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Friday, May 16, 2014

Supermarket Sweep

"If you're coming along, we need to leave now," David says.  "I have less than an hour for lunch."
I love to accompany my husband on rollicking trips to the grocery store.  If there's anyone who knows how to stuff ten pounds of fun into a five pound bag, it's me.  This is why he usually prefers to go alone.
"Did you make your list?" he asks.  He already knows the answer.  Why does he do this to himself?
"Tut, tut.  No time for a list," I refute.  "Let's just see what they have when we get there."
"C'mon, kid.  That never works out," he says.  Write something down."
"Don't worry.  I feel really lucky today."  This is my attempt at reassurance.  It is insincere.  "To the casino!" I shout, grabbing my little sweater in case I get cold. Once I arrive, I prefer to remain on the premises as long as I like.  I don't want to get run off by the air conditioning.
Dave is seldom amused.  These supermarket outings can get pretty expensive.
Too bad the boys are still in school.  I like when the four of us go together.  I get a kick out of watching them case the joint.  They zero in on their favorite departments, searching for little chunks of meat and cheese punctured with frilly toothpicks.  It doesn't matter what time my sons have eaten their last meal.  When we're in the Harris Teeter, they're always near death from starvation.

Brother will disappear first, skipping through the bakery section to the deli counter.  Most of the employees know him by name.
"Hey, Rory," a lovely young lady with thick strands of blue hair stands on her tiptoes and greets him.
"Hi, Valerie," he replies as I step toward the plexiglass. "This is my mom."
"Hey," I offer, hesitantly.  I'm a bit taken aback by their unlikely relationship.
"Do you want to try some pepper turkey, Bro?" she asks.
"Sure," he says.
The cold cut clerk tries to reach over and hand him a slice, but he is too short.
"Throw it," Rory suggests.
She does, and it lands on his shoulder.
He peels the sliver of meat off his shirt and stuffs it into his mouth.
"Hey, that's good," he comments.  "Thanks."

When Desmond finds me, he is holding two tiny cups of something.  Looks like turkey chili or maybe chicken marsala.  Actually I have no idea what kind of food it is, but it smells really good.  We knock them back like shots of cheap liquor.
"This is delicious, Mom," my older boy tells me.  "The lady over there says you can make this for us tonight.  It's easy."  He gestures to the folding table set up by the lobster tank.
I look over and the sample woman waves.  She is wearing plastic gloves and a little too much makeup for the frozen food aisle.  The lighting in this section is so harsh.  She ought to know better, but perhaps she is new.
"Thank you," I call to her.
"It's shrimp etouffe!" she yells back.  "He loves it."
"Some people are so nice," Desi adds.

*******

My husband spins through the shop, flinging items into the cart like he's on a game show.
"I have a meeting at 2 'o'clock," he reminds me.
The man I married is conscientious.  He secures the necessary components for healthy dinners that we can prepare for the next several nights in a row.  I follow closely behind, adding things like Funyuns and Cool Whip when I think he's not looking.
"We still have plenty of Funyuns at home, you know," Dave insists.
"That's impossible," I protest.  "We can never have too much fun."

While checking out at the register, I notice a little girl by the complementary sugar cookie display.  Roughly four years old, she is diligently tidying up the wafers into neat rows.  She has a violent cough and is wiping her nose into the palm of her hand.  I drift over to where she is volunteering.

"You did a nice job," I say to her.  "Do you work here?"
 "No," she responds shyly.  "I go to school."
"Well, it shows."  She smiles at my kind remark and admires her own efforts.
There is a pause in our conversation as she continues to hack her brains out.

"Are you all right?" I inquire of my new friend.
"Yes.  Mommy kept me home today," she confides, sniffling unselfconsciously.  "I'm still sick."

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