It is a daily occurrence for me to strap up the bags and pedal to the grocery store. It is only a mile and a half, one-way, and mostly downhill. I’ve found a weaving path through the neighborhood and though I do not speak to the households I pass, they call out sometimes to the “Coors Man” or the “Silver Bullet” so I’m sure they recognize me by my prize.
Once at the building that was once a JC Penney offering clothing like my last suit or lawnmower that I tried to latch on the back of the bike, but it was too heavy, so I hid it in the trees and went home and got a cart and walked back to drag it home an hour later, I lock up and observe the other participants in this adventure as I strip away my gloves and brain bucket before pulling out my recycle bag to get 5¢ discount for just bringing it.
The carts have gotten smaller and easier to handle, but I do not wipe them down with the available alcohol wipes for if I am going to die, it will probably be from one of the group who shop for food and stuffy here. Although I’ve been un-ill for several years by avoiding the general public (especially the little germ factories) I feel my immune system has learned to cope with the sneezing and coughing and other methods of spreading their plague.
So I pass the opening doors to the produce section, usually crowded with elderly women who barely made it passed the door to talk to each other as if they had not seen one-another from the parking lot or the adjacent condo building a few yards away.
Even thought people in blue shirts pushing carts over-stacked with boxes of fruit and veggies, constantly stacking and restocking carrots and tomatoes and celery and lots of other green things, I wonder of the freshness. The mist sprinklers do not reassure me that if I touch a green pepper, that I am guaranteed it is as good meaning tasty without poisoning me as I can get.
I may pick up some carrots or broccoli or cauliflower and dip, a few tomatoes and some leafy stuff in a bag, but I quickly move past the produce, only to stop to pick up a bag of unsalted peanuts for the critter crewe.
Passing by the bakery that does not interest me except for multi-grain slices used for sandwich, I move to the “deli” section.
Here people in hairnets offer sushi, sandwiches, crappy chicken but none of it is appealing. The latest box lunch section only offers badly cooked chicken, collard greens, and mac and cheese most unappetizing. Sneezing blue shirts in their preparation area and the elderly partaking of the sample bins for their lunch chases me away.
Weaving between the red headed flower witch and the mothers looking at the bloody animals, I roll down to the canned products.
There is a expiration date to each prepared and processed foods in cans, but I never check. As long as the can is not bent, I pick up the first line and thrown it in the cart. Red beans, black beans, chic peas all make the cart. I know they are full of sodium but I also never look at the nutrition breakdown. I know enough about ingredients that if I examined, I would never eat.
Next stop the fruit aisle. Another row of cans marked with produce I had already passed in the “fresh” section, but these are fruit prepared in some kind of sweet water or sauce and sealed. There must be some long gone theory in my brain that they will still be eatable. Perhaps it was all the can goods we stored in our utility room growing up. Perhaps it is the fact that buying fresh produce for one will mean that much of it will go bad before being thrown away.
Fruit is now used as dessert, since there is no sweet tooth for cookies or cakes or pies, though I splurge on my birthday for a cupcake and ice cream and during the winter will get some peanut butter cookies or an apple pie, but then the taste for that is gone and the desires ends.
The long row of cereals offering sugar and cartoon characters in half filled boxes also requires buying milk which is just too much trouble and space in the little refrigerator. Dried oatmeal will last through the winter and fade in the heat of the summer.
Coffee, creamer, green tea, and fake sugar are staples but few spices make the cart. The blue shirt stacker wearing a huge cross and saying “Bless You” between singing hymns continues to smile.
Noodles, potatoes, and other starches are of little interest until it is cold outside and a bowl of stew or chili will end the winter chill, but in the summer the act of cooking does little to interest the effort.
Pass the chips aisle and the cookie aisle and the personal hygiene aisle (I’m still trying to get rid of animal shampoo from two years ago) has no interest to me. Besides I don’t need diapers yet.
Eggs will probably be on the menu soon, but that requires I buy butter and break out the skillet.
I look at the aisle of frozen pizza in amazement that there is that many varieties. I did burn a lot of these during the summer due to the ease of baking them, but with little taste or satisfaction. The white hair blue shirt wearing winter clothes sings along with the 60’s music coming from the ceiling while opening the frosted doors and restocking the TV dinners.
Weaving through the rows of shelves with products trying to entice the shopper to place it in their cart by their placement and fancy packaging, I wander aimlessly trying to find something that will spark my taste buds. I look at boxes and bags while applying the aroma and flavor on my tongue trying to awake an interest.
The act of preparing food has been learned through many different techniques and appliances, but it is “the taste” that makes the effort worthwhile.
And as the palate becomes bland having experienced grand efforts by chefs of many destinations, a sandwich with processed meat slathered in mustard, pepper and hot sauce, perhaps a slice of Swiss cheese and an occasional tomato fills the daily meal requirement.
Exotic dishes with techniques and special tools have been used and appreciated in the past, but in the end, the basics of meat, fruit, vegetables, and bread are the ingredients of the mixtures.
So through the maze of products waiting for something to stand out, excite, grab hold of the daily meal; yet it all looks the same and unexciting with very little interest to pick up and carry home.
Some people plan a weekly family menu and shop for the ingredients to prepare and present to their loved ones, but when you are the only participant in the eating process, the adventure is less fulfilling.
As I load up my bags and strap on my gear, I seem to attract the weird Wild Eyed Willie, Crazy Eddie, or Leroy the bagger who is the best slacker I’ve ever seen.
Of course, I could go to a building that prepares food in Styrofoam containers or wrapped in plastic by young dull people wearing paper hats, but I also find that unsatisfying.
Today’s venture brought home crappy over-fried dried chicken prepared in the suspiciously hygiene deli area that I could drown in hot sauce and pepper washing it down with frothing beers. They were placed in the recycle 5¢ bag with a brief conversation with the blue shirt checker about the weather, or smiles or nothing at all due to lack of personality. For dinner, only because it was time and not hunger, a sandwich and a half of micro waved reheated BBQ out of a plastic container with little flavor even under a blanket of sauce followed by a tomato on a pile of Cole slaw.
The shelf that holds all the food available in the kitchen has one can of dark red kidney beans, an almost finished jar of peanut butter, two slices of bread and enough instant coffee and powered creamer to get me thought the week. The little refrigerator is empty.
Tomorrow’s big decision will be: “What Will I Prepare and Consume To Stay Alive?”