Men and groceries
Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:06 pm
Some women like to spend the day at a spa to relax and unwind. Others like to go shopping at fancy upscale department stores. Some women like a night on the town at an expensive restaurant. Me? I only ask for one thing. Just one tiny thing. I like to go grocery shopping ... alone. There’s just something about leisurely strolling down the cracker aisle that’s therapeutic for my soul. I like to look at every bag of carrots to make sure I get the right one. I enjoy deciding between honey nut oat bran flakes with almonds and honey nut oat bran flakes with walnuts. Examining the new flavored creamers and the 786 types of yogurt is somehow like leaning back in a comfortable chair listening to Bach or Mozart. Relaxing. Inspiring. It doesn’t even matter that I’m not buying yogurt. It’s just interesting to note that evidently there’s quite a demand for vanilla-almond-caramel crunch low-fat sugar-free yogurt with granola clusters. Who would have known?
Lately my “spa day” at the grocery store has been an impossibility. In fact, the last three times I’ve shopped for groceries, all three of the men in my family were with me. That means a husband, a 13-year old man/boy — we’re not sure what to call him — and a 10-year old boy were available to “help” me with the shopping. And when it comes to filling the cart, they took their “helping” job quite seriously. Here are just a few of the verbal comments and questions made by my shopping male counterparts.
“Look, Mom! They have spicy jalapeno Christmas tree-shaped Cheez-Its and they’re only 2/$5. Can we get two boxes?”
“Mom, can we get this box of sugar-coated peanut puffs cereal with artificially flavored cherry bits? It’s only $4 ... and it’s vitamin fortified!”
“Honey, I picked up a few jars of peanuts and they had these caramel coated pretzels on sale. And the eggnog was on special, 2/$2. And I also got some ginger ale. I don’t remember why I got the ginger ale. It just seemed like a good idea.”
The grocery list becomes only a “list of suggestions” when it comes to the men in my family. They’re able to find all the things we evidently forgot to write down. And I’m not talkin’ about eggs and milk and wheat bread. No. I’m talkin’ about rubber boots, Pop-Tarts™, a camouflage cooler, baling wire (on sale) and cheesy-flavored popcorn in a Santa Claus tin for only $8.
I haven’t seen the hard research data to support my claims, but I have no doubt that the average American mom spends quite a bit more money in the grocery store when she brings the family along. After all, most of us moms wouldn’t have even been on the baling wire aisle so it would have been impossible for us to have nabbed that bargain along with the camouflage cooler for $9.99.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to hide my frustration while being bombarded with a cart full of products that, in my estimation, we really don’t need. But I’ve made a decision. As much as I love to grocery shop alone, there’s also something special about having the men along. In the blink of an eye, both our boys will be grown. And I’m sure I’ll wander down the cereal aisle wishing I could hear their loud, enthusiastic voices once more. Until then, I’ll be eating cheesy popcorn and counting my blessings.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 12.10.08