That particular night I ran in for Tidy Cat, Kitten Chow, a roll of toilet paper and a deli-made veggie wrap. I threw all into my cart and hurried through the store, the air conditioning already chilling me, my sweatshirt still damp, my tossed up hair kinking around the edges, cheeks flushed, my legs and arms goose-pimpled and bright white under the store lights, my stomach growling louder than the canned overhead music.
As I rounded past the produce section, and back towards checkout, I ran smack into one of my favorite teachers from senior year high school. Hello?!?!?!? Major crush/Psychology teacher/head of the Environmental Club, Oh my aching sweaty ass, why am I not wearing lip shine, and why don’t I go tanning?!!?!!?!? Could my freakishly horsy legs be any whiter?!?!?!? Can I just die right now?
However, I kept it together through the hellos and how have you beens, and his, “I had no idea you lived in Wisconsin,” let alone smack dab back in the county where I grew up! Yeah, good luck getting out of this one, Little Miss You Were Getting Out of This Area as Soon as You Graduated! Which I did, really, for a while, I really did! I had been places!
I skirted over how I got back here, the one and almost two final divorces, etc. etc. and chose instead to focus on how far I had come, my magnificent three children, my fabulous work-at-home career, my writing, my full life, my biking (at least I looked that part/all athletic and SWEATY!!!!).
The more we talked, the more I realized his catching me up on his continued teaching, successes and family more closely matched his cart, which was full of wholesome goodness, whereas my cart contained the Tidy Cat, the Kitten Chow, the one lone roll of Scott Toilet Tissue and a single-serving Saran-wrapped veggie wrap from the deli!
Success, my aching sweaty ass! Crazy vegetarian cat lady! LOSER!
I’ve seen the man since then as my youngest, and soon-to-be graduated daughter had this man as one of her also favorite teachers this last four years (because it was his mind after all that truly rocked) and she enjoyed his classes and his Academic Decathlon coaching, etc. He was a student teacher when I was a senior, and ironically he’ll be retiring this year as Alice graduates.
It’s doubtful he remembered the night in the grocery store where I looked like the crazy sweaty cat lady. Yet, I still remember it as me hoping he didn’t think I was “pretending to be” the wildly fulfilled, successful mother of three thriving children which is funny because, hello?!!?? That was me, never mind what wasn’t in my shopping cart! We have, in fact, caught up in the recent past when Alice entered high school so at least he knows one of my kids isn't a cat.
Anyways, I thought of all of this again this afternoon as I ran into the local grocery store with my eldest (28, just turned so) to “grab a few items for myself.” Normally, I have her snatch items for me, while I read in the vehicle, but truth be told today I had to take a piss, so I also went into the actual building, shocking I know, but contrary to popular belief, I don't always send my minions in to get my bread and milk!
Carol was shopping for herself and her three kids, my little grand girls (not so little, really, at 9, 8 and 6). I was shopping for myself and—I was shopping for myself, and no one else. Just me, myself and I. Therefore, she had the cart, and I was using only a tiny, teensy portion, a wee corner of the giant mesh contraption.
Alice was at work. Mark is in Iowa. He may, in fact, not be home through the weekend. It's a holiday weekend, and luck of the draw he's on-call for travel. His travels may not bring him close enough to home at week’s end to unpack for the repack. This week-into-the-weekend might find him on the “staying gone" through early next week.
On the per usual of late, and most of this year (the last year, and the one leading up to it) Alice is “home”, but often not, so once we’ve talked schedules for the week, I don’t often shop for her at all when it comes to “provisions.” That’s pretty much the gist of what it’s like having a teenager working their way out of your house into their adulthood.
The dogs don’t need a thing, of course, even though they get shit all the time.
By shopping with Carol today, and grabbing those few things, I will be at a loss tomorrow. How can that be, you might ask. Well, on Thursdays, I take Mark’s parents grocery shopping, our weekly routine. Every Thursday as we peruse the store, his mom will ask me, “Anne, don’t you need anything,” and I’ll shrug, think over my stacked pantry and Lazy Susan cabinets, full freezer compartments, what’s left in the crisper and realize, “Um, no, I’m good to go, not much going on, or going in my stomach of late. Nobody really around next couple of days."
Donna will continue to pick and choose this and that for seven days of menu options at their place to hold them over until our next shopping adventure. In the end, I usually sheepishly grab a small tub of Greek yogurt so I don’t look like a loser butt. When Roger is at the deli he'll order the 8-piece chicken for their Thursday night dinner. When I help them unload their groceries, he'll send me home with a leg, a breast and a thigh. He does this every week so I don't "waste away to nothing," even though two seconds later he also likes to tell me to watch out that my "ass doesn't get as a big as a house."
Times definitely are changing back again, just the like the summer of my 35th year, where I never dirtied any silverware and told the wild story in the aisle of the grocery store about my dreamy-ass life while the man I told it to stared down at my cart which told another story. (CRAZY CAT LADY!)
IN MY CORNER OF ANOTHER PERSON'S CART TONIGHT: Sparkling mineral water, smoked gouda cheese, Greek yogurt, hazelnut rice crackers, corn nuts and a special treat some instant hazelnut and chai Maxwell House International Coffees, plus two magazines I threw in on impulse at the checkout, which I fully intend to read every word and then tear the buggers right up!
My dinner tonight, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’m still working and my medications would have interfered, there would be wine in that glass instead of sparkling mineral water … and if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted me some Greek yogurt, because I loves me some Greek yogurt, I wouldn’t even have dirtied a spoon:
Not sure which food groups I hit or missed but I used corn nuts as my vegetable, and then there was Greek honey yogurt, apples, smoked gouda and hazelnut rice crackers washed down with mandarin orange mineral water, oh and I tossed back some little white pills that are supposed to treat what's left of my brain with kindness.
Going on 50 really is looking like the new middle 30s. When I go to the grocery store, I don’t even need a list. I buy and fly on a whim.
p.s. I have placeholders for my 30 days writing/collages, but me thinks I might slam them all together in one post since they are cohesive to a point, even today’s so I’m not actually putting it here.
I’m sure the suspense is killing no one, but it’s keeping me alive and well inside and out.