Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Grocery Shopping with Mate Is Telling

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Grocery Shopping with Mate Is Telling

Article excerpt

AS QUIETLY as I can, making less noise than the sound of skin being excoriated, very slowly, from a ripened apple, I tear the sheet of lined white paper from its spiral notebook, tucking it quickly into my skirt pocket.

My mate is out in the yard, engaged in life-or-death decision-making regarding the fate of his tomato plants. (To Stake Or Not To Stake, that is the question.) In a studied, casual tone that I hope will elicit no response other than an absent-minded wave, I call out, " 'Bye, back in a bit."

"Wait. Where are you going?" he inquires, squinting as he spins around to face the doorway in which I linger uneasily.

"Nowhere, just errands. The usual. Here and there. Rob a bank 'n' stuff, get a non-surgical lobotomy, half a knee wax, then off to the races, hi ho, jolly good . . ."

"You're going to the grocery store, aren't you?" he cuts in, with just the proper tinge of loss in his voice, as if I were shoving off to sail the Mediterranean without him or his struggling tomato plants.

"All right. Yes. I am going to the supermarket. I have my list," I admit, exposing a corner of the paper. "Want anything special?"

"Nah, that's OK. I'll go with you."

My heart sinks as we get into the car. This is exactly the brand of togetherness that highlights our vast differences like no other shared activity. Even our diverse tastes in leather - I prefer mine on my feet, he takes his in the form of beef jerky - are no match for the raw truths about us that only a grocery cart can expose.

It's not the actual trip to the market that irks; I enjoy being part of that sea of couples out for mundane Saturday afternoon shopping. The irritants come into play when we hit the crowded parking lot. It's a matter of style.

I play Jaws with my car in second gear, stalking victims as they emerge from the store with their bulging sacks of industrial-strength crunchies, non-grocery items like cheap neon-colored plastic folding loungers that bond immediately with human thigh skin and frozen foods with names like Auntie Tootie's Fat-Free Microwaveable Biodegradable Heat-Sealed Cheesy-Pretzie Doodles, or Close Your Eyes, You'll Think It's Meatless Yogurt!

My Other likes to race impatiently through the parking lanes until both he and the exhaust system of the car fume at the lack of available spots. …

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