Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Flying Shopping Cart

From time to time, the little kid in me just has to emerge. Doing silly things, making silly faces, making weird noises - all fun distractions from the drudgery of every day life. When I was younger, my Dad used to do this to the point of embarrassment (not his, but mine, and especially my Mom's). To this day I still have vivid flashbacks of his making over-exaggerated arm circles, beating his chest in an ape-like manner, or making funny noises - all while in public - and remember being horrified. This Man could not be my Dad, he's an impostor. "Normal" parents don't behave like this - intentionally act out and be overtly weird. Occasionally I would catch a glance from my Mom, who at this point was used to my Dad's sense of humor. She would just shake her head and say, "Oh Winnie!"

Keeping that in mind....

Today I found myself going through the drudgery of every day life. Sunday's workout hit me like a ton of bricks, and Monday's deep tissue massage wiped away any hope of an early wake-up call this morning. So today I let myself sleep in, lounged around a bit, and enjoyed way too many cups of coffee. Eventually I got my rear in gear and got stuff done that I had been putting off for a while, you know, the kind of stuff that lurks in the background and is incessantly there... but you put off doing it, because you can.... I managed to get in some good writing, did a little research, and then went to the kitchen for a snack. I opened the cupboards and then it hit me.

We're out of food. Again.

Big sigh. This means I have to schlep to the grocery store. Even bigger sigh.

And it's not like we had no food in the house - we had enough to make a whole bunch of stuff. But just not the kind of stuff I was trying to eat. And because I'm the one who plans the meals, goes to the grocery store, and follows a careful nutrition plan during "my season" - we generally eat pretty healthy stuff. But it doesn't mean that we don't have our fair share of processed, quick, easy stuff lying ready in wait. Because, believe me, we do. But when I opened the fridge and saw that we were out of red peppers, only had 2 eggs left, were down to the last grapefruit, and had virtually no spinach left, I decided right then and there that it was time to head to the grocery store. And then I spied the empty coffee creamer (fat free french vanilla!) on the counter top, and realized that if something wasn't done pronto!, my usual morning cup(s) of coffee would be compromised. As in, they wouldn't be the same. And if they weren't the same, I would have a much more difficult time functioning... (goes back to the Butterfly Effect!). The decision had been made FOR me - to the store!

Gargantuan sigh.

I usually head to the grocery store once a week, or at least I try to. Because Nathaniel is active duty military, we are able to shop at a government Commissary (I didn't know about that until I became a Marine wife), that sometimes has cheaper prices than regular stores. However, the Commissary is a bit of a trek away, about a 30 minute drive. And the lines are long. And food stuff on the shelves is constantly being re-arranged, so even with a list there are things I can't find. So usually when I go, I'll have to have some kind of additional excuse to go to the military base that it's on - like go to the gym or something. If I'm going to go all the way out there, I at least want to be productive about my time. It's no fun spending 45 minutes in the store, while driving for a full 60.

So I made my list, checked our stock of food, consulted with Nathaniel, figured out just how many more variations of Stir Fry, Turkey Loaf, baked/grilled chicken breasts, Spinach Taco Salad, or Kabobs I could come up with, and got ready to hit the store. I also grabbed my gym bag, and figured I would lift first and then knock out the shopping. I was feeling downright productive!

My lift session went fine. I feel a bit of an oddity at the gym, which could (and probably will at some future point) be a completely new blog entry. I usually hit the gym (old gym, not the new one) on Pensacola Naval Air Station (home to the Blue Angels and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world!). Most of the time (at these gyms) there aren't a lot of women - mostly guys. Okay - not a big deal, considering there are so many more males than females in our Armed Services. But I do feel weird when I place my little 5 lb plates on the 45 lb. bar to do a chest press, and the guy next to me is benching 120 pounds PLUS the bar. Usually when I see this, I've got a few thoughts going through my mind: 1)Holy cow! 2)He's benching more than me AND my cat's weigh combined! 3)How can he do that? 4)Humph! At least I could outrun him, so in the case of a national emergency when all we had left was our foot speed, I would survive. So take that! That'll teach you to give me a funny look when I bench press a whopping 55 or 60 pounds! But I digress...

