Growing up, life was simple. My mother shopped at one supermarket, two at the most. Now I’m on a non-stop, not-so-merry market-go-round, shopping at six different stores. It’s modern-day mercantile madness.
If it’s Tuesday, I go to Whole Foods for oh, so pricy organic produce and meat. Wednesdays, I’m at Safeway. That’s where I get the family prescriptions and non-organic, unhealthful food, like Lay’s potato chips and Diet Coke. By Friday, it’s anybody’s guess. It’s a regular basket free-for-all!
Trader Joe’s has these killer frozen croissants and dim sum the fam loves. Whole Foods has these yummy lox and cream cheese rolls. Safeway, as noted above, satisfies my fat-salt-caffeinated eating urges
For his part, Handsome Hubby favors a particular (over-priced) brand of whole milk that has a one-inch layer of cream on top. For years, only a few markets carried it and in limited supply. Frequently they ran out. The result: I constantly chased all over town searching in vain for hubby’s must-have dairy delight.
Personally, I think HH was the source of that fancy pants milk shortage. He guzzles the stuff like an alcoholic downs Ripple! This search for milk like the Lost City of El Dorado was ridiculous. Did I really love my man that much? Apparently so, but at times I wondered.
Target also features on my not-so-merry market-go-round list. That’s my destination, once every three weeks, to stock up on cleaning and paper supplies – napkins, paper plates, paper towels, and such.
And, oh, yes, there’s one more market I go to – but only a couple of times a year: Monterey Market, a specialty produce market. It has amazing fruit and vegetables, but it is – and I am not exaggerating – worth life and limbs to navigate. The small, overcrowded parking lot and the narrow, equally overcrowded shopping aisles are perilous. It’s such a trauma-inducing experience I can only handle it in March and April, when Muscat grapes, so sweet my lips pucker at the mere thought, are in season. Otherwise, shopper beware!
It’s confusing. It’s exhausting. It’s energy inefficient. And the energy I’m wasting is mine! Fuhgeddaboud the gas and wear and tear on the car!
And, of course, there’s Costco. Oh, yes, Costco. The mere word sends shivers down my spine – and not in a good way! Every couple of months, HH weighs in with his manly solution to my wifely market misery. He drags me to Costco. He believes if we stock up on supplies, we’ll 1. Save money and 2. Save time.
He is wrong on both counts.
1: HH binge shops his way through Costco the way I dream of binge shopping my way down Fifth Avenue in NYC. He buys a bazillion reams of printer paper and bazillion batteries in every size imaginable. He buys pots and pans we don’t need and stocks up on more underwear than a thousand butts could wear in a thousand lifetimes. AND that is just in the first two aisles!
2. We DO NOT save time. Trips to Costco are a time suck, a painful day-long ordeal. It begins with the Battle of the Parking Lot. Once I wore new shoes to Costco, a near-fatal mistake. I had blisters just from the trek through the massive parking lot to the front door! Then there’s the beating my ankles get navigating those massive battering-ram carts up and down the aisles, trying to avoid other over-zealous and oblivious bargain hunters. Next, there’s the struggle to strategically load the cart with enough toilet paper to last through eight bouts of stomach flu, eight plagues, a Zombie Apocalypse, and HH’s planned round-trip voyage to Mars. And there are the massive lines at check-out which take forever.
The worst? The struggle to load the car and control my fear I might not fit as well because of HH’s excessive purchases. This is a legitimate fear. It has happened twice! Twice I had to wait while he drove home, unloaded the car, and then made the return trip to pick up the last item – me!
Six markets. It’s nuts. How did this crazy, not-so-super supermarket specialization come to pass?
As a young woman, I didn’t fuss about groceries. I dined out or ate cereal or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Even as a young married woman/mom, I wasn’t a super choosey shopper. I worked. I rushed. I grabbed groceries and take-out menus. My family was lucky I cooked edible meals. Options and preferences were not part of the “deal.”
But now, somehow, in middle age, I’m a market maven!
Part of it is that I, like many people, am more conscious of healthy food options. I want to make good choices for the family, Lay’s potato chips and Diet Coke aside.
But something else is at play. I think that as a middle-aged woman, I desperately need to exercise some control over my life.
And this perfectionist, got-to-please-everybody mania is nowhere more apparent than in my market-go-round mania.
More on the Market-Go-Round
Oops. I forgot — another symptom of aging. There’s actually a seventh “market” I occasionally “shop” at – Amazon. For weeks, I hunted for Spaetzle, a type of German egg noodle, and couldn’t find it. Finally, I gave up and ordered online. Ditto red miso. I found white miso aplenty in my many markets, but red? No dice.
Seven Markets. The Mercantile Definition of Insanity
My kids argue I should do ALL my shopping via Amazon and have the groceries delivered. It’s tempting but somehow wrong. Buying produce without at least eyeballing, to say nothing of touching, the goods -impossible! No, I’m old-fashioned. So, I may complain, but off to the market(s) I will continue to go, merry or not.