Grocery Shopping

(2007)

Like countless other folks I went to the grocery store after work today. It was a viciously hot and humid day and the cool air inside the store felt nice. The produce section with its earthy smells was particularly cool. I lingered here.

Ah, there’s the Bar-B-Q sauce I like. I snatched up a bottle and promptly deposited into the cart. The produce section and the cooking sauces are at the entrance to this store so the BBQ sauce was the first item into the basket.

Yep, I had passed by all the fresh veggies and fruits to get to the bar-b-q sauce.  Thing is, I had done this very purposely. It was as if the sauce were in danger of rapidly disappearing. Once my visual cortex had locked onto the sauce every tracking/targeting system in my body had been engaged and mission failure was not an option.  Am I alone in thinking this odd?

As I wondered through the store placing items into the cart two things occurred to me. The first is that I am very good at picking out things like sauces. Like the BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, potato chip dip, spaghetti sauce and stuff like that. I am terrible at picking up real food though. I am truly awful at it.

I am so bad at it that it borders on a finely honed skill but really I just kind of fell naturally into it.

The second was this. I was going to prepare and consume all of this food alone. The joy of shopping vanished, the cool air was now hot on my face and I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide beneath the blankets.

I was embarrassed. Could they tell I was alone? Was my emptiness obvious or was I hiding it well?

Eighteen days ago I said goodbye to my family in the parking lot of the BFS gas station/convenience store at the Bruceton Mills exit of interstate 68. It was 5:30 in the morning and I was heading off to Korea.

Eight days ago I moved into a nice house. I went grocery shopping that day too but there were many distractions. I had to meet delivery people, the land lord, the real estate agent and the security service. Did I mention that it was also a work day? It was.

Today was quiet. No people to meet. No rush. I’m in the middle of a grocery store, realizing the barrenness of my life in the absence of my family. If I still smoked I’d leave all these groceries and just buy coffee. I’d survive on coffee and smokes. Smoking alone doesn’t remind you that you’re lonely. No. Instead it releases wonderful little chemicals that make the pain more bearable. I loved smoking. If it weren’t so hard to quit I’d start again.

Did you know that eating does not fill up the lonely? Nope. The lonely can go right on eating until theoretically they just pop.

I’m wondering why I am buying all this stuff. The idea of another meal alone is just plain depressing. Do single people think about this when they go grocery shopping?

I doubt it. Most people have not realized the strong bonds forged when sharing a meal. It’s as intimate a time as you can share with folks and still keep your clothes on.

O, good. The checkout counter. $87!!! You’ve got to be kidding me!!!! I’m only eating for one person here!!!!! Kick me while I’m down!!!

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