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Posts Tagged ‘supermarket shopping’

On Sunday morning I found myself standing at the supermarket checkout behind an unnervingly good-looking Young Man doing what I’d call a “bachelor boy shop”: a litre of orange juice, an apple and some Lynx deodorant. And there was little old me, in my tracky-dacks and birkenstocks, buying a bumper box of sanitary hygiene products and (as per my husband’s request) “a shit load of pegs”.

I watched the Young Man carefully place a divider between our shopping items and thought about tapping him on the shoulder and saying “Uh, I think they’ll know where your shopping ends and mine begins.” But I didn’t, mostly because I didn’t trust myself not to lick my lips salaciously while doing it. He really was That Good Looking.

Then I began thinking of saying things like “I once was young and beautiful too, you know.” and then “Well, I was once young…”. Or perhaps even a little soliloquy like “My life is not so different to yours, actually, buddy. In case you were, like, wondering… For one thing, we both look like we’ve been up for most of the night. Admittedly it’s unlikely to be for the same reasons… Let’s just say that the kind of stains I’ll be washing out from my sheets later this morning are of a completely different nature from the stains you’ll probably be washing out of yours.”

And then, I thought to myself, that it was exactly this kind of statement that made Young Men like him not really want to talk to me much, even when I was young. So I changed tack in the conversation, which you can do quite easily when it is entirely imaginary. 

“Yeah, being a parent is just like taking drugs, man,” I imagined myself saying to him. Which was something some friends and I had conversed about wittily just the other day (a non-imaginary conversation, actually). We had decided that both parenting and (some) drug-taking are the same in that they are “life-style choices” that are all-consuming and expensive. And, we concluded, if you do too much of either, you could do yourself some serious long-term damage.

“Except,” I had announced to my friends at the time. “One makes you fat and the other one makes you thin.”

We had all laughed at this but then I had suddenly stopped laughing to say: “Shit, I obviously chose the wrong thing.”

“And I obviously chose the wrong drug,” my friend Mzzzz E had piped up. And we had all laughed again because she was So Clearly Hot. 

But then I stopped imagining myself telling the Young Man about Mzzzz E at this point because I realised he would totally fancy the pants off her and this moment was about Him and Me, even if he had actually paid for his three items and already left the supermarket. That’s the greatest thing about imaginary conversations: the person you’re talking to doesn’t even have to be there. Genius. 

Anyway, when I finally got outside, I wasn’t at all surprised to find my husband sitting in the Love Bus and gazing longingly at the Young Man as he put his shopping away in his bicycle panniers. As I said, he really was That Good Looking.

“He’s really, really, ridiculously good looking, isn’t he?” I whispered, as I got into the car.

“What?” my husband said. “I was checking this guy’s bicycle out. It’s a beauty.”

And he licked his lips salaciously.

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It all started with The Pixie saying something innocent like “The Duck One‘s coming shopping!”. And, because I was running late enough as it was and didn’t have time to have That Battle with her, I pretended I didn’t hear her and that might have been that. But eight hours later, just as I was making dinner, The Pixie suddenly said, all innocence: “Where’s Duckwy?”.

A frantic search of the car and the usual spots where the Duck One likes to hang out (expertly wedged down the back of the couch, left to relax and unwind by itself under the trampoline, draped elegantly across the toilet floor) turned up nothing. 

I pleaded with The Pixie to remember where she last saw “Duckwy”.

“Eeee-eeeee-eee” she said, squeaking like a mouse in an entirely unhelpful manner. 

I then asked Mr Justice whose steel-trap memory can always be relied on, particularly in drawn-out court proceedings – which were sure to follow should the Duck One not be found.

“Uh, I remember she had it in her shopping basket at Coles, but after that…” And then he shrugged his shoulders. 

My blood ran cold. And not necessarily because I had any kind of personal relationship with the Duck One, but because my husband was not going to be home at all that evening and I’d have to deal with any fall-out on my own.

I leapt into “Mission: Rescue” mode. “Right!” I hollered at the kids. “It’s almost eighteen hundred hours. We’ve got a man left behind enemy lines. We have to go to back to Coles to leave no stone unturned and no aisle unchecked until we bring that soldier home.” And then I mobilized the troops by herding them into the Love Bus, shouting: “Go! Go! Go! Go!”. 

