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Drunk/Sober/High: Grocery Shopping

We all do it. Some do it once a day. Some do it once a week. Even if we’re doing it through our computer and getting it delivered, we all go grocery shopping. How we do it are different exercises, as I will explore in this week’s Drunk/Sober/High: Grocery Shopping.

As a sober man, grocery shopping is met with planning and precision. Ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner are obtained with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits to incorporate into meals and use as snacks. (That’s for you, Mom. You can stop reading now.) Most of the aisles are explored so that I can get an idea for new delicious culinary concoctions and see which items I will select for the four-course menu for my lovely dinner companions and me. (That’s for the lovely dinner companions. You can stop reading now.) I examine labels for ingredients (high fructose corn syrup = bad) as well as nutritional content. I compare the servings per dollar for each brand so that I can find the best bargains. (That’s for all the OCD readers. But, you have to keep reading, don’t you?)

A well-balanced grocery cart leads to well-balanced meals. If there is a way to use fresh foods instead of frozen or canned, then I’m all for it as preparing the food yourself is more healthy and a lot of the time, more interesting and challenging. (All of which is true when I want to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen. Which is hardly ever. You see, when I’m sober I want to impress you with my diet and grocery shopping habits.)

groceryDrunk, on the other hand, is all about ready to eat, right now. If you stumble in around nine am looking for ready-made breakfast food, you’ll be disappointed and you’ll disappoint all of the grandmothers and grandfathers wandering the aisles. Such a shame. Maybe there will be frozen biscuit sandwiches to heat up in the microwave, but that means that walking home will be empty-handed. Eventually after you have wandered around a bit, stumbled into the bulk food aisle and sampled various bins much to the disapproval of cart toting know-it-alls, you will settle on a nice rotisserie chicken which will have it’s legs ripped off as you stumble back home. Which, now that I think of it, is the same result of wandering in drunk at three in the afternoon or midnight. All that is different is the relative dryness of the chicken after sitting under sun lamps all day. By midnight though, you don’t care if your rotisserie chicken looks like George Hamilton, everything tastes the same. Which you think is good.

A high visit to the grocery store is a danger to your health and your wallet. It becomes a quest for everything. Orange juice. Bananas. Ice cream. Cans of beans. String cheese. Hungry Man dinners. Bread and peanut butter. Goldfish crackers and peanut butter. Frosted Flakes and peanut butter. Frozen pizza and peanut butter. Of course, everyone is watching you and your choices. They might not be looking now, but they just were, you can tell, they just move faster than you and avert their gaze before you can feel their eyes crawling up the back of your spine. At this point you hold your shopping basket like football so that no one can steal it from you and look, there’s theater candy. Which would go great with peanut butter. While you wonder if you can drink peanut butter and why no one has introduced peanut butter flavored milk, your overflowing basket and continued exclamations of “This is the best food ever,” have really got people watching. You’ve noticed them watching. They’re watching you watching them watching you. You slowly put down the basket, grab one item and then back away. Fortunately you’ve grabbed the peanut butter. Which goes great with the goldfish crackers, Frosted Flakes, bananas and frozen pizza. You creep back to your basket and grab those items and the ice cream and a box of theater candy and book it to the self-check out aisle. After three minutes of knowing you know how this works but you can’t get the bananas to scan, you finally just go to the regular checkout. The lady smiles at you and you smile back. Everything is fine. Everything is cool. You’ll be eating soon. Yes. Maybe even just on the sidewalk of the grocery store. It’s easier than walking and eating.

So, you may look homeless, you may think too much of George Hamilton or you may just try to hard to impress other folks, but you’ll eventually get some groceries. Just be sure to prepare yourself for the biggest question: did you bring your own bags? (Drunk, sober or high, you always forget.)

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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