The Mad Shopper

17 Jun

How can I put this without sounding like an incompetent nincompoop (an underused word) with half a lemon for a brain? When I walk into a grocery store, I feel like a history major that’s sitting in on a biomedical engineering class taught in the Xhosa language – colloquially known as the “tongue clicking language.” Isn’t that just the most fascinating language?? I once convinced my sisters that we should go an entire day communicating with only the clicking of our tongues. It was a really inventive and awesome way to spend five minutes before watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It was the episode where Kim hired a private investigator to watch Scott during his trip to Vegas. Isn’t Vegas just a ridiculous place?? I’ve never been, but I’ve watched all of the Oceans movies, so I really feel like I know enough about it to be able to rob a major casino. Hmm which casino would I rob? I’d have to invest in an awesome outfit so I could be all mysterious and incognito – it would have to be black. And bedazzled. Although maybe that would blow my cover. Plus, I’d have to invest in a bedazzling kit and a hot glue gun. Can I really afford that on a college budget? I’d rather save up for a luxury Brookstone massage chair. Those things are awesome.

Okay, so what you just witnessed is EXACTLY the reason I don’t know how to grocery shop. I lack focus, am easily distracted, and tend to take on too many tasks at once. Wait, there’s a name for that condition? Who knew…

Due to my *mental approach* (I’m all about euphemisms) my offer to help at the grocery store is usually responded to like this:

“Mom, I can help you at the store!” Mom – who is so close to making it out of the garage without issue – looks utterly terrified. Mom says, “That’s okay, honey, it’ll be a really quick shop. Plus, you’re busy.” Sophie is lying on the floor counting the number of seconds she can go without blinking. Sophie is not busy. Sophie says, “That’s okay! I found this new recipe for Beef Bourguignon that I want to try!” Sophie does not know how to cook beef. She hops into the car enthusiastically. Mom starts to cry.

That scene may have been a tad dramatic. In actuality, my mom appreciates my help at the store. She does, however, get pretty overwhelmed when I join her because I tend to disrupt her “method.” Apparently, every grocery shopper has a “method.” She likes to select a cart and travel up and down the aisles, carefully considering each aisle in case it should house something of interest. My grandmother shops this way too. So I guess it’s an inherited trait that decided it didn’t like me and would rather exist in someone more culinarily-inclined. Rude.

My method involves a last-minute mental list, a lot of dodging and weaving, cart crashes, and some angry fellow shoppers. While it may make logical sense to peruse each aisle, I like to think of things on the fly and then sprint to the necessary aisle like I’m being chased by a swarm of angry yellow jackets. Once in said aisle, I like to stare at the selections until I start to feel really confused and dizzy. I’m a notoriously bad “looker,” so I always need to do a double/triple take every time I can’t find something on the first try…which is…Every. Single. Time.  It’s really an exhausting way to live.

Finding what I need means being exposed to a lot of other options in the process. Additional options are never good for me. Paper or plastic? I can usually handle that, depending on the day, my mood, my level of tolerance, my caffeine intake, and my horoscope. But Oreo, coffee, or black raspberry ice cream? You might as well blindfold me and put me in a giant corn maze. It is ROUGH. For example, whenever I head toward the bread aisle at Stop & Shop (that’s an aisle, right?), I inevitably pass by the candy, the pretzels, and the half-priced whoopee pies that have been sitting on the shelf since the day I lost my first tooth. Under the stress of shopping, those whoopee pies start to look way more appealing than they ever should in the light of day. I don’t even like whoopee pies that much, but I will buy them because they exist and because I walked by them.

Another thing about grocery shopping: ALWAYS go on a full stomach. Somehow, I always manage to shop when my stomach is emptier than it has EVER been before. Over the years, I have learned that this is not a good tactic; yet, because I have a rebellious spirit, I continue to shop while famished. When I shop hungry, I decide that everything is something I have been DYING to try and MUST have in my cart right away. Pickled cabbage? Count me in. Pigs’ feet? Delish. Brown lettuce that I was too lazy to put back upon realizing it was discolored? YES! I wish I could blame these purchases on the shopping anxiety that I detailed above, or on the fact that I shop somewhere deals exclusively with pickled vegetables and animal parts… but I can’t. When I’m hungry, nothing is off limits. Boy, am I going to be a nightmare of a pregnant lady…

My mom tells me I will eventually need to learn how to cook, and that requires a more logical approach to grocery shopping. That probably makes sense. She is a wise lady. Unless something drastic happens, however, I don’t see “logical” becoming a part of my personality description any time soon. All I can hope for is that, if and when I am lucky enough to have a family, my children develop highly evolved palates for pickled cabbage, pigs’ feet, and brown lettuce.

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