Monday night, there I was, the start of a new week and the supply of fresh food is running dangerously low. Two triathletes in one house training for Ironman this could be a critical situation. The day before I had completely ignored my coach’s warning to go grocery shopping now. I kept hearing it throughout the day but still I put it off. And on Monday I sat there torn between watching the Tour de France or for the rest of the week watching my husband make a meal out of corn chips and salsa while I opened the pantry door over and over again as if that would make food magically appear.
Fine, I decide to go. But not without visually-polluting protest. Hey, when you’re small like me that’s all you have. Yes, I am the woman in the grocery store at 8 pm on a Monday night wearing flip-flops, running shorts, a muddy buddy t-shirt, and hair piled high on head. If you’re lucky I’ll cover that mess of wet hair with a hat. I have goggle marks under my eyes, the smell of chlorine on my skin, scrapes on my legs from running off trail in desperate moments of need-bathroom-NOW.
Chris offered to go with me but then declined, offered again, then refused, then couldn’t make up his mind. At this point, he is cautious of me traveling to coffee shops or grocery stores on my own since I always seem to return with some story of some man’s siren song in the form of casual flirting or small talk. But really he has nothing to worry about. After all any man drawn to red running shorts and the scent of chlorine is also probably still living at home with his mom and camping out in an early line for an i-phone.
But there I was, making a quick solo stop at Trader Joe’s. Hello Trader Joe’s. It’s been some time. About a week. You and I are going to get very friendly this summer. We’re going to be best friends. But mind you I will not be the best of friends. I will just use you for your stocked up shelves and your sensibly cheap dried goods. I will curse you for marking up the milk but then make peace with you when you offer me eggs for 99 cents. I will eat you alive at times, and leave you bare but then come back next week for more. And you will let me in because you, like any store, are a greedy money whore.
I get through the store in record time, a whirl of a wheeled cart flying through the aisles selecting impeccably good sources of proteins, carbs, and freshness for the week ahead. I ignore the clerk that shouted barracuda at me and started danced as the song came on the radio. Not sure if he was looking for a dancing partner or a laugh but either way I didn’t have time. There was work to do, raisins, arugala, tempeh, yogurt, bread, and beans to buy. I bag my own groceries and go back to the car. Twenty minutes later – record time.
It is pouring rain, and I put the key in the back hatch door of the car. Nothing. Strange, I look at the key, try again. Nothing. I try the driver’s door and the same thing. The key won’t turn.
I take a look at the key and at that moment realize I have taken an imposter key. How did I get to the store in the first place with an imposter key? Because I used the correct key which is now inside of the car. Since we spend so much time running or biking from our car we cannot carry a big set of jingly keys. So we leave a spare single key in the car. When I went into the store, I took the (imposter) spare since I was not carrying a purse. And a single spare key fits much better inside the jog bra than a jingly set (in my case, sadly the jingly set refers just to keys). Usually a foolproof plan. Unless of course someone replaces the spare with an imposter key.
Of all nights. I was spending time I really didn’t have, I really needed to be in bed in less than an hour, and it was pouring rain. Add on top of that the fact that I am about 5 miles from home, with no cell phone, and $97 worth of groceries to my name. I was screwed – actually sqrwd with a q and no vowels because when you are really up shit creek you don’t have time to fully spell.
I wheel my cart back into the store and beg them to let me use the phone. I call Chris but there is no answer. This does not surprise me because when I left he was in the garage working on the bikes. Which meant his phone was probably inside. I think about where I last saw his pants since his phone is usually in his pants. The pants were on the living room floor. Which meant his pants were probably ringing and vibrating over and over again with him outside. And then I thought about it - if his pants were inside and he was outside that meant I had no idea if he was even wearing pants.
I call my mom. My always there, always waiting by the phone, checking her caller ID, listening to her messages, forever available and looking for me mom. Reliable, dependable, waiting, and tonight…..not there.
I try Chris again, and again. 10 minutes have gone by and the clerk behind the counter is looking at me like get off the phone. I became slightly frustrated because imposter key has husband written all over it. He who is manager in department of mishandled, misdirected, misplaced keys. He who leaves keys in pockets, cars, houses, washing machines, laundry baskets, and bags. He who has know something about this but can't tell me because he is not answering his phone.
The clerk behind the counter was getting restless about her phone. The store was getting ready to close. I had visions of myself pushing the shopping cart down Ogden Avenue but realized that wouldn’t be safe and not a good training choice. After all, I was wearing flip flops – the kiss of death for Ironman-in-training feet where every mile beyond the training mile feels like hell.
Then I remembered something. The phone number of a very good friend. She doesn’t live nearby but she is certain to answer to her phone. And when she did I begged her to pick me and my groceries up to take us home.
I waited outside by the carts. I watched the time pass, as well as many shoppers pass in and out of the doors. Standing there, I noticed a sign that said “Trader Joe’s – A Real Shopping Adventure” and I couldn’t agree more. Except this wasn’t exactly the shopping adventure I was looking for.
Twenty-five minutes later, my friend arrived and we were on my way home. When I got there, Chris was thoroughly confused and said “why didn’t you call”. Hey, champ, check your pants. Moreover, why aren’t you wearing them and what do you have on?
Chris and I drove back to the store to get my car. On the way there I asked how long would have passed before Chris started to get concerned. I had a time in my mind, but wanted to hear what he said.
“11 pm,” he said, explaining that disappearing for long periods of time wouldn’t be unlike me and even if I didn’t come home he might just chalk it up to a sudden need to be alone. “11 pm,” he added, “if at all, maybe the next morning or at work the next day.”
So at that moment I created new marriage law:
If wife should leave the house later than 7 pm claiming to go to the grocery store and does not return by 10:15 pm, husband should then visit all Trader Joe’s in the 5 mile radius in order to determine if wife is standing by the shopping carts, waiting out the rain, with groceries slowly melting by way of imposter key held in her hand.
If married, it pays to become versed in the writing of marriage law, because you just might find that one day one law will save your day. Or your rainy night. But it won't solve the problem completely - still no one has admitted to how the imposter key got into the car in the first place. But law is at least a start.
And as long as we're talking about laws, after going home at lunch I enacted another law today:
If wife ever finds husband with an electric mixer inside of a peanut butter jar and peanut butter electrically mixed outside of the jar all over the sink, the cabinets, and the white carpet then wife has permission to beat husband silly with the mixer whisk.
I love my Chris.