Having been without gainful employment for the last three months, my trips to the grocery store have been infrequent, replaced by a daily pilgrimage to the quickie mart for cigarettes and the occasional hot dog. I used to loathe the grocery store. Every week, I’d walk up to the storefront thinking this time, it’ll be different. This time I’ll stroll the aisles with veteran confidence, whistling as I nonchalantly pick out all the ingredients for Coq au Vin or Beef Stew or Pad Thai. But somehow, even with the aid of a list, I wind up at home with the same four items – bread, Orangina, goat cheese, and Arrowroot Cookies. And it takes at least an hour of head-scratching, blank stares in the direction of the produce section, and frantic calls to friends before I surrender, leaving the happy shoppers to their free samples and hypnotic soft rock. I’m almost inclined to thank poverty for freeing me from the shackles of grocery shopping, but I’m more inclined to eat. Until my eventual payday, I’m limited to the pantry, and dreaming of the days when me and the corner grocery can on-again our on-again, off-again relationship.
I don’t know how old the oatmeal in my pantry is, and I have no idea where it came from. Last week, PBS told me that centenarians have high levels of HDnl (the good cholesterol) and Quaker Oats told me eating their oatmeal will lower my bad cholesterol. My own research shows that oatmeal has a very long shelf-life. Do the math. I like to pretend that I’m one of those “on the road to healthy“ people in the commercials, starting the morning off right, making a commitment to better herself, but it’s all just a matter of paunch and circumstance, and it’s well past noon. Though my circumstance might reduce my paunch (however involuntary), perhaps the next time I’m staring down the mixed greens wondering what they want, I’ll think of those healthy people on TV and what they would do.