I’m not allowed to go the grocery store by myself. This is not a joke. All my friends know this to be true and are annoyed that I complain about this totalitarian state, as they would be only too happy to foist the weekly grocery trip upon their husbands.
Not only is my husband the Bob Villa of our group (that’s a whole other blog), but he’s also the Chef Boyardee. When we host a dinner party I can always detect slight disappointment on our guests’ faces when they learn I did the cooking that evening.
Given that my husband does most of the cooking, it only makes sense that he does the grocery shopping. I used to do some grocery shopping, but my license was revoked one fateful day when I came home with 3 bags and a receipt for over $60. To fully understand the ramifications of this event you have to know that my husband’s record is 8 bags for under $40 (and he doesn’t clip coupons). I buy what I want; he buys what’s on sale.
The effort and creativity required to achieve such results is staggering; it requires multiple trips to the store a week, a near-photographic memory of the price for every item in the cart (this from a man that can’t remember what I said to him an hour ago) because when an item rings up incorrectly – it’s free, and a willingness to regularly look past the “sell by” date (“that’s just a suggestion”). When you open our freezer door you’re met with a blinding array of bright yellow and orange “Manager’s Special” stickers on the contents (what we’ve come to call “used meat”). It’s a fine line between ptomaine poisoning and a bargain, and we walk it every night in our house.
One day I had the bright idea to go the store with him. If I couldn’t go alone, I could certainly go if I had adult supervision, right? Wrong. He got to hold the list, and push the cart, and I was sent on individual sorties for single items.
“Why don’t you get a jar of mayo while I look at the used meat and day-old bread? Why did you buy Hellmann’s?”
“Isn’t that a good brand?”
“How much did it cost?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ok, well we can go back and check. See the store brand is $0.39 less for 25% more” and the swap is made, and so on. This is not really fun for me (or him either as he pointed out), so we don’t shop together anymore.
Only when we’re really up against the wall (guests arriving in an hour, he’s mid-soufflé and we realize we are 2 eggs short) am I allowed to go to the store alone. I’m given a list, and only enough money to pay for exactly what’s on the list, and the bag is checked when I return.
Recently when he was away on a business trip I took our always-running grocery list to the store. My first solo flight in years; I was nervous but certain that I could pull it off. He hadn’t been home for 10 minutes when he noticed my purchases in the pantry and then went to the refrigerator, “What did you do?”
“I thought I’d help you out and do the grocery shopping.”
“Honey, I know you were trying to help, but it’s OK, I don’t need the help. Luckily it looks like you bought the right things and no one got hurt. It’s my job to do the grocery shopping, its man’s work.” And with that I got a loving pat on the head and a kiss on the cheek. I’m not the pilot; I’m not even the co-pilot. I’m the junior flight attendant - in coach.