Reasons I’m Getting Married – Grocery Shopping

I like to go grocery shopping. I get to make a list and just go and take care of business. While Sylvia was away in England for a year, I had the time and to simplify and hone the process to the point that I could walk in, know where everything was, and be out within 10-15 minutes. I got so good at this dance, that I could visit two or three grocery stores in the time that it would normally take a person to get through one.

Why bother you ask? Because Jewel has a lot of great staples and a decent deli counter, but Trader Joe’s has better bread and snacks, and both Treasure Island or Whole Foods typically have far better cheese. If I need meat, I go to the Paulina Meat Market, or Gene’s Sausage Shop if I need brats. Once I find each grocery store’s strengths, I just want to get the best foodstuffs/ingredients that I could. This has become more and more pertinent for me as my income and financial management has gotten better and better, to the point that sometimes, I actually go grocery shopping and don’t look at prices except occasionally to make sure I’m not getting gouged. Having to worry more about the quality instead of the cost is such a liberating feeling, and since I go once a week, it’s a pretty regular thing that tends to just generally put me in a great mood. It doesn’t take long, I’m good at it and I can convince myself ever so sightly that I’m providing for the household, even if what I’m doing really is just an errand.

Sylvia however, hates grocery shopping. To her, it’s a boring, frustrating, bit of drudgery that she wants no part of. It’s rare that she comes with me to a grocery store because I don’t like forcing her to do something she has no interest in and it keeps my trips short since I can get in and out without us having to meet up or walk up and down the aisles since I generally know where everything is already.

A few days ago though, we were up in Evanston and we needed to pick up groceries. We knew a couple of days in advance that we’d be up that way, so we started a list of what to pick up on the way home. We hit Trader Joe’s first and I quickly realized why Sylvia hates grocery shopping. She wanted to wander the aisles looking to see everything they had. She had also not put everything on the list because, according to her, “I knew I was coming anyway, so part of the list is in my head.” I started to lose a bit of my composure as my two cardinal rules of grocery shopping weren’t even part of how she approaches the experience. Trying to maintain a list in your head is not only mentally taxing, but you’re probably going to be easily distracted when you wander up and down the aisles, focusing on everything (also mentally taxing) and wondering if it’s something you need. It’s a recipe for forgetting things you actually need as well as buying stuff you don’t actually need and spending more time in the store than necessary as well as being mentally draining. No wonder she hates grocery shopping! I tried to hurry her up so we could get out and on to the next store, but at the counter she had a bit of fun pushing my buttons by having the checkout clerk siding with her philosophy of grocery shopping.

Once we finally got out of there, she quickly realized we’d forgotten something that wasn’t on the physical list and then decided she’d rather go to the greeting card shop instead of tagging along to Jewel, which was fine by me. I managed to get through Jewel in about 10 minutes or so and without too many difficulties, but the shock of the experience at Trader Joe’s, coupled with the physical effort I’d put in helping a friend load a moving truck earlier in the day caught up to me. By the time she wandered over where I was finishing up, I was tired and kind of grumpy and just wanted to go home. Sylvia quickly clued in on this and pushed my buttons a little bit more. Anyone else pushing my buttons tends to make me kind of angry or at least annoyed, and I was kind of annoyed about it at the time, but I let it go so that we could get home without my dragging us down into an argument or any other sort of negativity.

Once we were home, I was still grumpy, but I started to seriously think about it, and I realized that Sylvia never does or says anything to be mean. She knows what my buttons are and pushes them for any number of reasons, the top two of which are 1) because it generally is funny and 2) she knows that I’m neurotic/OCD about certain things and I think it’s her way of pointing it out in a pretty supportive/funny way. She doesn’t tear me down at all, even though it would be super easy to given the things that I’m nuts about.

I mean really, how many people ascribe some Zen-level philosophy for buying groceries? It’s kind of funny and stupid when it’s put that way and that’s the heart of her and us. I can’t think of a better way to point out the flaws in your partner besides playfully pushing their buttons. Hell, I do it to her and I think that if I asked her, she’d probably feel the same way about it that I do. If you can find that kind of bond with someone that’s funny, constructive and revealing, why wouldn’t you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. I’m getting married because the woman I love makes fun of the way I grocery shop and because she’s right to poke fun at me the way she does. That’s likely more Zen than grocery shopping ever will be.

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