Friday, February 27, 2009

Yes, My Organic-Fed, Breastfed Baby Eats Funyuns

So does my organic Cliff Bar eating four year old. But only in desperate times.

I love grocery shopping. It's such fun to walk through a good produce section and feel the oranges, tap the melons, sniff the tomatoes. We're pretty fortunate in the Austin area to have some excellent grocery stores. Grocery stores with playscapes on the roof, parks out back, gelato bars, and a nice furniture section.

That's right. A local grocery store chain has added a "Plus" to its name, creating a massive superstore that smacks of something like Wal-Mart meets The Roomstore meets Babies 'R' Us. Excuse me while I puke. But, there's something wrong with strolling through a fabulous wine section, looking up and seeing bunk beds and mattresses on an endcap.

I rarely go to the "Plus" version of our dear grocery store. I tend to shop at the stores that offer the best produce selection and the best organic selection. Today, though, the "Plus" store was convenient (at least in location), and we are out of milk, eggs, grapes, and oranges (Spark's four food groups these days). I plan to stop in, grab the essentials and something to cook for dinner tomorrow night. Instead, I leave with a final bill of $113.82 and that's after I use my handful of in-store coupons. "Plus" indeed.

I should have known to back away from the store when Spark finds the car-carts. You know, those Godforsaken shopping carts that look like race cars. I admit at first I was infatuated with them. Spark has always loved anything with wheels, so it was such fun to put him in the car-cart when he was younger. Until I actually tried to push the thing and learned the first rule of car-carts: no power steering. The second rule? Very heavy. The final rule, and this one's a kicker: Lots of stuff stuck to it. Gross stuff too. I mean, nasty half-eaten lollipops, leftover sticker adhesive that has attracted gnats and dirt, some brown gunk that is surely a partially petrified stain from a former car-cart driver's diaper blowout. Those kinds of things.

So, I sigh when Spark screams, "I see a car! I see a car! Let's get it Mommy!"

As we pull into a parking spot, Spark is desperate to get out. He has spotted a car in the past and gosh darn it, someone else beat us to it. Well, today is a similar story. As we race toward the cart stash, another mom places her daughter in the car-cart. Inside, I'm singing some angelic chorus. But Spark has started his whine. Completely fed up with his whine, I just let him have it. He gets over it, and we head into this mammoth store that is larger than the town I grew up in.

Suddenly, I'm sucked in. There are product demonstrators everywhere. The products, though, are HEB's own recipes. The demonstrators, aka chefs, have microphones as they attempt to sway customers in. Right next to the demo areas are stacks of all the necessary ingredients. That way, if you like the recipe, you can just pick up the things you need to recreate it at home right away! Genius!!

And the samples. Oh the samples! Spark has a hey-day at the Pop-Tart station, what with their high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, rarely make an appearance at our breakfast table. But, he's taken in by them. "Oh, Mommy, I like the strawberry." The demoer of the Pop-Tart mentions they have a coupon for their "new" Pop-Tart, one with more fiber. With the $1.00 off, the WHOLE BOX is JUST 68 measely cents! My!

I've started to itch all over. I can't find the canned tomato products aisle because I'm lost somewhere in the batteries and flashlights. Then, I get twisted around and wind up in Party City. But I haven't left the grocery store. It's just that in the center of the store, there is an entire party store, completely with a balloon/banner station. Mercy! Why would I EVER leave this place?

I turn down the "picante sauce" aisle to grab a jar of salsa. And we see her. The girl who stole Spark's car-cart. Her mom is trying to push the cart. It's hard. I tell her how happy I am that she got to that cart before us because I hate those things and their despicable diaper blowout leftovers stringing from the seat. Well, I don't say it out loud, but I'm thinking that. Spark, on the other hand, is more vocal. In the saddest voice, he murmurs, "That's the cart I saw. The one I wanted. It was mine." He's quickly consoled because the driver of the cart is a cute blonde girl about his age, and she brightly greets him. He's in love.

Soon, though, we're back in Party City, and I've got to get out of there before I start buying Disney Princess streamers and Incredible Hulk kazoos. So, I turn out of there, and realize I've been going in circles for a while. I see a line. It's people waiting on cake samples. "Oh, I want some chocolate cake," sighs Spark. And Flower starts to do her "I want food now" dance when she sees the stuff. In a trance, I move our cart to the line. We get our cake and eat it, too.

We walk by two other "demos." One is a spinach-strawberry salad. I know people like that kind of stuff, but I just don't like fruit with my veggies. The other is some fish concoction. And, for some reason, probably because I'm in my trance, I tell the lovely lady who offers me a bite of Tilapia that "we don't eat dead animals." She just looks at me. Spark looks at me. It's not really true, but we have given up animal flesh for Lent. I move on, tranced.

Then, we make our way to the checkout line. I don't know it, but this store is so huge that there are two sections of checkout lines. A friendly checkout guide tells me that the other side of checkout lines has little or no waiting. Compared to the four carts loaded down in front of me, I readily agree to move over to the "other" side. I didn't realize that it was approximately 2.6 miles across town to get there with my 92.8 pound cart and kids. Spark, meanwhile, is yelling, "No dead animals! No dead animals!" as he makes crazy Star Wars moves in the direction of people toting their defeathered chickens to the checkout lines. I wonder when we became hardcore PETA vegans.

Finally, we can exit the building. I step outside, and the 88-degree day greets me like a plastic bag over the head. It's so freaking hot. And the sun is so bright. I'm disoriented, like I just left a matinee and forgot I wasn't seeing the evening show. I have no idea where our car is. So, I stop just outside the door, blinking. I'm sure others thing I'm some crazed one with two kids and $100+ worth of items aboard.

I forget for a moment that the kids bought the Funyuns. But, Spark doesn't. He wants them, and I mumble something about waiting until we get in the car. Then, I change my mind. They're getting antsy, and God knows where the car is. Might as well let them have an overly processed puff of some kind of refined grain with a sprinkling of artificial onion powder, right?


Anonymous said...

I love me some Funyuns. (Or I did till I got sick on them.)

I hate me some car carts, especially the clunkers at HEB. Those beasts handle like barges, and they don't hold all that much stuff. Plus, as you noted, they're nasty, nasty. Like you, I silently rejoice every time the car carts are claimed.

Martia said...

Oh, Craig. That must have been some serious Funyun eating to make you sick.

HEB has the WORST car carts. The ones at Whole Foods are a tad better, but still, Whole Foods is so hard to get around in anyway (small aisles, lots of people) any extra baggage is no good.

Parenting Blogs - Blog Top Sites