Usually when someone is described as physical, aggressive, and super competitive, one thinks of a husky manly man doing his manly man thing and plowing into a brick wall with all muscle and no helmet just because his guy friends said he couldn’t and bet a beer against him.
That manly man has probably never gone grocery shopping during the holiday season. And for that I call him out as a complete, total pansy.
We’ve all seen the madness on the news about Black Friday mornings and Early Bird Sales, with videos of lines of people circling around a Best Buy at 3 in the morning or being trampled at a Target to buy items on sale. But do we ever think of the grocery stores?
Well we should. One evening last week I go out to our local grocery market holding my nifty little shopping list with ingredients for baked awesomeness. I figure I’ll go in, grab a few bags of walnuts and lemons, drift by the eggs and pick up a few sticks of butter. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right?
Lo and behold, I walk through the hair dryer-esque entrance, while nimbly avoiding eye contact with the Salvation Army guy (they always stare at you in the back of the head with kind, gentle, piercing eyes, with that bell constantly ringing in your ear saying “greedy little consumer~ greedy little consumer~ give back to the poor you selfish whelp”). Oh the guilt. It aches. But I haven’t carried cash since the last recession; not about to change that to appease the clamoring bell of holiday giving.
Back to the grocery market. All seems quiet. It seems like a nice place, albeit a bit crowded. Tis the holiday season, and I stand tall with amiable feelings. It’s obvious from the get go that maneuvering a cart will be difficult, so I grab a shopping basket instead and walk towards the produce section for some nice lemons. Suddenly I see a woman halfway across the produce section eyeing me and make a beeline for the lemons, rushing towards them in a speedwalk and placing herself and her cart squarely in front of the pile of citrus. Really?
I shake it off. Ok, so maybe she just really, really wanted lemons and just noticed that perfect one just sitting there. Whatever, it’s cool. I hardly even raise my single eyebrow of disbelief and just get the ones on the side. Look back at the list. Ah, brown sugar. Great, I can do brown sugar. Let’s just waltz on over to the-
Oh, sorry, bumped into you. Oh, you too, that was odd. Hey, what the hell, you definitely just pushed me. What what? Quit looking into my basket, woman, get your own damn lemons, they’re right next to the oranges and the She-Hulk.
Finally, brown sugar. I find the kind I want and begin to reach out to get one, when suddenly a small hand bursts in from my right and snatches the bag I was reaching for within a blink. Ninja much? My eyebrows of disbelief are both apparent now and I glance over to my right to see a tiny woman stare me down like a 200 pound gladiator. O…k… maybe she forgot her medication and only brown sugar will calm her down. Someone that small has got to have some sort of ailment, right? Yeah, fine, it’s cool. We are. Totally. Cool.
I admit, it’s getting a little tense now. Every woman passing me by in the lanes feels like they’re emanating rays of doom, and my faint holiday cheery smile is being replaced by a set jaw of determination. Sure, there are men here and there, but they mostly seem to fade into the background and move with their backs against the walls. I begin to notice that the slim hands gripping the shopping carts are clenched until the knuckles are white, and all the elbows sticking out remind me of when my dog takes his alpha male stance and growls at the neighbor’s mutt. Elbows out, shoulders squared, body tense, hair on the back of the neck sticking straight up. Yup. Just bumped into another one.
Even getting a stick of butter felt like I was fighting for my life, with women half my size suddenly bulldozing me away and reaching for the same brand (I made the mistake of reaching for the sale item). My eyebrows of disbelief are now situated above wide eyes of utter shock. What are these women eating that make them so strong??
Needless to say the rest of my trip to the grocery store was much less jolly than I had hoped, and the fact that I eventually got out with the necessary ingredients plus all my limbs intact was a small Christmas miracle of its own. Suddenly the Salvation Army guy seems like a huggable teddy bear compared to the silent furies lurking within, and I stumble my way to my car for a nice long breather.
Traffic never felt so peaceful.