Oh, what we must go through to buy some groceries

Deep thinkers throughout the ages have devoted themselves to solving the mysteries of life. So, where are these guys when you are trying to find your car keys?

Anxious moments are spent looking on top of the fridge and in drawers (stopping to put the cap on the toothpaste and straightening pictures on the wall) then finally, all hopes exhausted, there they lay…inside a sweaty tennis shoe, under a pile of wet towels in the laundry basket.

As usual, I was in my typical morning panic.  There was nothing in the pantry to make a decent kid’s lunch.  So I had to cleverly create with the half-wrapped saltines way in the back.  I slapped them together with honey.  I sequestered all the loose grapes in the bottom of the fruit bowl and threw them in a baggy.  Thank goodness there was a string cheese stuck in the corner of the fridge light bulb and alone pickle in the pickle jar.  No drink.  Do you think she will mind?

Who am I kidding?  I will hear about this rotten lunch for days.  There is no more dragging my feet.  I have got to buy some groceries.

It was of no comfort to me knowing that I had found my car keys only to misplace the grocery store coupon book.  Without it, I knew the consequences: looking around each isle cautiously, as an onslaught of little red tags attached to all the items I need that day to wag their tongues at me chanting, “What a dim bulb you are for missing all these exceptional savings.”

I dropped everything and took a deep breath, and tore through the house.  I couldn’t leave without it.

Twenty minutes later, I finally arrive at the store. I grab a cart (which by the fourth aisle is a third full of groceries)the wheel wobbles and squeaks.  (Why me?  I always get the bent fork at dinner, too.)  I breathed a sigh of relief when I remembered what a luxury it was to shop without children.

It is downright expensive to grocery shop with that toddler strapped to the front of the cart.

Your mind is trying to decipher a mathematical equation “Is the two for $5 a good deal?” when out yells, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Now.”

After three turns down the aisle, you have noticed 17 items, “sticky fingers” has flung in the cart, a headache, and a broken vinegar bottle you left in the last aisle.  You spend more time picking them up and putting them back in the cart than shopping. Finally, you end the whining and get the cookie, only to have them take one bite and fling it.

It was bad enough that they insisted on wearing the Halloween cape they have had on every day for 40 days and nights and the Burger King crown. By the time you get to the check-out stand, your hair is standing on end, and you have spent the entire month’s budget.

Call it woman’s intuition, but I’ve never trusted the grocery clerk who is chewing gum and wants to talk about everything you’re buying.

“Hmmm, I see we’re having pork chops tonight,” they say knowingly. Then, they tilt their head and accusingly ask if you’re going to have those canned cherries for dessert, too.  Or, they hand you the candy bar with a bit of wink and say, “Bet you want this now.”

‘Ohhh, nooo,” you say, “Throw it in the sack.”  Even though it is the only thing you have thought clearly about all day- but the heck if you’re going to let this squirrely guy know that.

Or the box boy who thinks he can stuff your $100 groceries all into one bag and is proud of it.

But my personal favorite is the guy who picks up the perfect peach. You spent 10 minutes checking for bruises and rolls them down the counter as you watch them bang against the wall.  Then the box boy picks it up, throws it in the air, and slam dunks it into the grocery sack, and the whole time they are talking to each other about that lousy clerk who takes too many breaks.

You know life is out of control when your only form of entertainment is to find the longest line and speed read every magazine in sight, hoping the clerk doesn’t pick you to start a new line so you can finish that article on Jean Claude Van Damme.  Or when you see a magazine you would love to have and suddenly realize that you do, and it has been sitting on the coffee table for a week, and you have never opened it.

For a reason I can never understand, I always get the box boy who walks out behind me pushing my loaded cart, and when I reach my car, I turn around, and he is across the parking lot following another woman.

But I know we agree. Of course, the best part is getting them home and finding someone else to take them out of the car!

Oh, by the way, since school is out early tomorrow, maybe when the kids come home, we should have an extra special lunch, considering…


This crunchy stir-fry is easy to put together.

1-1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken

1 -10-oz package frozen stir-fry vegetables

1/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup orange juice

Two teaspoons cornstarch

One 3-oz can chow mein noodles

Mix in saucepan chicken, vegetables, water, and ginger.  Stir.

Set pan on medium-high heat.  Cook till bubbly.  Cover. Turn to low heat cook for five minutes.

In the bowl, put orange juice and cornstarch.  Stir.  Stir juice mixture into chicken mixture.  Cook and stir till thick and bubbly.  Then cook and stir for two minutes more.

For each serving, arrange one-quarter of the chow mein noodles on each plate. Then, spoon the chicken mixture over the noodles.  Makes four servings.

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