Okay, so it wasn’t quite like that. I think I probably said something more like: “If we can get to Coles and back as quickly as possible, you can eat dinner in front of The Simpsons”. 

Or even: “There’s a lollipop in it for anyone who goes like the clappers.”

Whatever. The main point is that we all got to Coles in record time and ran straight to the information counter.

“I think we left my daughter’s comforter here this morning,” I said, somewhat breathlessly, the panic in my voice barely disguised. “It’s, uh, a manky piece of grey cloth with ducks on it.”

The lady behind the counter happened to be the same checkout chick we’d been served by that morning.

“Oh, yes. I picked it up and put it… uh… here,” she said, looking over at a shelf where the Duck One was obviously no longer. All I could think of was grabbing a phone and arguing my way past Prime Minister Rudd’s switchboard to call in air strikes on Coles. I felt like screaming at the entire supermarket “You’ll pay for this! YOU’LL ALL PAY!!!!” when I spotted a bin below the shelf she was looking at.

“Ah, I think it might be there,” I said somewhat sheepishly. I knew that some manager had come along, looked at Duck One and, rather than see it as the precious thing my daughter sees it as, had only seen as a potential carrier of e-coli, swine flu and/or cooties.

The lady scrummaged through the bin and lo! The Duck One was found. She put it in a plastic bag and handed it to my little girl, whose little face beamed with happiness.

“Whoever would have put such a precious thing in the bin?” the lady tutted, even though we both knew she’d probably go and scrub her hands long and hard after having handled it.

“Yayyyy!” said The Pixie. “Let’s go home and give Duckwy a bath!”. 

And as we walked back to the car, I watched her squeaking happily as she swung that bag around and I thought “There’s the most precious thing. That little girl there.” And then I thought “The Duck One is grounded for the term of the grey-manky-cloth life, so help me.”

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Every time I swipe my card at the supermarket there’s always a few anxious moments before the transaction is approved. And when the little machine gives me the nod, I grin like an idiot because I don’t have to go through the humiliating process of splitting payment over three cards or, worse still, having to say “Oh, I think I’ll leave it today” and walk proudly away from $12 worth of essential groceries. 

Somewhat ironically, after a particularly nail-biting swipe experience the other day, The Pixie and I were approached in the supermarket car park by a Gentleman With Extremely Poor Dental Hygiene asking for money. I explained that I had just swiped my account clean and had no cash on me, but he wouldn’t let it go.

“Don’t you have just 20 cents you can spare me? Just a few coins?” he pleaded. But as he spoke, I saw his eyes shift past me to the filthy interior of the Love Bus, across to my daughter who was showing a healthy portion of underpants and bum-crack and had a face covered in some unidentifiable green sticky substance, and then back to the necklace around my neck that literally came out of a Bi-Lo christmas cracker three years ago.

In the end, I didn’t even end up having to refuse him a second time because he suddenly backed straight off. Wishing me luck, he went off to find someone a little less tragic and leaving me to feel relieved, annoyed and guilty all at the same time. 

The Pixie was intrigued. “Why did that man ask us for money?” she wanted to know.

“Um, because he doesn’t have much himself.” I replied.

“Oh. Why doesn’t he have much money? He should buy lots of money,” she said. “When we get some more money, we could give him some.”

“Maybe,” I said, changing the subject. Something told me he wasn’t going to spend any money we gave him on a toothbrush but how could she understand that? Why should I want her to understand that? She was only four, after all. 

Recently my visiting mother-in-law found herself desperately trying to distract Mr Justice from reading too much of the explicit signage outside our local “Adult Shop” when they went together to pick-up the take-away (from the Chinese Restaurant next door and NOT the Adult Shop, I hasten to add).

“The kids will have to grow up fast living around here!” she remarked to my husband afterwards. Certainly, I didn’t think, when I embarked on this Journey called Motherhood, that I would find myself having to explain to a three year old what a syringe is and what it was doing lying in our street. But then again, there are far more dangerous parts of the world for a child to grow up where they are exposed to far greater horrors than junkies and syringes and signs with the words “XXX Sex Toys” in them. 

