Queen of the Grocery Store

Dearest Reader,

Judging from the adult I’ve become, I would have been an incredibly loud and annoying child. Needless to say, I recall whiningly arguing with my mother about things I wanted her to buy for me at the supermarket. 

There were all sorts of items I would try to negotiate with, my major weapon being the tears of disappointment as I was stuck into a shopping trolley and simply moved away from the item of my desire.

One such instant was a bottle of shampoo in the shape of Maggie Simpson.

My parents, hard-working migrants, were delighted at the introduction of a cartoon that was aired in the evenings to give working parents a rest. They sat me in front of this TV show in 1989 without realising that said cartoon was The Simpsons, and that it was all but a kid’s show.

In any case, I grew very fond of Maggie as we were roughly the same age and both heavily dependent on a pacifier to get through the day. However, due to my tender age I wasn’t truly able to comprehend much and called the entire show ‘Bart Simpson’. This wouldn’t be so upsetting, but I also called every single character ‘Bart Simpson’. As I couldn’t operate the TV yet, I also said ‘Bart Simpson’ when I wanted the TV to be switched on.

So there I sat in my shopping trolley at the grocery store, and suddenly spotted a figurine of Bart Simpson, aka Maggie, and immediately wanted it. I remember my mother picking up the item, thus giving me false hope that I might miraculously get what I pointed at, which generally never happened.

She read the label and explained to me that it wasn’t a toy but shampoo. Excited at the thought of being able to take my new toy into the tub, I voiced the possibility of using it as a shampoo on the palm-tree shaped hairdo she had given me. She said that the shampoo would burn in my eyes and put it back.

I didn’t need an eye-burning shampoo to burst into tears. She had just ruined my chances of playing in the tub with Bart Simpson. 

Fast-forward many years, I find myself at a grocery store as an adult, being able to do all the things I couldn’t back then – walk around, reach things, carry things, pay for things and effectively communicate with other human beings.

I am the Queen of the grocery store, I can buy anything I like! Wheeling the trolley around, my eyes finally light up at the sight of a shampoo bottle with a sticker of good old Bart (Maggie) Simpson. Sure, it wasn’t as cool as the one I saw back then, but here was my opportunity to undo the injustice that was done to me. I reach for the bottle and inspect its content.

A mother walks past me with her two children climbing all over the trolley and sees me reading the label of Maggie’s shampoo.

Clearly, I am now old enough to be mistaken for a young mother in need of advice from more seasoned caretakers, because she approached me with the following:

“Excuse me, I just wanted to warn you – I bought this last week for my girls, and it really burned in their eyes! I use this other one all the time [points at a boring shampoo bottle], it’s great. Works on curly hair like yours, gorgeous! Hope I saved you some headache with the little ones!”

So then we stood there.

She looked at me, smiling, waiting.

Disappointment of a whole new level washed over me. Heartbroken, I forced the world’s most agonised smile, mumbled a pained ‘thank you’ and put Bart Simpson back into the shelf. 

I stared at my shopping basket on the ground, feeling powerless despite my adult position in society. Inconsolable, I walked out of the store, empty-handed.


Dearest Reader,

My parents spent so much time fighting about parenting, they entirely forgot about my spiritual wellbeing. Thus, while they are members of some pretty big religions, I was kind of left behind and not enrolled anywhere. I didn’t even get a ceremony of any kind, nor any gifts, blessings or anything that would prevent my certain demise in hell.

So it comes at no surprise that I’m a little behind when it comes to some very common rituals, such as the Catholic tradition of confessing. It was brought to my attention that it is mandatory to engage in said confession in preparation for one’s holy communion, which I understand occurs sometime in primary school. This is apparently the age of reason. Anyone who’s ever been in a room with a primary school child might doubt its ability to reason, but I digress.

As I was explained how confession works, and that it had to be done at such a tender age already, I asked what kinds of things a 7-year old might have to confess. Sins included shouting at one’s sister, lying about breaking mom’s vase, and picking one’s nose. Once I heard this, I wanted to suggest revisiting confessions at around 18, when there’d be much juicier sins, but again, I digress.

So there I was, thinking about what little 7-year old Zozan might have confessed. And I have to say, I came up with some rather disturbing things.

First and foremost, I would confess and apologise for all the self-inflicted paper cuts. This is not because I was in emotional distress and somehow at risk of self-harming, but rather because I discovered that paper cuts were a loop hole to get out of dish-washing duty. Anyone who knows me is aware of my deep hatred towards this activity, which goes back to the very point this chore was explained to me. My mother was adamant about me helping with the dishes from a time when I still needed a chair to reach the counter, but I realised that she let me off the hook if I had little cuts on my fingers because the dish soap would burn.

My mother later purchased rubber gloves and the only way to get out of washing the dishes was death itself.

Next, I would have to confess that I told everyone that my parents were Italian millionaires. In my defence, this is more a mathematical misunderstanding than a sin.

By the time I was 8, my family had already migrated from Germany to Italy and back again, and as the Euro had not been invented yet, 1 Deutsche Mark converted to 1000 Italian Lire.

My parents jokingly said “Well, at least in Italy we are millionaires!”, not realising that their child, who clearly was not at the age of reason, didn’t have the mathematical resources to understand this conversion joke. All my chicken brain was able to comprehend was that somehow, in Italy we are millionaires, and in Germany we were not. Hence, it was only natural that I bragged about my Italian millionaire parents.

The final sin I would have to mention to whomever had to listen to a primary school child’s confession was that I took food to the bathroom to test the existence of God. My mother, in her Turkish upbringing, told us that if we took food to the bathroom, God would throw stones at us and kill us. My older sister told me she tried this out and said nothing happened, but I assumed this was a trap to make me do it and get me killed. But I also figured, if I die, I’d die knowing there was a God.

Shakily, I took an apple to the bathroom. Nothing. I locked the door. Nothing. I sat down on the toilet. Nothing. I started eating the apple. Nothing. I waved the apple in the air and chewed really loudly, and operated the flush to give the illusion that I was actually peeing, but there was no sign of stones, or God for that matter.

I wish I could tell you all I did was break a vase, but I didn’t.

Instead, I was involved in deceit, money laundering and blasphemy.

And I’m sorry.