Monday, October 10, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Safeways

Our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country — but only for those with true grit. And we were choc full of that.

We were also choc full of flour and apples and eggs and mustard and onions and rice and ketchup and yogurt. We were piled high with honey and spaghetti and raw meats — ground beef and a disassembled chicken sealed in an unholy envelope of polystyrene and plastic wrap. There were lemons and lettuce and beans of all kinds and cans of tuna and great big vats of milk. There was something called “Cremette” my attorney threw in there at the very beginning for good measure. There was margarine and sauerkraut and cottage cheese and chow mein.

I had pleaded with him not to rip open a 10lb sack of flour right in the aisle because he was under the impression they were selling cocaine in the supermarkets now, a thought that delighted him so much he couldn’t wait to strip off this clothes and roll about in it, but the cashier glared at us and we thought we could see the handle of a gun poking out of her waistband so we struggled to haul it into the cart. Those damn things have wheels. Every time we thought we had it in the trolley it rolled away, so we ended up lumbering the entire length of the aisle until we managed to pin the cart against a stack of cans of cooking oil. We threw in two bags of “Whole Wheat” too just in case it was the real thing — you never know.

I was nervous about the cashier’s gun and suggested we just make a dash for it through the electronic doors into the parking lot but my attorney reminded me that this would constitute stealing, and the only things worth stealing were cars and guns, so we approached her with caution. The fluorescent lights were beginning to mess with my brain and I started sweating profusely. We had no money — how were we going to pay for all these groceries? It seemed inconceivable that women all over the country did this on a weekly basis. No wonder they were all stuffing valium down their gullets by the truckload.

“No sudden movements,” I said, “and stop swatting at those flying lizards. She’ll begin to get suspicious and call the cops.”

By the time we made it to the register we’d lost our appetite. The munchies had worn off and we were left with enough food to feed a small child of three for eleven years. There was nothing for it but to walk away. Very slowly at first.

Then we ran. 

 Budget Saving Meals Cookbook, Ideals Publishing Corp, 1980

Also from this book: Purple Haze, Nutty As A Fruitcake

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