Friday, November 28, 2008

A Hero's Tale: Betty Fights Through Her Illness To Shop For Thanksgiving



It's the day after Thanksgiving, that most merciful of days. I, for one, am glad Thanksgiving is over. Yes, it's a delightful holiday in which we reflect upon our blessings and give thanks for all we have, but, it's just a snoot-full of work too, starting with the grocery shopping. As you all know, I was sick, sick, sick before Thanksgiving. However, I was determined not to miss work and I knew that Husband Of Betty (hereafter referred to as HOB) was busy, busy, busy with his job so I decided to go for the holiday groceries early on Wednesday morning before I went to work. I told HOB the plan and bid him a fond adieu, assuming I would not be back before he went to work.

I had to admit, even in the haze of my illness, I felt a little smug about arriving at Albertsons at 6:45am. My lark-like ways were working to my benefit and I was avoiding the late-shopping riff-raff that would be filling the stores Wednesday night. Judging from the parking lot, my plan to beat the crowds had worked, so I entered the store, Kleenexes in one hand, and efficient list in the basket of the cart. As soon as the double doors opened, I could immediately sense a change in my normally sensible, prudent Albertsons The store had been stocked so thoroughly overnight by men with three lettered names, that it resembled those jumbled, illusion-filled Houses of Horror some baser persons delight in at Halloween. Even from the front, the absolute pregnant nature of the store saturated each and every corner. Displays where no displays had ever been before sat, fat and heavy in the aisles and around corners, creating a dizzying obstacle course. I suddenly wished I had asked HOB to come along, but I knew he had to be at work soon and was at home, showering and getting ready for His Busy Day.

I took a deep breath and plunged in. I am woman. I will procure food for my family, I thought, slightly sweating and rubbing at my sore neck. I made it by the dozens and dozens and menacing pies, tip-toed through the valley between the plastic-wrapped turkeys, piled one on top of another and the bleachers of bacon who seemed to be just watching, waiting, perhaps, hoping for the show that an avalanche of the turkeys would provide. I turned the corner into the baking aisle to find no peace as each huge bag of flour and sugar seemed to groan from the weight of the writhing bag atop it. The bread aisle was a stuffy, oxygen-deprived zone as yeasty, plastic wrapped rolls strained at the little Plexiglass fences designed to keep them in. Like crowded, desperate refugees, they seemed to leap over one another in an attempt to GET OUT
Hoping for the serenity that soup connotes to the ill, I turned to that aisle to find the kind of soup I wanted was dispensed in one of those top-of-the-shelf gravity-fed dispensers. I reached for HOB'S favorite soup, withdrew the can and another can immediately took the place of the one I had taken. This irritated me. I took another and it was immediately replaced. Now who knows what undeveloped issue I have with the temporal nature of life, or perhaps this display represented this cold that had persisted within me, even though day after day I attempted to get rid of it, but this can thing really started to bother me. I couldn't help but think this dispenser was somehow mocking me, taunting, challenging me. I took another; it replaced it. I took another; it replaced it. My resolve grew. I took another. The cans just kept coming with more vengeance, as if thrown by an angry dictator who would have his will known and enforced. In a maniacal battle of wills, we fought until my knees weakened and I could stand it no longer. My nose was now completely blocked and I could feel a rash coming up on to my throat. I was exhausted by my outing and now my shoulders sagged. I dragged my cart to the cashier, unloaded it, all the time my shoulders stooped, my back bent. Despair filled my soul like the mucous that filled my nose. Alas, there is no Sudafed for the soul. I left the store knowing I had been defeated by the Campbell's Soup display.

I came home, unloaded the 143 bags of food, plopping them on the table, and dug through to find the perishables. I pushed them into the refrigerator and then, feeling perishable myself, crumpled onto the couch, checking the clock to see I had about and hour and a half before I had to go to work. It was then I heard the footsteps. HOB emerged, unshowered, stretching after an apparently exhausting hour of watching TV in one of the spare bedrooms. "What are you doing home?" I asked. "Oh," he replied. "Didn't I tell you? I have the day off."

I went to work early. When I got home all the groceries had been put away and the kitchen was really clean.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OMG -- HOB had the day off? Did you turn to Sudafed for comfort?