I have a post a-brewing about our family's trip downtown to the Pride parade and celebration yesterday, but it's going to have to wait until I get the digital camera, its memory card, the card reader, Photoshop Elements and my gumption all in the same place and functioning simultaneously. Today is a low-gumption day; actually, I gumpted all my gumption this morning and have been coasting on gump fumes since about 1:15.
Hence: the exciting tale of my trip to the supermarket. Two supermarkets, actually.
We went to the New Seasons near our New House yesterday and had what I can only assume is a typical first-time shopper's reaction: delicious, widely varied, locally grown produce! incredibly helpful clerks! hundreds of tasty artisanal cheeses! angel choirs! Dropped $50 on a couple bags' worth of groceries for our fine delicious Father's Day dinner (hanger steaks with Gorgonzola polenta and double-garlic collards, if you want to know) and Jelly Bellys for the boys. Left feeling poorer, perhaps, but better connected to our Community and our Lofty Goals of Sustainability and suchlike.
Today, I had our regular weekday everyday shopping to do. The kind where I sit down and hash out what we'll be having for dinner for the next several nights, decide what we need to buy to make those recipes happen, add a few cursory breakfast & lunch items and go drop a wad of cash on the lot.
So, still warm & glowing from our New Seasons experience, I decided to forego our neighborhood Safeway and go shopping with the Beautiful People instead.
Twenty minutes later, I was like to hyperventilate. I hadn't even made it out of the produce section yet, and I was already starting to suffer retinal damage from rolling my eyes so far back in my head. Four dollars for tomatoes? Cucumbers for three bucks each? Garlic for $7.99 a freakin' pound? Sure, it was organic and grown thirty miles away on a happy farm where the crops frolic merrily all day... but I got kids to feed, man. And my total's pushing twenty bucks already and there's not even any milk in my cart yet.
And so it was that after a stop by the meat counter (where I was happy to pay $5.99 for pork chops from pigs that didn't live a life of unmitigated hell pre-slaughter), I got back in my dirty downmarket car and drove my dirty downmarket self to Safeway.
The MLK Drive Safeway at 4 p.m. on a Monday is truly a cross-cultural slice of life. From the tweeker mom violently poking at the bread while yelling at her kids to shuddup and siddown in the cart to the elegantly coiffed older lady who ran her cart into mine in a crap-choked aisle and said "Oh dear, this isn't a very good setup, is it?", from the mustachioed security guard who looks as though Ben Folds' "Rent A Cop" could've been based on his life to the saggin'-pants young man discussing the merits of Raisin Bran vs. Raisin Nut Bran with his sweetie over the cell phone (him: "So the kids won't eat Raisin Bran?" her, apparently: "No." him: "I'm looking all over this damn aisle and I don't see no Raisin NUT Bran."). From the blonde besunglassed lady who almost ran me down in the parking lot with her giant Ford Exhibition (ever heard of a crosswalk, bitch?) to the harried but sweet checker who, when I answered her "how are you?" with "I'm doing well, how are you?" looked over the tops of her glasses at me, smiled, and said "I'm having a WONDERFUL day." The only sort of person I didn't see at Safeway? Earnest, Fair Trade-cotton or polarfleece-clad, string-bag schlepping types straddling the boundary between hippie and hipster with varying degrees of alacrity. Which is the only sort of person that is to be found at New Seasons (except, apparently, when I'm there with my unwashed hair and my Target jeans).
The milk at Safeway? $2.50 a gallon. The yogurt? Fifty cents apiece. Peanut butter? Safeway brand, on sale for NINE CENTS an ounce, baby! Cereal? Kashi on closeout (woo-hoo! Mama loves her Kashi, but Mama ain't paying no $4.50 a box for it) and Safeway brand "frosted bite-size wheat biscuit food product." The total? Seventy bucks for enough food to make dinner for us for a whole week. Plus breakfast. And lunch.
So I guess this sounds like I'm coming down hard on New Seasons. I'm not; it's a far more aesthetically pleasing place to shop than Safeway, and I would love to be able to buy more of my groceries there. The produce is gorgeous; the meat counter is likely to become my primary source for flesh-based food (especially of mammals, which we don't eat a heck of a lot of so I'm okay with paying a little more for the good stuff when we do). It's a locally owned and operated company and I'm imagining they treat their workers fairly well.
But the real life? The not always so pretty, not always so prosperous kind? You'll find it at Safeway. Reading every shelf tag to get the lowest per-ounce price on ketchup. Getting a thrill when Jarritos are on sale and you can bring home an unanticipated treat. Yelling at the kids to siddown and shuddup. Jostling in the overcrowded aisles with people who've just come from work and people who can't hold a job. Most likely, running its cart directly over my foot.