I went on a quick trip to Target today and I used self check out for the one item I was buying. So, first, yes: I will accept your congratulations on being a woman who can walk into Target and purchase only the single item that she walked in to buy in the first place. I know it’s impressive.

But there’s a serious problem with that self check out situation. Which is that if I accidentally look up, I am terrified to see myself on a video monitor that is entirely too close to my head. The lighting is poor in Target, you guys. Also, I’m usually frowning in concentration, and. . . I don’t know. . . the angle basically adds two or three chins.

So here’s what I think Target should do. Add some Instagram-style filters. You know, they could be recording a crystal-clear image of me, just in case I’m trying to sneak extra stuff into my bag, but on the video screen, why not add a gentle rose-hued fuzziness? Maybe a little halo of flowers or something? They could even get super-creative, like add merchandise that’s currently on sale, so I can see how I’d look in that scarf that I didn’t stop to try on because I was a woman on a mission to purchase only one single thing (astringent, in case you’re wondering).   There’s just really no need for me to see myself all washed-out and scary-looking like that. It’s unkind.

In addition to a quick stop at Lowe’s and a dry cleaner drop-off, today I did my main weekly grocery shopping, and I am adjusting to the fact that Hannaford has caved to market forces and put a loyalty program into place. I dutifully downloaded the app several days ago, and since I shop all the freakin’ time, I had already visited the store twice and realized afterwards that I hadn’t done anything special to get whatever (stupid, annoying) credit I’m supposed to get for shopping while in possession of the super-special app. Today I finally realized that the little display screen asks if you’d like to add your phone number now. Which I did. But I find it peculiar that there’s all sorts of signage encouraging us to download this app, but not a single cashier has mentioned it. I mean, that’s got to be a calculation, right? Maybe they know that many Hannaford shoppers find the Price Chopper and ShopRite cards annoying, so they’re trying not to draw too much attention to the process at that critical moment when they’re asking for money? I don’t know. Whatever, I remain vaguely confused and dissatisfied about the whole process.

Speaking of confused and dissatisfied, one thing that consistently surprises me about my weekly shopping trip is how quickly after I’ve completed it that I realize that I forgot something. My record is after I’ve walked away from the cashier but before I’ve left the building. Today I made it until I was unloading the groceries and putting them in the refrigerator. I’d forgotten to get some sour cream. I was making tacos for dinner tonight, and while there are things that I buy for tacos (tacos, beef, refried beans, avocados), there are other items which I consider crucial to the taco experience but are also items that I’m likely to have “in stock,” so to speak, like olives and cheese and sour cream.  M in particular likes sour cream. Dammit. So I was plotting another potential trip already.

Another errand was a trip to Starbucks, and as soon as J heard that that’s where I was headed, she requested a fabulous Starbucks drink. . . maybe a cocoa. Okay, that’s just annoying: “You don’t even like anybody’s cocoa as much as the cocoa we make at home,” I reminded her. Which, hello, this is entirely true. For two mugs’ worth of cocoa I heat up one-third cup each of Ghirardelli’s baker’s chocolate and sugar with a pinch of salt into 2 mugs’ worth of milk and it is delightful. J conceded that our cocoa is better but pointed out that theirs is topped with whipped cream. I rolled my eyes as I headed out. I was planning to meet someone for a business-y meeting which it turns out that they’d forgotten about entirely. I am not a huge Starbucks girl, and I still get discombobulated trying to decide what exactly to order. In this case I was juggling my laptop and noticing that there wasn’t a single decent place to sit (I still miss and mourn for their old location), so I managed to accidentally order something just packed with caffeine. Which I totally couldn’t finish if I wanted any opportunity to sleep before 3 am. So I took tiny little sips and banged away at my laptop before confirming that my appointment wasn’t going to make it. So I took the opportunity to run over to ShopRite to grab sour cream and one of those spewing cans of whipped cream. We totally even had heavy cream in the fridge, but even if I’m too cheap to buy J an overpriced Starbucks cocoa, I’m willing to concede that there’s a special kind of magic involved in cream that can instantaneously whip itself. I had aspirations to make cocoa with whipped cream and maybe a fancy-pants dusting of cocoa powder or sprinkles, but that was not to be. Sadly, I had to prioritize dinner.

