“See you later, hon,” I called over my shoulder, “I’m meeting Stan at The Pit for beers.”
“Good,” she says.
Good was not what I was expecting and when you are not expecting good, it is never good.
“You can pick up a few things for Thanksgiving dinner,” she tells me.
“I made a list.”
“You know I can’t read your handwriting.”
“That is why I typed it.”
“Who types grocery lists?”
She explains. “A woman in my quilting group said her husband struggles with her hand-written lists, so she types and prints them. Everyone loved the idea and now we are all doing it.”
Talk about not good.
The challenge with an illegible list is simple. You have to decipher it. The challenge with a typed list is much more complicated, you have to make sense of what is clearly written.
For instance, the very first item:
- Turkey: 1 ½ lb for each guest
How many guests are we having? Who knows? The appearance of children and grandchildren is utterly unpredictable, and goodness knows how many friends and lovers each might drag with them.
So at the store, I punt and grab the biggest turkey I can find.
The next item:
- Stove Top Stuffing: 2 boxes
You think this sounds easy?
Stove Top Stuffing come in a variety of flavors, including: Chicken, Lower Sodium Chicken, Cornbread, Pork, Beef, Savory Herbs, Traditional Sage… And guess what?
There are eight more flavors that I elected not to enumerate. In other words, the good folks at Stove Top have saddled us with a tyranny of choices.
I grab Traditional before confronting the next few items on the list.
- Turkey Gravy: 1 packet (we need two, but we still have one from last year)
- Sweet potatoes: 3
- Cranberry sauce: 2 cans (nobody eats it, but Uncle Earl insists on it)
- Frozen corn: 2 small bags or one mega-bag
- Honey Baked Bean: 4 cans
Standing in the turkey gravy aisle, I realize that sweet potatoes are clear on the other end of the store, so I abandon my cart along with the list and trot back over to produce.
Since the store is crowded, it is easier to travel without a cart, but the trick is to remember where one leaves it.
Easier said than done.
After free-wheeling around the store several times, I find myself juggling arm loads of cranberry sauce, frozen corn and baked beans. It is no fun. I’d rather handle barn-cats in heat.
So where did I leave my cart?
I swear I left it in the freezer section, but it is not there. Someone must have moved it. I hope not the store staff. They grab abandoned carts from time to time and shuffle them off to goodness knows where. But I finally find it, along with my typewritten list and check out the next item:
- Premium Madagascar organic vanilla extract
When did something as basic as vanilla extract become a status-symbol? There are more choices of vanilla extract than there are of Stove Top Stuffing. Where will this madness end?
- Organic Colombian fair-trade coffee
Hey, I have no problem with organic or fair-trade anything – as long as I don’t have to hunt it down in a crowded holiday market.
- items even more obscure
- things I have never heard of
- stuff no one has ever heard of
What was once a shopping trip has become a madcap scavenger hunt. Where did she come up with half this stuff?
And then there is:
- Turkey gravy: 1 packet
Is this a repeat item or did she change her mind about the packet in the cupboard from last year – but at least I know where to find the blasted thing.
I return to the turkey gravy aisle, where I find a cart with a big turkey, turkey gravy, Stove Top Stuffing (Traditional) and cranberry sauce.
Standing beside the cart is a guy about my age and general disposition. I recognize him as the husband of one of my wife’s quilting friends. He is tracing his way through a type written list using his index finger. When he gets to the bottom, he starts again at the top.
“Hey, that’s my cart,” I confess, “and my list.”
He looks at me, utterly bewildered, and then he looks at the cart I am pushing and all the items in it. Slowly, as awareness dawns on him, he cracks a big, big grin.