Shopping Season

30 12 2009

I wondered what day it was when I had to park my car in Antarctica and walk to the local  grocery store. It was 11am on Tuesday. But the traffic suggested that maybe it was Saturday, and I was just confused. Christmas was over. The herd of shoppers had promised to return to their houses heaping with previous purchases and back to their desk jobs at their cluttered cubicles. But it seemed we were experiencing an extended holiday season. Thank you, corporate America.

 Whining children were pushed in carts by their unconcerned mothers. Children that should have been pushed in carts, zigzagged incoherently in the aisle. Families shopped together in packs, stalking and hunting their next big purchase. This was what I had hoped to avoid by doing my Christmas shopping on-line.

 I rationalized that the screaming children were still on Holiday break, and their parents couldn’t leave them home alone. Someone should tell them that a little bit of Benadryl and a ball gag goes a long way.  And everyone knows that duct tape is multipurpose.

 It wasn’t just the families with children either. Everyone was out. The senior shoppers walked painfully past the 50% Christmas decorations, debating on whether or not that $1 item was really worth that much. Everywhere I turned there was one standing in front of me–limping with a cane or driving a large Amigo. And then they would suddenly stop and block the aisle.

 I wasn’t there to bargain shop. I had a list. I needed onions and milk and bread. I had a legitimate reason to be there. I worked Christmas, and it was my day off. I wasn’t on some extended Holiday. So get the fuck out of my way!

 Apparently, this week was supposed to be a big Christmas shopping week. I didn’t get that memo.  I suppose everyone had to spend their gift cards right away and scoop up all the cheap deals. Like they don’t have enough shit. I know I have enough shit. This is what turns people into Hoarders. These super bargains and advertisements touting how much we need something and how much we’ll save—when really we would save more by never buying it in the first place.

 I prefer to shop between 11pm-7am. No screaming children. Empty parking lots. When I turn down an aisle, I don’t have to navigate around anyone except for the stockers. And they’re harmless—not like shoppers. Shoppers have poisonous fangs. They emit gases that make the aisles spin and your chest grow tight. And if they touch you—even brush past you, you could die instantaneously. If I look down any aisle and see that I won’t be able to keep a safe passing distance between me and one of those shoppers, I go to the next aisle.

It’s not that I don’t like shopping. I enjoy going down each aisle at the grocery store in consecutive order. I like to read the labels and touch new items. When I’m looking at non-food items, I’m attracted to silver, glass and bright shiny things. But other shoppers and their offspring make it a haven of death. I don’t like to feel that I’m being rushed. I don’t like someone standing too close or someone hovering behind me, waiting to get their leach hands on the item I just touched.

Or what about those shoppers who stand right in front of my brand of milk—1% Organic. Why couldn’t they be standing in front of the Lactaid milk or the eggs? It’s like they are doing it on purpose–to break me. So they can crack my skull open and eat my brains.

And those self-check out lanes. I’m okay with them unless someone is standing impatiently behind me. They sigh loudly, shift their weight several times and fidget. That makes me nervous, and then I can’t concentrate. Those are the same shoppers that start to scan their own groceries and send them down the belt before I have even started bagging mine. So I start throwing things into bags. When I get home, I discover smashed bread and injured tomatoes.

Shoppers are dangerous, so I lay low. I buy my things at night and make purchases on the internet. When I do go to the store, I wear camouflage and spray around the perimeter of my car with shopper’s urine. Because you can’t reason with a cannibal.  They’re savages.


Thanksgiving with the Tobbies

29 11 2009

I was in the middle of rolling a pork roulade when the phone rang. The caller I.D. flashed Robbie Tobbie. That’s my mom’s boyfriend. I had raw meat hands. I let it ring. I didn’t want to talk to him anyway. I should have never started being nice to him. Now he thinks we’re friends and gives me junk that he picks up at garage sales. 

Whenever I try to visit with Mom, it’s always the same thing. Robbie Tobbie shows up drunk, and continues to drink cheap beer between shots of Jack. Every five minutes he is woohooing! High fiving. Shaking hands.  Until he gets paranoid that we are conspiring against him. Then he goes to the garage to start up his the Nova that he’s had since he was 16. Revs the engine. He’s never actually had it on the road. Then he pulls the quad out and drives it around the loop of the driveway.

I placed the roulade in the fridge and washed my hands. He didn’t leave a message. I called mom.

“So why is Robbie Tobbie calling me?”

