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.

Grocery Store Sitcom

Dearest Reader,

One of the many chores of adulthood is going grocery shopping, and I personally find it one of the most irritating ones.

Firstly, if you are a full-time worker, you know the crowds of people, their children and their grandmothers you have to fight at 5pm or on weekends to get to that last raspberry yoghurt.

Then of course, there’s the schlepping – carrying kilos of stuff home, which is especially fun when you don’t have a car.

And worst of all, YOU have to pay for this unpleasant experience.

But I am here to tell you that you can turn your grocery shopping into your own personal sitcom. All you have to do is open your eyes and use a little creativity.

Here’s how you do it: Next you find yourself waiting at the checkout, losing your patience and thinking about all the hours of your life you have wasted waiting in queues, take a moment to check out the baskets of the people in front of you.

What do you see? What story do these items tell?

Here are potential examples:

A female buying a huge tub of ice cream, other junk food and tissues – I smell drama, teary break-ups, red hot lovers and a kind of Ross/Rachel thing going on!

A male buying a kitchen knife, hershey’s kisses and mango body butter – Here’s a guy who really wants to take a bubble bath, smell of mangoes and indulge in a chocolate feast, but tries to overcompensate for the lack of masculinity implied by this activity by purchasing a big scary knife. I imagine a Scrubs/J.D. kind of situation here

An older lady buying cat food, cookies and beer – oh don’t you try to fool me nana, we all know you’re buying booze for the neighbour’s teens because you live next to the Inbetweeners!

Now sometimes, all you can see is some carrots and some soba noodles and none of it lends itself to a good story. So, be proactive!

There are some items that you should always pair with something awkward to have a bit of fun and freaking out the people around you, especially the check-out assistant.

One such item, without a doubt, are condoms.

You cannot waste this opportunity for comedy; for example, watch the puzzled faces as you put condoms on the counter along with some rubber gloves, shaving cream and a big pumpkin. Or wear a nun-costume while you buy them. Let them create a story in their heads, and marvel in their awkward, blushing faces.

Or female hygiene products. Why not add a plunger and some soy milk, just for fun?

So, dearest reader, there is no excuse to be bored at the grocery store – if you are committed to getting the biggest bang for your buck, and not just boredom and impatience, you can have the time of your life!