I hate shopping.
Men hate shopping. This is immutable. Okay, yes, one can easily point out special categories of exception, and woe betide me, I realise, should I errantly neglect to point this out, but for the most part, your average index male hates shopping.
Grocery shopping, being a subset of the set “shopping”, fits neatly beneath the crosshairs. Grocery shopping can represent a special kind of hell for the males of the species, most of whom struggle with domestic blindness at the best of times1, and so suffer the inherent disability of not knowing where on earth any bloody thing is in the supermarket, although over time a certain slight familiarity creeps in. Sending a man to a new supermarket, then, is very special kind of torture, ladies, eclipsing by some degrees what you think of as your most withering Look2.
One of my pet hates whilst in a busy supermarket is that you cannot pause for precious breath but some inconsiderate loon comes up and wants something on the shelf behind you and you have to bleat the standard perfunctory “Sorry” and move along. Then, no sooner have you moved than another son of a motherless goat3 comes up and….rinse, repeat….rinse, repeat….it is infuriating.
One day befell the worst of all possible circumstances; tired, hungry, running late, and having been vouchsafed a truly hideous grocery list, a portion of the entries upon which I could not visualise, let along successfully locate.
As is my wont, I was standing with my back to a shelf in an aisle, vainly scanning the shelves opposite for some item of culinary miscellany, when someone came up and politely indicated that they wanted something on the shelf behind me. I grunted my assent and moved. Not a minute later, I was accosted again. This went on. The sixth time was a dear little old lady with a kind look on her face. Sadly, I was forced to tell her what I felt she needed to hear, viz: “NO! You do NOT need the Tena Lady thingos! Piss off and leave me alone!!”
The speed of her departure belied her apparent age.
I made my way away from the shelves to the back corner of the store, to the strains of “Cleanup in Aisle Six!”, which, on reflection, I should have thought more about, as I may have made a vital connection. I needed a rest; I just needed one solitary minute without people trying to usher me left and right. I leaned gratefully up against the firehose cabinet to catch my breath.
And the bloody fire alarm went off.
I managed to hold the bastards off until I ran out of cans.
I have no idea what I am headed for after I shuffle off this mortal coil should my record of conduct be found slightly wanting, but my most cynical demons fill my mind’s eye with a plane of existence filled with garish fluorescent lighting, maddening muzak, endless shelves full of unfamiliar and largely pointless foodstuffs, a list of items so esoteric that I go crosseyed just trying to read it, a basket with wheels which will only permit motion at 45° to any propulsion applied to it, and a sad little old lady weeing on my shoes.
2. For the record, we’re not scared of your Look. We’re not. You can’t really do anything to us we’re scared of short of sneak-attack physical violence, so anything short of that is of little consequence. We just let you think we’re scared of your Look so you’ll stop there instead of doing something tiresome like throwing our things out of the window or telling us about Grey’s Anatomy.
3. Happily for my local crime statistics, my more rational synapses recognise that the people in question are actually just going about their blameless occasions, not at all possessed with the evil irritatory intent with which I privately imbue them. This does not however prevent me from thinking very poorly of them indeed. Some of them would be shocked.