Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fun-and-games at the Grocery Store.

M. has decided that it's a big help for me to accompany her and Baby E. when they go to the grocery store. It just so happened that this past Saturday's weather forecast seemed to suggest treacherous road conditions, and cabin fever looked to be a distinct possibility. Ordinarily I would have no interest in going to the local strip mall during a weekend afternoon, but I knew that it made sense in our circumscribed world. We bundled up the tyke and set off, me driving at about half the speed I would normally attain due to passengers and ice. Naturally there was a hint of slip on the road and people were already driving like idiots. I don't get drivers who think panic makes them more adept behind the wheel.

When we got to the store I realized that everyone had anticipated the types of difficulties that we had. Perhaps the weather forecast is sponsored by Giant Eagle (I really don't know). There were a lot of folks in the aisles that seemed as oblivious as they probably had been on the streets outside. I'll be forthcoming and admit that whatever attitude I had when I walked through the sliding automatic doors was accentuated by the fact that I had only slept about four hours. I quickly made an executive decision to follow M. around blindly and not try to make any tough decisions. Through hindsight I have determined that this was wise. I would have been completely dazed and over-stimulated otherwise.

My main objective was to find a way to make the trip fun for E. and I. The first thing I focused on was his vocalizations. For some reason, he was especially happy I was along. He kept beaming up at me from his metal bench at the front of the cart. I guess he wanted to let me know about his good mood, as he was shouting out some funny stuff of his own devise. So I thought it was only right to return the favor at an enhanced volume. Perhaps it annoyed some particularly stressed patrons. If so i wasn't aware of it, and I wouldn't have cared regardless. In my condition I felt like E. was speaking my language, and I wanted to make sure there was a dialogue. I know that he appreciated it because we both got progressively louder.

Then I realized that certain customers were actually paying attention to us. Of course I had to start clowning around. In an exaggeratedly solicitous voice I kept asking E. what kind of dog food he wanted. I explained to him that the nuances of flavored mixes, and that he might prefer something with fish in it. Again I knew that he was entertained because he was laughing maniacally by that point. Meanwhile we started getting some strange stares from people. I pointedly asked him if we were all out of Robitussin, and if he had finished the last of it, as I had been too blitzed the night before to remember. The exchange was especially amusing because he had a prominent bruise on his head from daycare that was easy to notice.

Having scandalized the joint already, I decided to mimic stealing stuff off the shelves, hoping E. would take my cue. I even took off his mittens to facilitate the learning process. He was all kicked back with a gangster lean, hand dangling innocuously over the side. We went through the cookie aisle several times. E.'s got the kind of face that makes others love him almost immediately, so our developing scam is especially effective. I just have to figure out how to identify my favorite products for him, and he needs to learn how to hide the more valuable items where no one will look. I figure that we have plenty of time to work on the act. He'll get more wily as he continues to grow into his cuteness. He does indeed make the supermarket fun.

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