Workout was fine, got changed, and then faced the drudgery of the Commissary. It was even sprinkling lightly, certainly a reflection of my mood. It was Tuesday afternoon, just around 4:30 or 5 as people were getting off work, and I knew, I just knew, the store would be packed. It always is. It's never fun, trying to navigate my shopping cart past people who think nothing of blocking the ENTIRE isle with their own cart. The isles are notoriously narrow, so trying to search for something while other people are blocking your attempts can be a bit discouraging. Even Mother Theresa would have had a difficult time being cordial to some of the people at the store. I feel like a totally mean person, rude and not my usual self. But sometimes the grocery store feels like a battle zone.

Sale in Isle 6? Better watch out as 3 or 4 other customers mow you down in an attempt to grab the last frozen chick legs.


Hey look! It's the random friends we haven't seen since yesterday! Let's decide to catch up about EVERYTHING as we block the entire isle, chatting about meaningless dribble! Super. I'll just back my car up, shoot the "evil-eye" look, and navigate down a slightly less congested isle. Not fun!

You see how mean I become?!? And all because I don't want to spend the majority of my afternoon wandering aimlessly around the Grocery Store.

BEWARE: If you see a mad-woman with a crazy glint in her eye, wearing running shoes, and a baseball cap, ramming her veggie/fruit/healthy food/yogurt/granola cart indiscriminately around corners, you'll know that it's me. And at that point, I'm probably a little bit frazzled.

Luckily, most of what I needed was on the "outside" of the store - fruit/veggies/dairy/meat, etc. I had to make a few trips up and down the isles to get the basics - diet coke, black beans, cereal, gum, and 2 Coconut Ritter Sport Chocolate Bars for Nathaniel (when people/friends that I see at the store question me about the chocolate or candy in the cart, I'll respond with "It's for my husband!". They wink and nod knowingly, never convinced that I won't scarf it all myself. Wait till off season!). Overall, not that bad, though. I was in and out in 40 minutes. I even managed to remember everything on the list AND I didn't get lost once (the first time that's happened, due to how frequently the store is arranged and rearranged. Once you get used to the layout, they'll pull a fast one on you, and make you navigate the flippin' place all over again. A shrewd effort to get you to spend more time and therefore more money in the store. Humbug!)

I went through the checkout, made small talk with the cashier, paid the bill (HOW much for all this stuff! You would think we would be twice as big as we are for the large quantities of food we go through!), and was on my way out to the car. It was still misting lightly, but it was kind of a nice effect. I could smell the sea air from a few miles away, the sky was getting a little darker as it does this time of year, and fall was finally in the air (okay, fall to someone in Florida - meaning the temp was in the upper 60s/low 70s).

I was done. Mission accomplished. I had survived. Great workout at the gym, followed by a very productive shopping trip. Yea! No Grocery store (hopefully!) for another week (unless we're out of coffee creamer. I will not yield on that one). Loaded the groceries in the back of my car, threw my wallet and water bottle in the front seat, and prepared to bring my cart back to the store.

And before I knew what I was doing, I found myself sprinting with the empty grocery cart in front of me, down past the long line of cars to the front of the store (I had parked as far away from the store as possible, something I resolved to do after watching my Mom circle the parking lot for what seemed like hours in search of the perfect spot). My elbows were locked, one foot was perched on the piece of metal connecting the two wheels together, my body was positioned just right to counter balance the weight of the car, and before I could stop myself, before I realized just how many people were watching, before I thought about how stupid I must look, I jumped on the cart and rode 10 feet before hopping it off and doing it all over again. I was flying in my shopping cart!! It was wonderful. It was exhilarating. It was freeing! There I was, baseball cap, running shoes and all, sprinting down the parking lot and riding the grocery cart. It was great. My inner child had emerged yet again.

If you're ever at the store and feel the urge to do something silly, hop on the cart, or just embrace your inner-child, go for it. Beating the drudges of daily life with a little bit of silliness is the best way of coping that I can think of. And who cares who sees you (aside from your kids!). Besides, it's fun. So today, I did a lot of boring, everyday stuff, but also had a blast making a complete fool of myself. Who cares? My Dad would be proud!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Marit!
One of my FAVORITE things to do is to grocery shop! Yep. I rarely take the kids - so in other words, GULP, I do it on my FREE time. We go thru a lot of food and fresh food...so I shop frequently. With Jerome training for an IM, 2 kids and myself...well...I just went grocery shopping yesterday! Glad you made it FUN! :) Jen