It happened to me yesterday. I wasn’t ready. I had no idea how ‘not ready,’ I was. It doesn’t matter how innocent it is. Or that someone had all the right intentions when it happened. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t even necessary for it to happen. It happened.
I went to the grocery store after the gym. When I do go grocery shopping, which is becoming less and less in a world of two-midlife-empty-nesters-who-like-to-dine-out-and socialize, I usually go after the gym.
Even though the gap in shopping equalled the bare shelves in the refrigerator, the pantry and the freezer at home, I was not in the mood to re-stock. A few things would tide us over until the weekend when we were scheduled to have breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner with friends on at least four occasions.
And then she appeared.
I was doing the usual dance with the attached carts. You know, where the first cart hugs the second cart so lovingly that you think they have just entered into a romantic relationship of young love so desperate to stay together that nothing you can do will separate them.
You start to act like Mrs. Capulet, who has found her daughter entwined in the arms of Romeo and you are yanking them apart with such gusto that you may fracture an important appendage, but you want them apart regardless of the cost.
I yanketh as hard as I can.
And anon, appears a young maiden who, with the eyes of a doe and the sympathetic voice of an angel, looking at me like I have struggled far too long in life to be suffering in such a way any longer, says: “Oh, do you need help?”
It wasn’t even what she said. Yes, you know the drill: It was the way she said it.
As a caregiver, I have said it a thousand times that way. “Oh you are struggling, let me help you. I am young, and strong, and can fix that up in a jiffy!”
She was helping an old lady.
I saw it in her eyes. I heard it in her voice.
I was stunned.
I wanted to scream: “Hey I’m wearing yoga pants, for God’s sake. I just got off the elliptical machine. I don’t even have gray hair yet!”
No matter. I was receiving the “helping verb.” (Grammarians and Catholic School kids will love that.)
My response to this, after thanking her for showing me the trick to extricating what I like to think of as the male cart from the female cart…(yep, there’s trick!), was to shop like I was a young mom of 30.
I put a huge pack of toilet paper under my cart. I grabbed a slab of brisket that weighed the same as bag of bricks. I went to the new wine and beer section in our grocery store to ‘check the prices,’ like someone who buys liquor as a matter of course for all my fun evenings. I bought $300 worth of groceries for two people who are rarely home and go out every weekend.
The good news is, I don’t have to grocery shop for a month. I know how to separate those fornicating carts by myself, and I may be a bit less condescending when I help others. Ouch, that one really hurt.