The Art of Shopping

One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life is learn how to shop. Sounds simple enough. Just go to the store and get what you need. Were I alone it would be that simple, though I might never see any other part of the grocery store than the deodorant and paper product aisle. However, I am not alone. I have a son. He would probably be just as happy going to “Mickey D’s” every day, but I know that is not good for him. So I must shop.
If you think I am the only one who has this problem try this fun and exciting exercise. Go to the store and just watch the men. It won’t take long before you spot them, the ones I am talking about. They stand in the aisles, carts blocking the shelves. There is a puzzled look on their face as they stare at two bottles of red liquid. What exactly is the difference between “Catsup” and “Ketchup” anyway? After a silent game of “enie-meany-miney-moe, they put one bottle in their cart. The other goes back on the shelf next to the mustard and they head off the wrong way down the cereal aisle. At least once they run their cart into a display of some sort. The experienced shoppers huff past them wondering who let them out of the house in the first place.
Some of the men even come prepared. They bring “The List.” Clutched tightly in their hands they look at the list, then gaze blankly up at the signs over the aisles. They look back to the list, then to the sign all the while blocking the path of shoppers who know what they are doing. They look back at the list one more time and then meekly ask the woman passing by, “Is mayonnaise a condiment or salad dressing?” What would take an experienced shopper an hour takes them two, with plans for a return trip when the crowd thins out.
My son is now ten and I have been shopping for the two of us for almost nine years. I think I am getting the hang of it. I am still not sure which is the better deal, one 24oz can of stewed tomatoes at $3.99 or two 12oz cans at $1.99 each, so I take the one can because it is less to carry into the house. My son and I have formed a team as well. He takes the outside aisles, getting the milk and butter, while I take the inside aisles and make the tough decisions like do we get confectioners sugar or pure granulated.
Now, whenever I can, I pass on the lessons that my mother never taught me. “If chicken is on sale for fifty-nine cents a pound, buy extra and freeze it.” “The only difference between ‘Heinz’ and ‘Hunts’ is the price.” These are things that would have helped me tremendously. So when my son asked me why he had to learn how to shop, I pointed to the man with the list and the blank stare and said, “So you don’t end up like him.”
Oh, and by the way, is a banana a fruit or a vegetable?


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