even then it is caused by subtleties that no matter how hard, how long or how detailed I get, I get it wrong. So I have asked my beautiful and wonderful wife Liz—no, demanded, no, requested, no pleaded… okay, begged…no, made the case for—from this day forward, she has to go shopping with me when groceries are the goal.

America is a wonderful place to eat. We have entire industries that are dedicated to feeding us. And they are very serious about it. So much so that they have flooded our taste buds and intestinal linings with products to eat ranging from the ultra-healthy to ones that boast, “Now with real food inside!” on their labels. The problem is that when I am sent out to shop for groceries, I always pick up the right food but the wrong item.

Take for instance corn. It can stand on its own in a can. Or it can come creamed in a can or it can come whole again but frozen. It can come popped (or ready to be popped), it can come attached to a dog, it can come in the powder form of “cornmeal” (as opposed to corn side dish?), candy form mixed with some red stuff, flash frozen, flash cooked, Flash Gordon (he must have eaten corn, right?) and when all else fails…it comes on its own stick – I think they call it a cob. Of course, some people like to cut it off the cob. They can cut that off themselves or have The Jolly Green Giant and his kid do it for them. Which means that you have to choose…well, just reread this last paragraph if you must.

And God forbid that there is a sale. Then you have to find the right item that is on sale, but the instructions are if you can’t get that then just get whatever is there. Huh? Well, that’s just the kiss of death in the supermarket aisle. And worse still is “If you can’t get it on sale, then just get the ingredients…” Yes that’s panic time. First off, what ingredients? Give me a list. And don’t write “Tomato”. That is not going to fly. Big ones, little ones, micro ones? Cherry tomatoes, beefsteak (I have yet to understand the “steak” part)…And don’t tell me ripe…what is ripe? A red tomato is a ripe tomato, right? But wait…they also come in yellow, purple, green and even black. Now how am I supposed to know when a black tomato is ripe if it isn’t going to turn red? That’s just cruel.

So is there a solution? Sometimes, sure. Remember back in the day when you used to send me out for uniquely feminine products once a month? You accepted that there was no way I would understand all the sizes, types and flavors. So you sent me with the old box and I stood there holding the box up to the displays and matched the writing, the box color, the logo design, the weight of the box, how many you got in a box right down to the texture, the history, the scientific seal of approval and of course the reviews. Worked great if they didn’t change the packaging and when they did we just decided to have the surgery. Let’s face it – it was just easier and less painful.

So that’s the new rules for grocery shopping on this end. So far it has worked out this way. She still sends me to the store and I still goof it up. But now, she doesn’t say anything which explains why last night I had tomato on the cob.

Lloyd E. Flyer is a freelance writer and may be contacted through The Tolucan Times or at Alternateangle@pacbell.net

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