It must be late August.
I went to the grocery store today—gloriously without children, allowing me to people-watch instead of children-watch. And I know it must be late August because we live in a college town and the students are back.
Some of them were shopping with their moms. I wish I could recreate the perfect worried-mom accent for you, but since I can’t, you’ll have to read this out loud with a slightly nasally, overly anxious tone to get the full effect.
“Oh, honey. We should get you some Ziploc bags. Which size do you think you’ll need? No, I really think they’ll come in handy. Gallon? Or sandwich…. no, sweetie, nobody uses quart bags; let’s go with gallon.”
Some were new roommates shopping together. I can spot them a mile away; they seem sort of disgusted by each other, but shy about it, and can’t agree on anything, so they politely argue. My college roommate and I barely hid our disdain for each other (and by barely, I mean that her friends used to literally SIT ON ME when they came over in the middle of the night), so we really didn’t shop together. Like, ever. Had we had to live together a second year, I’m sure we would have just had assigned times we could be in the dorm room. The only thing we ever did together was leave a container of yogurt out for an entire semester and occasionally joked that it was a science project. (Really, it was just lazy. Or stubborn. I guess I don’t remember whose yogurt it was… which means it was probably mine. I’m gross, y’all.)
I love watching new roommates together because it reminds me of Kullervo and I when we first got married. Our first grocery trip was a disaster. Butter or margarine? The wrong answer could lead to an annulment. He actually thought full fat mayo was better. Hello???? I won that battle. Later on, Friends would back me up on my decision. “You know what? It tastes the same and my pants fit better!”
I’m pretty sure that Kullervo and I both left the grocery store wondering if we’d rushed into this marriage thing (we did), and if we were going to make it (we have).
I stood in the grocery store today watching these people and wondering if they were going to grow into being the kinds of friends who finish each other’s sentences… or if their sole good memory would be a smelly standoff that grossed their actual friends out more than it did the other.
When I was in the produce section, I ran into the old-friends roommates. These are people who have made peace with their butter-lovin’ friend, who have accepted that the other actually thinks Pepsi is better, and so they spend their time at the grocery store throwing food samples at each other. Because, college. I only got hit with one piece of cantaloupe, so I considered my artful dodging my workout for the day. There was also the pair who were bickering in the snacks aisle. Megan has been on a juice cleanse for three weeks (!!!), and Jenny was loading up her cart with Fudge Stripe cookies because they were her friend’s favorites. They told me so. I laughed and told them they were my favorite people at the grocery store today.
And then there were the not-really-cooks. One set was a (presumably) newly-married couple, another was a set of roommates. These were not people who cook or bake very often, so they sat in the flour aisle trying to determine if they needed dark brown sugar or light brown sugar. IN THE WHOLE AISLE. And the couple stood in front of the spices, cart sideways so they blocked the way, trying to find smoked paprika. And, did she think they could just use regular paprika? Did it really have to be smoked? What does that even mean, anyway?
Flour wasn’t on sale, so I just turned around and avoided the whole scene. Although the newlyweds were kept crossing my path through the whole store, and the husband kept apologizing. I hid in the baby food/tampon/diaper section. Newlyweds NEVER go down that aisle, and I’m always amused that those items are kept together.
It was entertaining to be able to enjoy the grocery store (which, disappointingly, was not playing Richard Marx or Chicago today, so my usual method of clearing an aisle by warbling along with the canned music wasn’t working), and to experience the variety of scenes of new college life in one place.
Thank goodness I left the kids at home.