The Grocery Store Wars

Hey, Steve. Visualize the pantry. ;)
Hey, Steve. Visualize the pantry. 😉

As the stay-at-home parent, I am the primary grocery shopper in our household. The record will show that I am at Super Target (and/or Safeway) no less than three times each week. The first time I go, usually on Monday morning after I drop the boys at school, I do our shopping for the week. Or, at least that is what I am planning to accomplish. What usually happens, though, is that as soon as I arrive home I realize (often with an audible dammit!) I’ve forgotten something I needed. So, my second grocery shopping trip often occurs on Tuesday, when I revisit the aforementioned store to pick up the items I missed the first time around. The third trip to the store occurs around Thursday, or sometimes as early as Wednesday, because my children have pointed out that they’re out of Goldfish crackers or yogurt or some other thing they neglected to mention we were out of but must have all the same. The clerks at Super Target see me coming with my cloth bags and can probably rattle off what I have in my cart before I even start unloading it. Yes. Sadly, I am that predictable.

Every once in a while, to avoid the embarrassment of showing up at my regular Super Target for a fourth time in as many days, I will ask my husband to grab something from the store on his way home. It’s one of those things I try not to do, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Now, you might think I don’t ask my husband to shop because I feel it’s my job or because I hate troubling him after a long day at work. That is not, however, the case. I hate asking my husband to stop at the store because it’s inevitable that when he does he will come home with not exactly what I asked for. In addition, he will have purchased several items that were not on the list at all. I will never understand how he can live in the same house with the kids and I but have no idea what our regular family items are. He will purchase more or less what I want but not exactly. I’m not sure about you, but my kids are fussy about brands so it makes me insane when hubby goes rogue in the grocery store. We’re supposed to be a team. The reason we’re still married after 17 years is that I have come to expect this. Therefore, I try to avoid sending him to the store. It’s a matter of marriage preservation.

For a long time, I thought this was a quirk of our marriage. Then, tonight, a dear friend told me about her husband’s trip to the grocery store. She had asked him to pick up jam. He was apparently confused by her use of the word jam so he sent her a text to clarify. This cracked me up. Steve would have done the same thing. He would have messaged me from the store to ask if I meant jam like in a glass jar or did I really mean jelly like in the Smucker’s squeeze bottle we get for the boys’ peanut butter sandwiches. This would have annoyed the living crap out of me because I would feel he was pestering me because I wasn’t explicit enough. In actuality, he’s be pestering me because he had no clue what I meant and he didn’t want to get in trouble by coming home with the wrong thing. Still…I’d be frustrated because, seriously, doesn’t he live in this house and know what type of jam/jelly we use? What is wrong with him? How can the clerks at Super Target know what I buy while my husband has not a clue?

I told my friend that I get perplexed when my husband consistently returns from the grocery store with some completely bizarre brand I’ve never even seen before, one I’m certain our children will not eat. (You see, I know that my kids will not eat off-brand Goldfish crackers. They’re food ninjas. They know when you try to pull a fast one on them. I don’t waste our money on anything but Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. Buy imposter Goldfish crackers once, shame on me. Buy imposter Goldfish twice? Well…I’m just not that stupid.) Steve’s blatant disregard for my brand loyalty and specific shopping instructions has led me to only one conclusion. He buys what he wants at the store simply to assert his decision-making power within our family unit. Years of feeling henpecked about his shopping choices have led him to a subversive tactic for retribution. Bad grocery shopping has become his silent rebellion, his non-violent protest against oppression. He thinks he’s Gandhi. I simply wish he’d be Gandhi-esque about something else. Maybe he could non-violently protest the unlawful gathering of shoes on his side of the bed?