Thursday, March 10, 2016
Gone Shoppin' ...
My dad--most of his life--didn't do much "going to the store"; that was Mom's job. (Later, retired, he liked going: He could buy the things he shouldn't--things Mom would not have bought for him--like dry-roasted peanuts and beer, the staples he consumed while watching every single football game he could.)
When I got out on my own (1966--my first year of teaching), I liked shopping--though I would have liked it more if I'd actually had some money to buy things I wanted. My take-home that first year (as I've mentioned here before) was $168.42 on the 1st and the 15th of every month. After rent, utilities, car payment, etc., I didn't have a lot for food (and cigarettes--yes, I was smoking then). I shopped at the market in Twinsburg, Ohio, where I had my first apartment (now razed ... to remove all evidence of me?). I think it was a Sparkle Market (it's gone now).
I would buy hamburger, ice cream, potatoes, Coke--health food, in other words--then watch it gradually (and far too quickly) disappear. By the end of each pay period I was employing a two-pronged strategy to avoid starvation: (1) eating mounds of boiled potatoes, mashed with butter, (2) dropping in on friends and colleagues around supper time on some bogus errand. And so I stayed alive.
After I got married (Dec. 1969), Joyce and I shopped at the Sparkle Market (RIP) in Kent, Ohio, right behind our place on College Court. We often went on Friday afternoons, a date and time that soon solidified into a ritual, a ritual that continued on through my public school teaching career.
But when I started teaching at Western Reserve Academy (in 2001--post-public school retirement), Friday was not all that good a time: We had Saturday morning classes, and I was always scuffling to prepare, grade, etc.
So ... a new routine. On Sunday mornings (now in Hudson, Ohio) we would go to the local Panera for a bagel, coffee, the New York Times, chat; afterwards, we would walk over to the Acme and do our shopping for the week.
In one way I was becoming more and more like my post-retirement father: shopping because I could buy the things I wanted (but, often, most assuredly did not need). But over the years I'd also assumed more and more of the cooking duties--and virtually all of the baking.
I'd begun baking our bread for pecuniary reasons back when we were first married and in grad school: It was cheaper to do so (and tasted just a lot better). As my Facebook friends know, I still bake every Sunday and post on FB some annoying pictures of the result.
But why all the cooking? Well, Joyce got home from work (in most cases) quite a bit after I did. So--a combination of being nice to her and hunger propelled me into the kitchen, where, I soon found, I enjoyed being. I do almost all of our cooking now--though there are things Joyce likes that I don't, so she will prepare them. (Some meals are amusing: Our plates look entirely different.)
We stopped our Panera routine a year or so ago and now go to the Open Door Coffee Co. on Sunday mornings (a five-minute walk). And we've changed our shopping day to Thursday afternoon: far less crowded. We both go--assuring, as I've said, that the "right" items for each of us end up in the cart.
For me, that means chicken (which Joyce will eat, but not so eagerly), salmon (Joyce loves it too), eggs (I make omelets once/week--hers are more veggie, mine more (turkey) sausage-y), yogurt (she eats a different brand/flavor than I), fruit (apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries for me; Joyce gets a few different things), flour, bread-fixin's, pasta, veggies (totally different here: Joyce is more like a ruminant--loves all sorts of veggies; I'm more ... picky: corn, peas, carrots), etc. We both like sparkling water--though different brands/flavors. And, occasionally, we'll buy something naughty--Italian ice (lemon, berry), crackers (I cannot resist them, so we don't buy them often).
Nowadays, I have to be a lot more careful about my diet. I'm "enjoying" quarterly injections of Lupron (to battle my persistent prostate cancer), and that drug makes many recipients gain massive weight--as I started to do at first. But my oncologist gave me a dire (Dyer!) forecast, so I've lost most of it by undergoing an unpleasant (but effective) regimen: healthful food only, no seconds/desserts/snacks, regular exercise. It ain't fun, but it works.
Meanwhile, today is Thursday, and I'm already thinking about the store, about the food I will buy, about the food I will see but not buy and wish I could.
As Kurt Vonnegut wrote continually in Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), "So it goes."