Thursday, May 24, 2007

When I go to the grocery store

The women and men who bag my groceries often wish to have confessional conversations about their eating habits. Today, a young woman was talking about sugar. "There's sugar in everything, you can't avoid it," she said. I smiled at her, already feeling like a total snothead for buying so many vegetables. "I drink coke every day. I was raised on it. I can't just stop drinking it." I was not raised on coke or soda. When I lived overseas, I'd drink Sprite sometimes if the water wasn't always good and I was too young to have alcohol. Or in southeast Asia I'd drink 100+, which was really good--a kind of carbonated Gatorade, but with less sugar and a lot more bland. It probably would be really good for me when I'm sick to my stomach. I felt like I should say something so I said, "Well, everyone will eat and drink the things that they like." She wasn't satisfied. It was a pretty lame comment. I could have said, "Soda is gross" or "have you tried diet soda" (I know little about how diet soda tastes) or "Soda is bad for you, stop drinking it and instead buy beets and fennel like me." I couldn't think of anything to say that wasn't scolding or moralistic, but that is what she seemed to want.

Usually Mark and I go grocery shopping together. Sometimes, however, I go pick up a few items at the local Albertsons. There, it's not the people bagging the groceries but the older folks in line with me that want to confess. Usually they are buying a lot of frozen dinners. Because they live alone. Once, the woman behind me was buying a lot of frozen lasagna for one, and I was buying things to make a turkey spinach lasagna. The woman said, "I can cook lasagna. I love lasagna. With turkey. And spinach." For a moment I got all movie sentimental and thought I should invite her to dinner. But the older women who speak to me are often hostile and crazy. She didn't seem hostile, just defensive.

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