It's late Sunday afternoon and the Homer Simpson in me says we have to go to Kroger's to buy food. Mmmmmmmmm, fooooooood!
You don't have to tell me twice and in an instant Homer and I are in the truck heading down the highway, ZZ Top blaring out the windows. I checked out the pantry before we set off to see what we needed. In ordinary times I would have written a list, but we just needed to round out the edges so I had it all up here (tapping temple). No need for a list when you've got a mind like a steel sieve.
We parked way at the end of the aisle even though there were spots closer to the store. I like to do that. It drives the kids insane that I don't park closer, or pretend I'm pregnant (not a stretch) or incapacitated (hmmm, not a stretch, either) but it's become a habit and I've taken it so far as to include parking far away as part of my Fitness Program.
Homer and I grabbed a canteen of water and set off across the parking lot to Kroger's. Shortly, we arrived and found the place virtually empty. Bonus score! We'll be in and out in a jiff.
We wheeled the cart around the store like demons possessed and in short order we were ready to check out. In typical Kroger's Sunday afternoon fashion there was only one checkout line open, choked with several families shopping for treks across the Mongolian Desert. Just as I was thinking about the best laid plans of mice, Homers and men, a light caught my eye and checkout line Number Eight opened for business. Merciful sweet Butterfinger we were saved! Homer and I pivoted the cart and headed to the pole position.
The Old Hand greeted us warmly, asked for our Kroger's Plus Card (always at the ready!) and proceeded to check us out at flank speed.
Then he paused. "You appear to be 'Home Alone' with the cats this week."
"Oh, yeah," I replied, "What gives you that impression?"
"Well, for a start, you're shopping with an imaginary friend, and not a good influence either, if I may be so bold. Second, let's take an inventory of your weeks shopping: "
6-pack of Corona
"That's going to hold you for a week?" the Old Hand continued.
"Well, not exactly," I responded weakly, eying the Corona, knowing it would barely survive Monday, "I'll pick up something on Tuesday, maybe a Pho or curry or something." That sounded pretty pathetic, even to me; like a schoolboy caught without his homework
The Old Hand winced as if stung by a gnat, but recovered smoothly.
"You know," he mused, "we've got Gulf shrimp on special back there in Seafood. Came in just today and let me tell you those are the best shrimp I've ever pulled up. I threw out an extra net just for you, you know."
I looked down and the Old Hand's shoes were still wet. The salt was just starting to crust at the edge of his trousers.
The Old Hand continued, "Big shrimp, too, biggest I've seen in many a year. Big enough to stuff. We got crab, too. You owe it to yourself being home alone and such. Pick up some of those shrimp, stuff 'em with crab, wrap 'em in bacon and have a grand feast."
I looked at the Tater Tots defrosting in the cart and thought, yeah, that would be good but...
"Well, I'm sorta of watching my cholesterol, and, you know, shrimp are sorta of high, not to mention bacon..." My excuses sounded weak. Tater Tots, geeze Louise, they must be a zillion points; each!
In the end I couldn't escape the logic and I began to build a dinner around the shrimp entree. Well, I thought, we could do a rice pilaf with red bell pepper and black beans. A jalapeno corn bread would be nice, a green salad and a chardonnay, maybe a Chalk Creek.
With the seafood section in sight I pivoted the cart and started to get the items for my new dinner list when the Old Hand called me back.
"No need to be hasty," he said, "I happen to have some stuff here at the register." And with that he rang up shrimp, crab, rice, red bell peppers and the other ingredients I needed finishing with a Chalk Creek chardonnay, 2001.
As the sacker was loading the groceries I muttered "A box of Kix?"
"You're almost out," intoned the Old Hand.
I paid by credit card, Homer rejoined me and soon we were on the way, feast in hand, and I was planning the cooking as we headed home. Back at the ranch we unpacked the booty and it struck me that I forgot to buy a can of Pounce.
Sandy the cat lives for Pounce, or so he'd let you think. You can't say the word "pounce" without Sandy bounding across the room with his "me! me!" face on. Rats, I thought, I got the cat chow, but forgot the Pounce.
But, as I rummaged through the last bag I came across something new: Caribbean Flavor Pounce.
"What's this," I said aloud, "Caribbean Flavor Pounce?" It must have been my imagination but I thought I heard Sandy say "Meow, mon." I broke the seal and tossed him a few.
You know, there might be something like too much Home Alone.