Six Square Feet of Granola Bars

shopping in aisle with cart

I’ve outgrown the majority of my childhood fears. I no longer tremble at snakes or spiders. Living in rural New England, I know what to do if I ever see a bear (though I’ve never actually seen one.) Those million-legged creepy crawlies that come out of the drain — well, they’ll never be a favorite, but I can grab a mini-vac and dispatch them without hysteria.

As a mom, I have been pushed, bodily, to the outside of squeamishness. When my children were very young, I spent entire winters as a human tissue. I’ve cleaned projectile vomit from the roof of the car. I’ve seen bloody noses that looked like modern art. By now, either my nerves are deadened or I’m just too tired to sustain the level of panic that qualifies as “freaking out.”

I’m not, however, unflappable.

Give me a daddy longlegs anyday, but please, oh please, don’t make me go shopping.

My husband usually does the errands. He writes the lists, grabs the reusable bags and heads off down the aisles. Once in awhile, through amnesia or a misdirected sense of adventure, I volunteer to take his place. After about fifteen minutes in a discount superstore, I’m ready to cry mercy.

Today’s list included “Apple Crisp Granola Bars.” My new nemesis. My downfall. First, I had to find the aisle. I consoled myself with the truism that no one ever got lost in a superstore. Not really lost. But, I wasn’t having any luck. Don’t they make a GPS for this sort of thing? Just as my left eye began to twitch, I found the right aisle. Hooray!

Buoyed by that small success, I checked out the shelves. I squared my shoulders. I only needed one small box, one simple request from my daughter. Apple Crisp. Perfect for autumn.

The trouble is, there is simply no human defense against six square feet of granola bars. There were salty ones. And sweet ones. And salty-sweets. There were chocolate coated bars, and chocolate drizzled, and chocolate layered. There were bars with peanut butter or almonds or both. Fruit or nuts or nutty fruits. Yogurt topped or yogurt filled. It was Granola-Palooza. It was Granola-Gate. I swear they must breed in the night, under a soft florescent glow. And there was no Apple Crisp.

Granola bars, six square feet of them, had me whipped. I came very close to humiliating myself with large crocodile tears in the snack aisle of a superstore.

And, please, don’t even mention the cereal aisle. It’s a menace.

The fact is, I no longer worry about the little bits of life that creep and crawl. I worry more about the chunks that stop and stall — the chores that suck up time quicker than my Dyson can clean a salt spill. I just can’t spend more than 30 seconds picking out granola bars. I would rather read to my kids, or write, or walk the dog, or sip a cup of coffee. The scariest shards of life are the ones that take my days away.

We live in a world that prides itself on an abundance of choice. We are schooled to embrace long aisles of indecision. Never mind the drain on our time, our wallets, our sanity. How could there be too much choice? How could there be too many granola bars?

Well, I’m not buying it.

We can have too much, though it seems almost a sin, these days, to admit it. Even in a recession, with pennies stretched five different ways, the message is to spend ourselves out of trouble. But I don’t need more granola bars or cereal. I don’t need a new car or a larger television or the latest fashion boot. I need more minutes, more hours, more days.

I’m done with shopping for awhile — until the next bout of amnesia hits. I’m handing the Chico bags to my superhero husband. He has laser-beam eyes that can spot organic avacados from three aisles down and around a corner. It’s true.

As for me, I’ll be here, tapping out stories — or reading a novel, or playing Uno with my girls. Having enough. Just right.

(Unless we’re talking coffee or chocolate. That’s a different ballgame.)

Do you get overwhelmed in superstores? Has the cracker aisle ever made you cry? And, if not, what’s your secret? Do tell.

10 thoughts on “Six Square Feet of Granola Bars

  1. What about the bread choices? In Namibia, I had 2 choices: white or brown. One student asked me about food in America only 4 months into living there. I gave him a laundry list of just the bread choices!

    Now I just make my own…

    • Lori,
      Yes, I’ve been done in by bread as well. It’s wonderful to hear about your experiences and to get your perspective. Thanks for the comment and the insights.

  2. Lisa,
    Oh, I thought I was the only one who was completely overwhelmed by the over-abundance of choice. I rarely shop for pleasure; browsing is not something that I do well. If I do shop, it is only with a list. Otherwise, I am completely undone by all the stuff that assaults my senses.

    • Brenda,
      I know exactly what you mean — too much input! I try to shop on-line whenever I can. The grocery store is not my happy place. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. Sorry it’s not your favorite place, but I actually love grocery shopping! However, I hate almost every other kind of shopping so I can relate. Also I do NOT enjoy the too many choices or when the grocery store is super crowded. Still, I do love it! Not only that, but my husband and I have always gone together and once our kids got old enough, we’d often go in the evenings for “grocery store dates.” Sorry I can’t live nearby you and help out by picking things up for you on my fun outings to the store!

    • Perfect solution! You could grocery shop for me. Another reason to move to Maine 🙂

      I actually do love grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s small enough — and they have great food — so I can get everything done fairly quickly. The closest TJs is 40 minutes away though. But, it’s often worth it. And they also have beautiful fresh flowers, a great treat, especially in the heart of winter.

  4. I cried at Costco during the Christmas season last year. I was so overwhelmed by the crowd and pressed for time. Then when I saw the line at the checkout–that’s when the tears came.

    I can’t believe you found a man who makes the list and does the shopping. It’s unbelievable. Seriously.

    • Nina,
      The crowds and the rush definitely make it worse — and then the lines. Ugh!
      My husband is a shopping super hero (and an amazing cook too, another area where I stumble!). I count my many blessings. 🙂
      Speaking of blessings, I’m sending hugs for little Nathan and for you — congratulations!
      ~ lisa

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