“Oh must be he’s mad because you won’t let him bring his dog.”

I had respectfully asked him not bring his dog. His puppy that growls and chews on table legs and has no shots.    

“Says if his dog’s not welcome, he’s not coming.”

Last Thanksgiving I sat at home and played video games, because Robbie Tobbie got mad and wouldn’t bring mom down. Mom has issues. She won’t drive outside the city that she was born in. It was one of my best Thanksgivings.

 “Do you need me to pick you up?”

“Well, I don’t know.”

I had pumpkin rolls in the freezer ready to thaw. Cranberry onion stuffing. Sautéed squash for the risotto.

“So you’re not coming?”

 The whole point of having Thanksgiving at my house was so that I didn’t have to drive two hours there and two hours back. I had to work the next day. Nobody else had to work. Both Mom and Robbie had been unemployed for over 2 years.  We had made these plans a month in advance. I bought all the ingredients and had almost finished prepping the entire feast. All they had to do was show up. But Mom couldn’t even do that.

 “I don’t know Duesie. I’ll call you back at 7”

Of course she didn’t call. When I called her, she didn’t pick up. She probably rushed over to Robbie Tobbie’s house to tell him I was mad.

 When I’m Up North, she pretends that they are not together. According to her she kicked him out months ago. Then she says that he won’t show up and acts surprised when he does. His picture still hangs on the wall in the living room.

After Robbie’s done riding the quad around the drive way, he passes out in her bed. But they’re not together. She’s mad that he owes her 2 years worth of rent. He just spent $6000 of is 401K on a gutted Nova. His unemployment runs out this month. No one’s going to hire him with his beer gut and missing teeth—not that he would ever pass as piss test.

Maybe she keeps him around as a chauffeur or to bring in firewood. She thinks she can control him, but she can’t. Robbie Tobbie does what he wants.

She called me back at 8:30.

“I don’t know, Duesie.”

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll bring dinner, but this is the last time.”

I carted a cooler full of Thanksgiving food 2 hours North.  Mom apologized the entire dinner. Robbie Tobbie ate in silence and plopped himself on the couch afterwards. No compliments. No thank you.

“I would have come down on Wednesday no problem if everyone had their shit together,” Robbie said from his spot on the couch.

I can tell by his tone that we’re not friends anymore. And that’s just fine.

“I’m glad I didn’t inconvenience anyone,” I said.

I imagined next Thanksgiving like a scene from Fried Green Tomatoes–Robbie Tobbie mysteriously absent while we munch on the best BBQ ever.

I wheeled my empty cooler to the car.

“Aren’t you staying, Duesie?” Mom asked

“I have to work in the morning, remember?”

“I could come back down with you.”

Maybe I would be the only one eating BBQ next Thanksgiving.

Turkey Day, An American Tradition

27 11 2009

Stuff a large bird with bread and bake it. Make gravy from the bird’s organs, but call them giblets, because that sounds more lighthearted. Make enough gravy to fill a cruise ship. Serve the bird with massive side dishes of mashed potatoes, corn, and green bean casserole. Don’t forget the warm rolls slathered in non-hydrogenated margarine, because butter is unhealthy.

Eat until it hurts. There’s not enough room for salad, but you think you can squeeze in another spoonful of casserole. Sit on the couch with the remote control and flip through the channels. Surf the internet during commercials. While the TV is blaring in the background, find something more interesting to watch on Hulu. Watch The Biggest Loser and be thankful that you’re not 400 pounds yet. Belch. Fart. You discover that there’s room for dessert. There’s a starving Ethiopian living in your left leg. 

Take notes on Black Friday deals. You might not even have to leave your chair this year. This delights you.  Pull up another window on your screen. You watch a YouTube video about the 33 year old man who died in his recliner because he was morbidly obese. You’re thankful that you can get out of the chair with the greatest of ease. You unbutton your pants to let the turkey breathe in your belly.

This year you’re hoping to skip the smack down in the toy aisle over Twilight Dolls and Zhuzhu pets. Last year you camped out in the parking lot in a long line. Once you got into the store, some large black woman lost her wig to a white bitch.  There was hair pulling and blood.

 It’s important. You will be sacrificing your comfort to obtain family and friends  items that they need to have by December 25. So you can exchange gifts between mouthfuls of ham and chocolate truffles. Aunt Doris would have died without The Clapper last year. And the Chia Pet that she gave you—well, you thanked her profusely and discreetly placed it on the Goodwill pile when you got home.