The question remains, however: how do you bring up your children to be worldy-wise but not world-weary? How do you protect them without smothering them? How do you preserve their childhood and the innocence and joy that it should contain but without bringing them up in a bubble?

My husband has often said that he would like his bio to read “[Name] grew up in [Suburb] in the 1950s and was horrified, upon leaving, to discover it was actually 1995.”

“Still, my childhood wasn’t so bad”, my husband has subsequently mused. “At least I knew how to use chopsticks”.

Note to self: teach children how to use chopsticks. 

Another note to self: find a way of finishing this blog post without answering any of the questions I’ve raised because I really Don’t. Have. A. Clue. and these were things that were just swilling around in my brain and nobody comes to my blog Looking For Answers Anyway. Unless, of course, they come here looking for the answer to the question “How do I decorate a boob cake?” (and quite a few do, according to my WordPress Stats), in which case they really will be disappointed. 

Final note to self: write a blog post entitled “How to decorate a boob cake” so at least something somewhere is answered. But just make sure the kids don’t see the diagrams in the interests of preserving their innocence just that little bit longer.

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I think the Health & Safety Officer at the local supermarket has definitely issued some kind of warning about me. Whenever I approach a checkout, the cashiers kind of flinch. It might just be because my children tend to be screaming by that stage of the shopping process, but it might also just be because my recyclable “green” bags present a very real health risk. 

Ah, the green bags. A couple of years ago, I handed over a huge wad of them to the cashier which turned out, upon closer inspection, to just be two bags, one of which was designed to carry wine bottles and no use at all when it came to the packing of Bumper Size cereal boxes. The cashier obviously took pity on me and gave me a little something for nothing.

“Some customers,” she said, “Put their green bags inside one of the ‘chiller bags’. It keeps them neat and all together and you always have enough at the checkout.”

Such sensible advice! Of course she might have just been directed by management to cross-promote her supermarket’s branded chiller bags but, what the hey, I bought one anyway and have been storing the vast majority of my green bags in there ever since. 

Now, until I saw that toilet paper ad about “folders” and “scrunchers”, I never even thought there was another way to deal with toilet paper other than to pull off half the roll and scrunch it into a ball big enough to protect my hand from all excretive matter. ANYWAY, it turns out my mother is a reformed scruncher when it comes to green bags and now folds them neatly in the “mother” bag. I tried it for a while but I just can’t find the time to neatly fold them all and, hell, those bags don’t fold easily and I get as little OCD satisfaction from folding them as I do from trying to fold fitted sheets. Fact. 

And so I’ve gone back to scrunching. And I don’t just scrunch a few in there, I scrunch a lot. So the resulting effect is like one of those “can ‘o’ snakes” you buy in joke shops – the poor unsuspecting cashier unzips the chiller bag only to have all the green bags spring out into their face, giving them a bit of a shock to say the least and potentially taking an eye out One of These Days. 

Which was why I think Health and Safety have issued some kind of warning about me to their staff – although after yesterday’s little shopping adventure, I would definitely have been upgraded to a Category Seven Risk. 

You see, yesterday I was just doing a “mini-shop” and, wanting to avoid an unnecessary can’o’snakes incident, had just grabbed a couple of rogue bags stuffed at the back of the cupboard. 

The cashier gave me this strange look when she packed my shopping but I thought it was only because I’d bought a 3 litre container of milk marked down to a dollar because it only had one more day left before the use-by date. I felt like saying “I’ve got three kids. We drink a lot of milk. So sue me.” But I held my tongue. 

It wasn’t until I got home and unpacked the bags that I finally understood the “look”. Inside one bag, along with all the groceries, was a petrified carrot. And in the other bag, was a small pink pair of size 2 underpants that had obviously once been well and truly soaked in urine and then forgotten and left to dry out at the bottom of the bag and at the back of the cupboard over the course of at least a year. They had  subsequently taken on a strange cardboard quality and were prettily dotted with black mildew, like some kind of experimentation in organic batik methods gone terribly, terribly wrong.

I’m sure if my mother were the type to leave comments on my blog, she might gently suggest I go back to folding. That way there’s never any risk of leaving anything behind. And I won’t become the only customer in the brief history of our local Coles whose bags they will ask to check on the way *in* to the store.

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