I could probably do the math on how many trips to the grocery store I’ve taken in my life, but math isn’t my thing and I don’t really feel like depressing myself right now, anyway. Groceries are one of my chores. If I need Otto to go, instead, I have to make a list, and I don’t do lists, so most of the time I just take care of it myself.
Of course, my version of “taking care of it” means that half the time I forget at least three items, and a good portion of the time I have done zero meal planning and have no idea what we need to get through the week.
Except milk. I always buy a couple of gallons of milk. That way, when the kids complain, “There’s nothing to eat!” I can lovingly respond with, “There’s a whole pantry full of food! Shut up and drink your milk!”
(I am TOTALLY a problem solver!)
Remember how jazzed I was when the kids started cooking for us? For most of the summer I was totally organized; the kids gave me shopping lists each week, Otto and I planned the remaining meals, and trips to the grocery store were well-organized and non-traumatic affairs.
Then, of course, everything started falling apart.
For one thing, about a month ago I put something in the freezer in the garage that didn’t quite fit. I checked—because I felt the pressure against the door as I shut it—to make sure it had closed and sealed against the large container, and it seemed fine. I went on my merry way. The next morning, Otto discovered that the door had popped back open, and I had just ruined an entire freezerful of food.
[Insert your favorite dramatic movie clip of someone falling to their knees and shrieking, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" here.]
Losing the food in the freezer deeply traumatized my frugal self because of the waste involved, but it also completely threw off my grocery shopping, because before I could assume we had certain things on hand (chicken pieces! frozen veggies! hunks of beef from the side of cow we bought!), and now I would do things like shop and come home and say, “I’m going to make meatloaf tonight” only to discover that—oops!—we don’t actually have any meat. And no, I have not recovered enough from the trauma to just go replace the entire freezer’s worth of food, yet.
In addition to that particular tragedy, the kids went back to school. And while Monkey is still happy to cook (and has less time, but still time for it), Chickadee has approximately 3 free minutes every week which is not taken up by 1) school, 2) marching band, 3) homework, 4) the 57 other activities she picked right back up the moment school resumed, and 5) rolling her eyes at us because we are the stupidest stupidheaded parents in the entire world. First it was “I just need to switch my day to the weekend, because I don’t have time during the week” and then that became, “But I’m so tired and I have so much homework and if I’m cooking I vote we order pizza!”
It’s a hard battle to commit to having when I’ve been known to greet Otto at the end of the day with, “What are you making for dinner?” (Otto will then—very carefully, slowly—say, “I thought… are you… not making something…?”)
So my system is kind of jacked up, is my point.
And as we all know, I’m a rather delicate flower. So yesterday when I headed out for groceries, I had no idea who was cooking this week or what we were going to be eating or what I ever needed to buy. My official list looked like this:
2 gallons of milk
It’s okay, though. A plan usually starts to form in my head as I see what looks good and what’s on sale and everything. So! I began my shopping. And then I ran into a parent of one of Chickie’s classmates whom I haven’t seen in a while. We ended up chatting for a bit and it wasn’t until this morning (when I was packing lunches) that I realized I forgot to grab several things in the aisle where we were talking, because apparently I can’t do two things at once.
I got a little nervous when I arrived at the checkout lane; a quick survey of my cart revealed that I likely didn’t have enough food to last us the week, but maybe I was subconsciously planning to use up multiple pantry items, I reassured myself. Yeah, that must be it.
So I commenced putting things up on the conveyer belt, and the nice young bagger guy came over to help me, and we exchanged pleasantries (it’s a small town; I shop at this store every week and know most of the employees), and then just as I was trying to figure out what I planned to make for dinner THAT NIGHT based upon what I was buying, we finished unloading and the bagger pushed the cart to the end of the checkout, passing me, and remarking, “Your hair smells really good.”
Okay. It’s true; my hair smells delightful, and because I am nothing if not a REAL GO-GETTER, as I shopped for groceries at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon I’d only been out of the shower for about half an hour or so, which meant my hair was still wet and probably fairly fragrant. Still.
The proper response of a 40-something suburban mom to a teenage grocery bagger when he says “Your hair smells really good” is:
A) Thank you.
B) Yes, it does.
C) SHUT UP SHUT UP I AM OLD ENOUGH TO BE YOUR MOTHER.
D) WHY ARE YOU SMELLING MY HAIR, WEIRDO?
E) Uhhh… thank you…?
I think you know which response I went with.
Eventually I escaped and arrived home with my milk, bananas, and other stuff. Otto watched me putting some beans into the crock pot to soak as we were unloading and said, “Is that for tonight?”
“No,” I said, “these have to soak overnight; this is for dinner tomorrow.”
“Oh,” he said. “So what’s for dinner tonight?”
Apparently “the alluring scent of my hair” was not a satisfactory answer.
We went out for pizza.