Monday, December 19, 2011

Curmudgeon household so busy that...

I actually went to the grocery store yesterday. Solo.

Long Suffering Spouse almost completed the holiday baking this weekend. The cookie runs (the only reason some people talk to me at all) were supposed to have begun today -- but will be postponed now until Wednesday because...

Long Suffering Spouse did the Christmas shopping yesterday.

We've been postponing this -- much to my good wife's chagrin. She hates last-minute shopping. (I, on the other hand, can't quite see it: Christmas is still several days away. It's not even close to the last minute yet.) The reason for the delay has been strictly financial. I haven't brought a check home since mid-August. This has a deleterious effect on one's Christmas spirit. Mine, certainly.

But we must appear with presents for Nochebuena at Abuela's house. My wife's sister Josephine and her new husband Ferdinand will have presents (gift cards or bottles) for all of our kids, a bottle of scotch for me, and a sweater for my wife that she'll hate. Josephine's kids are younger; her oldest is in college, the youngest in third grade. Josephine favors two of her four kids; her partiality is obvious to strangers in the street. Long Suffering Spouse and I think more highly of the other two. Someone has to.

I floated the idea of not bringing presents this year -- if you can't tell family you're having a crappy year, who can you tell? -- but Long Suffering Spouse would have none of it. We're using her schoolteacher's salary to try and keep up the minimums on the credit cards during this downturn, so I was reduced to raiding a savings account for Christmas cheer. We have two. Between them, they could barely make one mortgage payment. Now they can't do even that. There used to be more there, but what could we do? At this special time of year, Long Suffering Spouse had to go out and buy Christmas gifts for people she doesn't much like and which they won't appreciate with money we can't afford to spend. Tra la la la la la la.

Younger Daughter -- home from school as of the end of the past week -- volunteered to go with my poor wife on this mission. Long Suffering Spouse offered me dispensation. After confirming, as best a clueless male can, whether this was really dispensation or a loyalty test, I agreed to stay behind and finish the week's laundry. I probably did not adequately conceal my relief.

I watched the Bears self-destruct again and tried to work on a PLA that needs to be in the hands of the referring attorneys by Christmas. Where was this work earlier?

I was actually making progress when Long Suffering Spouse reported in from the field.

Crowds were miserable, she said, prices were high, parking well nigh impossible. Nothing on sale was worth buying; anything worth getting was overpriced. She and Younger Daughter were going to a different mall.

This was when I mentioned the groceries.

Sunday is grocery day in the Curmudgeon household. I sometimes accompany my wife on this mission; usually I stay home. I could tell from the gathering dusk, however, that my wife was never going to finish what she was doing and get to the grocery store. So I volunteered.

Long Suffering Spouse protested; she'd get to it, she insisted. You don't have to, she told me. I persisted. "The list is on the refrigerator," she finally said, "and we need milk, too, and orange juice." I'll remember, I said. "Call me if you have problems." I will, I promised.

Then, screwing my courage to the sticking-place, I headed for the local Jewel.

Long Suffering Spouse has a methodical approach to grocery shopping. She starts are one side of the store (the Osco side) and goes up and down each aisle until she winds up on the other side of the store (the produce section). But I had such a short list. I steered my cart right up the middle of the store, toward the back, where I knew the milk was kept.

My method was simple: Find the stuff I knew, in the places where I knew where to look, then worry about everything else.

A simple plan, but complex in execution: A GPS would have been unable to track my progress through the store... up this aisle... down the next... doubling back... first left, then right... wasn't I just in this aisle? Why didn't I see this before? I knew where to look for things. The modern grocery store is arranged so that anything I want is on the bottom shelf. I think security was following me before I was through; my course was that erratic.

One of the top items of the list was gluten-free pretzels. I don't think I ever heard of 'gluten' until the last couple of years; I'm still not sure what it is. I only know two things: (1) some people need to eat "gluten-free" and (2) most things I want to eat probably contain it. These pretzels were needed for the very last item on my wife's holiday baking list (she dips them in chocolate).

I found pretzels in several aisles of the store, pretzels of every size and shape -- but nothing that said "gluten-free." This was one of my calls to Long Suffering Spouse in the course of the mission. (No, she told me, "0 transfats" is not the same as gluten-free.")

Knowing she was already highly stressed, I limited my calls as much as possible. Still, I probably called four times. And I forgot to buy bagels. And I got the wrong paper towels. And I got the wrong potatoes, too. But I remembered the game pieces for the holiday contest the store is running. And I remembered to bring and use our cloth bags.

Long Suffering Spouse and Younger Daughter didn't get back from the stores until nearly 9:00pm. I got the better end of this deal by far.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

buggers to the unwanted shopping curmy. i say don't do it!!! tell then you donated something in their names. i'm serious!

and relax. if you can. i doubt it though from the sound of it.

ayla (lala) has to eat gluten free. it has something to do with flour stuff somehow.

merry christmas my friend.

smiles, bee