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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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« Whining finally gets the respect it deserves. | Main | Today. »

Yesterday--when all my troubles seemed right in my lap.

Remember when I was all depressed, that day? Boy, good thing I didn’t post to my blog, because really, who wants to read my pathetic, self-involved whining? It would be like watching a kitten with a wounded paw trying to climb some stairs. Am I right, about the kitten? Not even a cute kitten, let me add. One of those hairless types. With a bad eye.

(I just wrote “bad idea” instead of “eye,” which amused me. I like very much the image of a kitten with a bad idea. “I think I’ll mash up some Dexedrine and mix it with a Coke!” thought the kitten with the bad idea. “Kitties need uppers!”)

Yesterday I thought I was feeling better, and then I went to the supermarket. The suburban supermarket is a terrible place. I was so tired of the tiny, cramped supermarkets of Brooklyn, in which all of the aisles are designed to be exactly two inches narrower than the average stroller. Many a supermarket clerk heard the grunts and curses of a disheveled mom trying to hoist her stroller over boxes of yams and Depends in Aisle 6. And oh, I would think, how I would like a car! A car that one could load up with the many groceries, instead of hanging one’s grocery bags from one’s bodily parts and then attempting to drag one’s bag-laden self and one’s ornery child homeward!

But it turns out I was stupid to think these things, because the supermarkets here, they drive me even nutsier. First off, they’re way too big to find anything. You’re looking for some arugula and there are 57 arugula aisles, and the organic arugula is in one of them but you’ll never know which, and then you think SCREW THIS I’ll just grab some romaine hearts and the romaine hearts are 300 miles away, in the Romaine Wing (Hearts Aisle). So even if you’re going to the store for three items, it will still take you a day and a half. Pack a lunch.

And also during the day, the only other people in the supermarket are senior citizens. Not just senior citizens—ultra-seniors. The over-90 set wanders the many aisles all day long, looking for the bus back to their assisted living facility. They like to amble in front of your cart and demand that you help them located the roasted cashews.

Finally, starving and exhausted, I staggered to the cashier, who asked for my Super Value Savings Saver Plus Card, and I had to tell her I didn’t have one. She looked at me like I had just confided that all these groceries were for my satanic baby-eating feast. "I don’t understand," she said, and I said, “I—I just don’t have one“ and she said “You have to have one,” Shop-Rite must have your personal information before you can partake in the savings, which of course isn’t true, strictly speaking, but is true for these exceedingly concerned cashiers who just want you to get the savings! The sweet savings! So finally she got the special Newcomer Courtesy Card or whatever that enabled me to save 38 cents, and she let me go. But it still took me 45 minutes to get to my car because of all the old people who died on their way to the exits.

I finally got to my car, where I cried into my steering wheel, because I still couldn’t see the humor in any of it. Luckily it’s hitting me today. A little late, but it’s coming to me.

Reader Comments (113)

Alright pet, I know you're feeling down, but I hope you can take heart in the knowledge that even when depressed, you are still so goddam funny. I really enjoy reading your stories, and hope that sometime soon you are smiling in the same way you make me smile with your writing. Romaine Wing (hearts aisle) indeed.I'm sending you happy thoughts from over here in the U.K.(you're so global, lady!):)

June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
I have now been banned from the store where my boyfriend works because threatening an old lady with a jar of blackberry jam after she refused to move herself or her trolley out of my way was seen as aggressive for some reason.There must be some kind of alarm that goes off every time I walk into one of those damn places that alerts every single senior that I am there so they can seek me out and shuffle in front of me.I think it should be a law that if an old person can't walk faster than a newly crawling baby, they should not be allowed out alone.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrightflowermaid
There, there. It's true, once you've shopped in the rat-maze supermarkets of Brooklyn, everything else is overwhelming.

The huge, suburban market closest to us is so friggin' depressing, I drive an extra five minutes (horrors!) to go to the snazzier, pricier, yuppier market. It just makes me feel better. Plus, they have random international items like lemongrass. Somehow that makes this place seem a little less provincial.

