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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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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« 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)

Hey. Does MacMall sell that laptop made of dung? Because, really, that would be a hot(!) item.

I was just re-reading this and was reminded of the teeny-tiny supermarkets in the NYC neighborhood of my youth. Everyone had an account and you could call up for a quart of milk. (You could also have your eight-year-old walk down the street for it, but that's a whole different ball of wax.)

Oh, and "perspective" people: um, DUH. How about reading something in context and appreciating the inherent meaning and humor?
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermadge
I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I no longer have to step into a grocery store. My home health aide (I'm disabled) shops for me. I just prepare a list and hope for the best. She often surprises me with things I didn't ask for or didn't want, but she does get the gist of the list.

We have 2 whole foods and 2 trader joes in my town, plus 3 major markets, all from the same chain. But we go shopping in a Boston neighborhood because the food is cheaper, the store is almost always partially empty, the handicapped spaces aren't being used by HUGE SUVs with no handicap tags, and best of all, they don't have canned music. It's a Stop and Shop and I tend to like their organic line anyhow, so this store is the best of all supermarket worlds. Except, oh... it's filled with old ladies in the daytime. They seem to go home sometimg around 3ish in time to get ready for the early bird specials, so either shop after 3 or in mid afternoon. Never early in the morning. They're all out buying metamucil in bulk then.
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermargalit
I am addicted to large grocery stores, I'll admit. But I can relate to the idea of being disconcerted by "different" in grocery shopping. I have hated every change in locale and grocery store size and style.

And I have to laugh that while on vacation, my husband and I sign up for the grocery store cards for grocery stroes we will never return to. Well, we throw them away, so even if we return, we get more cards. Just to save whatever amount they offer us. Because we're crazy (and cheap). And if a grocery store in California thinks they can track us in Wisconsin, they're wrong. The last time the store insisted we take the card, but didn't need any personal information. Bonus :)
June 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersarah
Melissa at SB went thru supermarketitis a few weeks ago. It's a trial, I know, and going with 3 kids is like outta a JP Sarte play or something. My survival plan includes going to a few different places so I can go the one that suits my mood and needs at the time. Sure there's a learning curve at each one, but you'll soon get the hang of it. Also if your fave is a bit out of the way it is sooo worth the drive.

I grew up out east and get back pretty often.IMO-the eastern supermarket chains are much much better than the ones here in midwest suburbia (why is it called The Jewel? which it is so not!)Wegmans is very good. ShopRite, Price Chopper are rougher but there are a few dealable locations of PC. Stop N Shop- baffling ordeal.

I'm worried about you at Costco. I hate it, but take a Klonopin and a friend and go see for yourself.

OH see if a friend wouldn't mind giving you a discount card dealie. They usually give severalper account. A few of mine are registered to my dad,who loves to register for stuff. Also sometimes the person behind you in line will scan theirs for you if you ask nicely. That's very common here, but I must say when I tried that at a PC in VT the lady acted like I wanted a section of her liver or something, but did do it.


June 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLB
Well, Alice, if you hate old people then so do I. Because I too have been victimized by the senior set in the afternoons. Which I believe they think is their exclusive province. Not just the grocery store, the whole world. They think all the kids are in school and all the older kids are working, so they have the entire world to themselves. Which, would be fine with me because mostly that's true, except that on occasion you do have the odd under 40 person attempting to use the grocery store or buy some fast food or tires or something and the old people, they don't share nice. They move extra slow, they block the way, they are, in a word, inconsiderate. And see, I thought old people were all on about manners all the time and I have seen way more old people show an appalling lack of manners during the middle of the day in a grocery store than most little kids show in a Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday afternoon.

So, old people, no disprespect and I don't hate you or anything... but get over yourselves and stop acting like you own the middle of the day.
June 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTitanKT
Supermarkets ARE hilarious, and must be viewed as such. The only times I go are when I am super busy and on! a! mission! so watch out fellow shoppers or the times when I just kind of wander a daze fondling the leafy greens and wondering why on earth I'm holding a basket.

Just remember, there is no shame in walking right out of the store if the humanity overwhelms you. I would recommend the self-checkout lanes if the other people involved knew actually knew how to use them.

I like to use trips to these stores to engage in my favorite passive-aggressive activity, which is to cheerfully say "Oh, excuse you!" to people who shove themselves right in my way. It's fun. And no one has ever once noticed.

Also (you seem to have tapped into some pent up grocery-related issue) I once got yelled at (yelled at!) by a woman in Whole Foods who was annoyed that I wasn't using the Express Lane. Even though I had 15 items or fewer! So, you can annoy people by willinigly choosing to wait in line for longer than absolutely necessary. And then you can annoy the cashier by smugly refusing to get a saver card. Or, even more fun, turn around and ask the person behind you for their card and swipe that. Beat the system!! Although once, I forgot to swipe my card, and reminded the cashier after she'd already told me the total. She just asked me how much money I figured I'd saved and then handed me actual cash money. (Go Albertson's!)

Good luck, Alice!!
June 12, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterliri
I am not actually an idiot. I know and love the apostrophe. And, of course, when not to use it. Right?
June 12, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterliri
I seriously can't believe that a few of these comments are from people so completely humorless they feel compelled to comment about senior citizens and oh, living in Iraq. Really ? You had to search that far to make a snide comment? Why not click that little red button on the top of your page instead?

The great thing is that once you become a true suburbanite you can get a huge honkin' SUV and drive over old people where ever you go, and with good shocks, you won't even spill your diet pepsi while you do it. Once you get really good, you can talk on the cell phone at the same time.
June 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa V
(I know I'm a day late, but I have an 8 month old) Too funny! My Grocery store is so far away from a city, I can't buy Pita bread there, Arugula what? I tried to get fresh ginger and I swear the produce guy didn't know it came that way. We have a special day for seniors so we can just avoid the store on Wednesdays. I always tell them I'm too busy to fill out the form for the discount card and I'll bring it by next time. So far that's worked and my key chain looks like a chinese fan with all the discount cards. Big Brother does not need to know my bad food habits.
June 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
"Yes, Liz. And if I didn't have arms I coudln't push the shopping cart. And if my laptop were made of sheep dung I'd have a terrible Internet connection."

Oh, my, word. Can't. Breathe. Help, the laughing! It is killing me!

That response was almost better than the entire entry.

June 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVery Mom
Hilarious post.
June 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLeta
my worst supermarket moments came when both our local stores, stop & shop and whole foods, rennovated their stores AT THE SAME TIME. and they did it in this evil, heinous way, where not only did the aisles change every day, they moved the stock around WHILE YOU WERE THERE. to this day i still cannot get the "old" map of these stores out of my brain and remember where, say, the keep the flour.
June 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
cardboard jesus?!?! christian superstore?!? holy crap! you really DO have everything in america!

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