I headed home to try to make tacos very, very quickly, because poor M has only a short window (less than an hour) between the end of track practice and the time she needs to leave for soccer practice. I managed to get most of it done, too. When I picked her up from track, I asked M if she’d like one taco or two, and she answered, “Seven, I think.” She’s a big talker. She actually just went with two. And then, as she was throwing them together, I pulled out the freshly-purchased sour cream and she wrinkled her little nose, “No thanks. Not in the mood tonight.” Wonk-wahhhh. So much for my heroic grocery-shopping efforts.

In the chaos of getting together quick tacos and picking M up and getting her food as quickly as possible, I managed to forget entirely about the soy crumbles that I was making for J. Yep, J will eat a bit of meat here and there, but when she can get by on something that she considers to be “just as good,” she goes vegetarian. Which means that these days I make taco meat in one big pan and then a smaller pan of Morningstar Farms Griller crumbles. I am not going to argue with her about the “just as good” status of this food item, although I do have an opinion. J strongly believes that they’re practically the same as beef if you throw in enough cumin, chipotle pepper powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Sadly, though, after making my spices-based improvements, I promptly forgot about the seasoned soy crumbles on the stove as  I was schmooshing avocados. It is disorienting, because beef takes a while to cook, and soy crumbles. . . do not.  Next thing you know I had charred soy crumbles, which are just plain terrible. There is no getting around it.

Which meant that I was headed to the grocery store again! When J heard that I was going she felt terrible, since it was because I’d screwed up the special dish I’d made just for her. First she was convinced that we must have another bag of Grillers crumbles in the freezer. I was skeptical. She went running to the freezer and started rummaging until she found. . . dang, a bag of Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patties. And she looked some more, and found another, and then another bag of breakfast “sausages.” This is another grocery shopping issue I have. Someone in the family will become very enthusiastic about something, and then I buy more of it, and then I haven’t realized that they’re sick of it, so I buy more, and no one tells me that they’ve moved on in their culinary lives, so when I’m at the store I think, “Do we have that thing my beloved family member really likes?” and if I can’t remember, I decide to buy some “just in case,” and next thing you know, I have stockpiled enough cottage cheese and chickpeas to live on them for months. Actually, I’m kidding about the chickpeas. This family never gets tired of chickpeas. They are practically their own food group at our house. But, the point is: there were no Grillers crumbles at our house, except the charred ones. So J took another tack and headed to the stove, “I think these are okay!” she said. God love her. I was skeptical, and she insisted, “No, really, they’re not bad!” I stood there, watching her, as she took a spoonful of charred soy crumbles and put them into her mouth and then clearly wished that she’d never put them into her mouth, wished that she hadn’t, after all, pressed this point, and her mouth was making chewing motions that were incredibly awkward because you could tell that she was trying to figure out how to masticate without exposing the stuff to her tongue’s taste buds. Still, she tried to look like they were a-okay, tried to keep a poker face while avoiding direct eye contact. I snorted. “I’m going to the store to get more.” As I was grabbing my purse I heard her call out weakly, “Thank you, Mom. . . .”

Okay, sure. Maybe it’s ridiculous that I went out to the store again, because clearly my daughter could have sucked it up with a bean-and-cheese-and-olive-and-avocado-and-fresh salsa-and-corn taco. In fact, now that I list it out like that, “sucked it up” doesn’t even seem like the correct term, exactly. But my kids are delightful and they are so clearly spinning toward that next phase when they are adults who will leave the house entirely, so in the meantime, I head back out to buy some damn soy crumbles.

In spite of these many challenges, I was pleased that I managed to escape the house and make it to Zumba at the JCC, where I saw my new favorite teacher, Carolyn, for the first time in a long while. I want to be this woman when I grow up. She is a teensy older lady with carefully coiffed hair, a fully made-up face, and peppy coordinated Zumba outfits who manages to seem entirely sincere in her amazed appreciation of her students’ dance talents and enthusiasm. She just radiates warmth and good will toward everyone. Somehow even as people are screwing up her choreography and awkwardly shaking their hips and sweating like crazy, everyone has the sort of weird glow of well-being that you see in cats resting in sunshine or dogs getting their bellies’ rubbed. It’s amazing.

So, busy day. I’m going to see if I can manage not to go on any errands tomorrow.


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