I still miss asking the stockboys questions in Spanish, though.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermadge
I'm so so so sorry that you're having a hard time. It's a huge adjustment, city to suburb living.

Seriously, though, I live in the suburbs. And have never laughed HARDER during blog-reading than I did at your description of the grocery store. You are RIGHT ON.

I hope things feel brighter for you soon.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPaige
I know it's hard, oh so hard, to get used to such massive places as the supermarket. Here in the suburbs they seem to make them bigger and bigger every year. At our local super-duper market they have a senior day - when senior citizens get extra savings. Avoid that day at all costs! We call it "f*cked up Tuesday". Make sure that you're not shopping on that day!
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterElleana
WORK THE PERIMETER, my friend. Don't stray down the aisles unless it's absolutely necessary. All the real food is on the perimeter of the store. Unless you're going to an Albertson's chain store, in which case they've decided to put half the dairy into frozen-looking cases, and you can't find the eggs because you think they're located among the goddamn frozen waffles.

Okay, I just second the Whole Foods idea, since that's my favorite place at this point, anyhow. And mine! My new one? It's tighter than Zabar's. I have to take the mini upright carts to keep from knocking over the tattooed senior hippies and their domestic partners loitering in the "bulk herbs" aisle. (I opted for a more urbanward move, I guess.) But if I buy vitamins and coffee, I can still pack $50 into a hand basket without straining my untoned arms.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEffective Nancy
Crying? There's no crying in shopping!

I'm sorry your day sucked butt but selfishly, we reap the benefits. I'm loving The Suburbs According to Alice.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMom101
Wow, all the senior citizen-bashing in the comments is saddening. I hope we never get old! Can't we just hate the gigantic kiddie carts with the truck appendages? Those are impossible to maneuver around tight corners, but they apparently make my kiddo's life worth living, so you can see the dilemma. ;^)
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
"The old people who died on their way to the exits"!

Definitely one of the funniest descriptions of a super market. Ever.

I'm sorry you're getting so much fodder for 'humor is pain remembered at leisure', but thanks for letting us in on all of it. (well, a part of it at least). You're the cutest hairless, one-eyed kitten ever.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOTRgirl
Hahaha I chuckled at the part about the old people dying on their way to the exits. Hilarious. I find the best time to go grocery shopping is Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night when it's dark out and all the old people are home sleeping (dying), good families are spending time together around the tube or the dinner table, and my entire demographic is out partying and getting wasted.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterErin
Old people really do go to these places to die.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBuffy
Next time the old people ask you for some roasted cashews, just hand them a box of Dexedrine. It's good old-fashioned fun that may cheer you up. The old people usually don't even notice. Plus, it gets them moving through the aisles in no time!
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMetroDad
You, too, will be old one day. Unless, of course, you are not. Ah, the arrogance of youth. How about a little compassion?
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJanet
Former Brooklynite also living in New Jersey now. I remember going to ShopRite and asking an employee where the tahini was. First let me say, I just knew he was going to look at me like I had 6 heads. And he did. He said, "Ta - what???" I did find it though ;-) on my own, a million years later. Because these supermarkets here really do have mostly everything you need, which is one good thing.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranita
oh my god yer funny. i wish you posted everyday, its nice to wake up to a good hearty laugh!
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterandrea
Hee - I misread the Romaine Wing as the Romanian Wing, and what type of ethnic foods do they have in Jersey??

Oh honey. I'm sorry.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdaysgoby
Oh, the old people. At least I know I'm not the only one they accost. Wait until you get the guy that follows you from aisle to aisle, whistling that toothy horse-whistle that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. There's no escape from him, because if you zip over to the other end of the store and reverse your trip, he will catch on and find you. Or Body Odor Guy. Or Sweaty Middle-Aged Couple. Or Family in the Middle of a Fight. Watch out for them, too.

