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.