I sometimes feel as though I have a second home at the grocery store — usually the Kroger at Bancroft Street and North Holland Sylvania Road. It’s large enough to have a multitude of items beyond just the basics; but it isn’t so gargantuan that you can buy deck furniture and diamond rings while also picking up milk and macaroni.
Admittedly, grocery shopping can be a chore. That’s why services such as Shipt, which lets you shop online and get your items delivered, are such a hit. Online ordering for pick-up at the store also seems popular. And meal kits, which drop boxes full of recipes and prepped ingredients right to your door, are all the rage.
But I like to pick out my own items, so I don’t mind going to the store myself every week (or more).
I also tend to be easily amused — let’s politely call it a strong sense of whimsy, shall we? So I often find myself entertained even while schlepping around trying to keep track of both my own list and The Blade’s.
I post pictures on social media of things like silly little inflatable drink caddies that let your glass of iced tea float in the pool next to you, or of candy corn and pumpkin spice cookies already prominently placed on the shelves in August when it’s 100 degrees out.
It’s especially fun to look for Manager’s Specials, which is akin to a treasure hunt. These discounted items can range from frozen pies to a new flavor of coffee creamer to try, pork chops to wine, and stuffed mushrooms to the peanut butter Snickers bars I found recently. You can almost always find boxes of matzah too; every year, I smirk as I see them for months and months after Passover. (Not that anyone would really be able to tell the difference between the fresh and the stale ones, truth be told.)
I consider the Manager’s Specials to be my own personal Chopped baskets: Here are your mystery ingredients, what can you make with them? This drives my dinner decisions.
One of my greatest amusements at the store, though, is the music. I hear everything from the Ramones (and I can’t help but think that the group’s late lead singer, pop music fan Joey, would be as tickled by that as I am) to America’s loathsome “Horse with No Name,” which isn’t improved at all by the ambiance of the cereal aisle.
While loading groceries onto the checkout belt a few weeks ago, I thought I heard the opening notes of “Kung Fu Fighting.” I excitedly asked the cashier, Dennis, if he could hear it; he couldn’t quite tell, at first — either about the song or, I suspect, my sanity. Because who else would be giddy to hear something so ridiculous? But that cheesy old chestnut definitely brightened my day. You can’t help but sing along, and you can’t get it out of your mind, either, once you think of it. (Sorry, but not really, ‘bout that.)
While meandering through the produce section a few weeks ago, I hummed along to “Pure” by the Lightning Seeds, a one-hit wonder from the ‘80s. I might be the only other person besides my friend Kelly Zielinski, a music trivia wunderkind, and any surviving band members who remembers it.
The Clash sang, “I'm all lost in the supermarket/I can no longer shop happily.” (And let’s ask the obvious question: Why hasn’t that one been played yet?)
But I’m having fun there. It’s not quite as outrageous as Guy’s Grocery Games, but I can definitely keep Mondays from becoming mundane.
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