At least you might actually still be close enough to the city for your grocery stores to be open till 9 on a Sunday. Mine aren't. I had such a rude awakening the first time I tried to do my grocery shopping at 7pm on a Sunday! What kind of deranged town is this, where stores are not open all night for my personal convenience?

June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWendy
Ah yes, the pain of grocery shopping. Sure you have a massive selection and can get everything in one trip BUT that trip will take you an entire afternoon, you'll age, new presidents will be elected, cities will fall and rebuild themselves while you wander the aisles.

I can deal with the old people, I just walk really fast and they seem to jump out of my way now. The hugeness isn't a problem anymore either, I know where everything is and I have a 'route'. What really chaps my hide is getting to the checkout area and seeing they have three lanes open for about 40 people and their cars are heaping full.

I have actually waited to check out for a half hour. I fell asleep while standing.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHope
I like it when you're a striken suburban super savings saver supermarket shopper. It makes for great blogging. Though I admit I do have a hard time gathering my sympathies when I'm so wonderfully amused.

I'll try harder.

June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
I have the Super Savings Card for my local grocery, and my husband and I scrupulously spent at least $40 there for 14 of the last 16 weeks so we could get a free set of garden tools. Now, we are going for the free set of barbecue tools. And even despite all that, we still have a happy life. Take heart. Someday you too will have a free set of garden tools.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
Alice, one word: Wegman's. (I think they have them in North Jersey---hopefully by you!) It's like the best of Zabar's, Whole Foods, and a regular supermarket all thrown together at once.

AND the preferred shopper card really pays off there. Every year, we are one of their Top 50 customers at our local store (really quite pitiful considering that we are a family of 3) and at Xmastime we get a $50 gift card, a bakery gift certificate, a gift bag, AND a hearty hug from the store manager.

Hope things get easier for you....
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterE
Oh, Alice. I'm so glad I have you around to make me feel better about myself. :)

I love the supermarket, because it's a super! market, and I love to wander around, leaning on my buggy, looking at people and trying to figure out where the mustard is located. That mustard is never where you think it will be.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjes
God, you are so funny

Suburban mega-store & old people:

Last year, I'm exiting said mega-store & while I'm waiting for a safe moment to cross to the gargantuan parking lot, 2 old (I mean, at least in the latter 70 to early 80 age category) ladies are standing there, having conversation & 1 says to the other: "Are you waiting to get picked up?"And the other one answers: "Oh, no, I already have a husband."

Now, I knew what Old Lady #1 meant: "Are you waiting for someone to come & drive you home." But apparently, Old Lady #2 views the suburban supermarket as her local hot spot. Just as I'm crossing the road, I hear OL #2 say: "But you might have some luck if you go over to the liquor department." (!)

So many things not right about this: I know the elderly need to eat & all, but are these people who don't even seem to know where they are being allowed to DRIVE for heaven's sakes?

Don't worry about the crying. At least you made it to the privacy of your car before losing it. I've had grocery store/mega-supermarket incidences where I've actually wept (thank God for sunglasses) before I got out of the building.

June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTerry
If I had a god I believed in, it would be Humour.

I'm sorry about all the old people dying all over the place in your new neighbourhood. It must be hell on your car to have to drive over them before they clear the streets in the morning.
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie
There is one huge advantage to shopping in big suburban stores. The checkers NEVER know their produce. Need shallots? They'll ring them up as yellow onions. Escarole sounds good, but the $2.50 a head too steep? No worries! They'll think its green leaf lettuce. I do sometimes dispair when I'm stocking up on nice, fresh fennel bulbs (I guess I'm the only person in Arlington, TX who buys them) and they can't find the price code, but usually they'll accept that it's a fancy kind of celery priced at 99 cents a bundle.

Yes, suburbia has its suckitude and it is magnified at the grocery store. You just have to look for the little victories!
June 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

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