Without your parents recently visiting to take you out to dinner, buy you groceries, and inevitably deliver their Glenn Beck-esque misgivings about your Muslim friend, your refrigerator’s only contents are American cheese, a half case of beer, and an old jar of pickles. Indeed, your functional alcoholism has never been more evident.
You don’t make a list—lists are for neurotic moms, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Oskar Schindler. You have a rough outline of what your paltry non-booze budget will allow, plus, you remember the five critical aspects to any trip to the grocery store:
1. Alcohol Aisle: Unless you’re living in one of those Jesus counties where they don’t allow dancing on Sundays, the sale of alcohol in food stores, or permit any woman to own land or vote, this is the place to start. You know the budget and you know what items are essential, like hot sauce, and which items you don’t really need, like milk. Ideally a homeless man, fresh off of using the facilities to escape the rain and to drop some stray stank out of his dumper, will be present to play the part of a pseudo-wine steward to advise you on the cheapest and strongest liquor and fortified wine available. Funny how circumstances like this remind us that there are still some tasks, other than complaining and dressing poorly, that homeless people are useful for. After selecting an economical yet comically large jug of what is likely a concoction of grain alcohol and dirty river water, you refuse to tip said unkempt fake sommelier and continue to browse.
2. Frozen Food Aisle: Despite what your storied history of berating waiters to the point of tears might suggest, you’re no Food Network personality or celebrity chef. Hence, your shameful lack of culinary skills renders you only capable of correctly programming microwaves, preheating ovens, and operating sinks effectively. Pizzas, dinosaur nuggies, and mozzarella sticks—what the food in the Frozen section lacks in nutritional value it more than makes up for in taste, ease, and fun; consequently, not buying these tasty delights to soon grace your taste buds with orgasmic tsunamis of pleasure becomes an irrational action. Plus, with preparation instructions on these as minimalistic as “Microwave two minutes” or “Thaw and eat,” your brain will be delighted in the lack of future reading it is to be taxed with. Stock up on everything your budget allows—you’ll thank you the next time your in the midst of a hot-pocket binge at three in the morning.
3. Potato Chip Aisle: The siren song of chips, queso, and an heart attack at age thirty two is tough for any red-blooded American to resist. You may delude yourself into thinking you’re turning over a new leaf this week, but there’s no silencing your inner fat kid who still eats mayonnaise sandwiches topped with Pixy Stix while the rest of his fourth-grade class refuses to sit close to him. Said portly preteen’s habits still control you in a sense that you never have to show emotion because you know you can always know drown any feelings with ranch dressing. Unsurprisingly, you’ll grab a few bags of sour-cream-and-cheddar chips and completely justify your purchase of a fattening food flavored with two very fattening foods in the name of patriotism, nostalgia, and stimulating the economy.
4. Meat Section: True, that there are vegetarians who wouldn’t take this step during their grocery excursion, but their trips generally include less shopping and more asking people to sign their “Free Tibet” petition, playing the pan flute for money in the parking lot, and trying to sell their artisan wind chimes. To the rest of us, the Meat section is the drool-inducing centerfold of the supermarket. No matter if you’re splurging on a piece of beautifully marbled steak made taken directly from the laughing cow, indulging on a bag of IKEA meatballs made from Barbaro and Mine That Bird, or just saving some loot and scooping a paltry bag of hotdogs to munch on, this section has something for everyone to be excited about and is a essential detour to every grocery store outing.
5. Everything Else Phase: The nearly-unavoidable mad dash at the end of the trip where you’re scrambling trying to remember those less-than-important items, like soap, prescription drugs you can’t resell, and vegetables. Granted, you have filled your long-term memory with terabytes of fantasy football stats and memorizing precise Internet locations of Cake Fart sequels, but this is the time when you need to dig deep and remember, “Oh yeah, Liquiq-Plumr! That shower hasn’t drained at all since I threw up nothing except a stomach full of candy bars and vodka in it last week.”
Remember these five aspects, gorge yourself on free samples, and, above all else, try not to let any of those filthy, sticky children swarming all over the store touch you or your food.
Justin Gawel is an adult baby from Michigan. Look for more of his stuff and updates on www.justingawel.com or find him @justingawel on Twitter.
[Dude grocery shopping image via ShutterStock]