Making a list, checking it twice

18 Jun

I went grocery shopping this morning because I was out of, well, everything. I used to hit up Safeway (or a more exciting supermarket) without a clear agenda: buy whatever strikes your fancy! But at some point I became the kind of person who writes out a list, and not just any list—the dullest, simplest list imaginable. I mean this isn’t even shit I need to write down. Today’s haul: plain yogurt, bananas, orange juice, frozen vegetables… I’ll spare you the rest. I surveyed my Chobani-laden bag as I left the store and I was forced to ask myself, “When did I become so boring?”

I guess the real question is, “When did I become an adult?” I fondly recall a time when I treated every grocery store excursion as a “kid in a candy store” situation. What did I buy? What didn’t I buy! I used to joke that I grabbed everything but the essentials, which wasn’t so much a joke as an accurate assessment of my purchases. Who needs milk when you can buy overpriced bottles of aloe juice? Tuna in a can is boring—go for the canned conch you’ll never eat. Instead of bananas, grab some spiky fruit you can’t figure out how to open. And remember, there’s always room for weird Japanese gelatin-based confections.

While I miss the spontaneity of my whimsical shopping adventures, I don’t exactly pine for the days when I spent $50 on a bunch of crap that was mostly inedible once the novelty wore off. I’m still not what you’d call good with money, but I’ve become way more practical and somehow that bums me out. I’m predictable. I’m calorie-conscious. I consider raspberries and nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt a treat. And yeah, part of it is dieting, but because I can’t help but overanalyze everything, I have to think about what my grocery choices mean on a larger scale. I shop the way an older person shops, with a slightly lower emphasis on bran. (Although, and don’t you fucking repeat this, I’ve gotten really into fiber.)

There are worse things than boring groceries, I guess. What really struck me about my Safeway-inspired angst was how distraught I was over feeling like an adult. I spend a lot of time reminding myself that I’m a grown-up and trying to act accordingly. I hate when people assume I’m younger than I am, or when my behavior strikes me as “very college.” But as soon as I show signs of maturity, I get all nervous, because in lots of ways, I do still want to be an idiot kid. And for some reason, I see a correlation between that and buying pepita brittle. (‘Cause, you know, kids looove pepitas.) What I’m really reacting to is the internal voice that pops up whenever I reach for something unnecessary: “No, that’s not practical. You don’t even really want it. Why spend $4 on a cracker that tastes like bird food?”

But of course, apples taste better than grapples. (Are you familiar with grapples? They are apples infused with the flavor of grapes! Their flavor can best be described as really bitter Dimetapp.) In the long-run, I am making more satisfying choices, saving money, and—ideally—avoiding hypertension. There’s nothing fun and sexy about responsibility, though. And all of this is probably just a deflection, because I don’t feel like addressing the real issue. Buying granola doesn’t make me a boring adult, but maybe feeling all tuckered out at 9 p.m. does. So tell me: am I wasting my youth, or am I just getting older? Also, is it normal to sing “Landslide” while you’re unloading your groceries?

One Response to “Making a list, checking it twice”

  1. infinite monkey theorem June 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    …about that, I have this…youth, they say, (old farts to a man), is wasted on the young. Sounds to me like you’re just saving some for later. That’s wise, you’ll be happy you did when your 40. As for those damnable four dollar crackers! They make peanut butter taste like ambrosia by contrast. They are intended as a culinary dissonant note. And at that, they are brilliant!

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