You always end up with a shopping buddy, someone who either started two minutes before you did or two minutes after. You are going up the canned food aisle, she is coming down. You are going down the laundry detergent aisle, she is coming up. At some point you acknowledge one another with nods and awkward smiles. Yes, we are shopping at the same time, your smiles say. You are each others' shadows for the next thirty minutes.
I always avoid getting in the same check-out line with my shopping buddy. It would be too much. We have been so intimate, our fingers touching the same cans of beans, our eyes meeting over the bananas. And yet we will never see each other again. Small talk would be awkward, painful. Impossible.
I fully believe that everyone in the checkout line is judging me by the contents of my shopping cart. They care if my meat is organic and local and notice if my cereals are sugary. They raise their eyebrows at packaged cookies (I made two dozen chocolate chip cookies at the beginning of the week, I want to tell them, and I often bake my own bread) and think well of me when they see all the fresh produce.
At the same time I understand without a doubt that no one cares what's in my cart. I am a forty-six year-old mother and housewife who drives an ocean blue Honda Odyssey minivan. I am the most invisible person on the face of the planet, and my food choices are of absolutely no interest to anyone. That's why I spend my time in line reading People and Us instead of Newsweek. You can get away with that sort of thing when you're invisible.
Last week a carton of grape cherry tomatoes was 3.99. This week it is 4.99. Which is to say, my relationship with cherry tomatoes is officially over until July, when I will pick them from my garden, and they will taste so much better than they ever did plucked from a plastic carton.
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