The only reason I began to shop at Fairway was because my best friend dragged me. She went there every Saturday afternoon and I would tag along just to be with her. Saturday afternoon at Fairway is the sixth ring of hell. The aisles fill with the kind of people I hate, their only crimes ranging from a habit of contemplating the beauty of organic vegetables for way too long, to drawing the cheese guy into a lengthy discussion of rare Pyrenees goat cheeses. That, and they often grab my cart instead of their own, which means I have to go back and start all over again.
I get particularly incensed by the hordes of couples, especially those who are accompanied by an absolutely adorable and brilliant child or two. The sons I gave birth to never subjected me to this actual bit from a three year old: “Mummy! Mummy! What rhymes with orange? Nothing, mummy!” Nothing, mummy!” As for my husband he considers shopping a chore and he would think I had lost it if I asked him which of four brands of shortbread cookies we should buy. He doesn’t understand the desire for heritage chickens or the preference of French lemonade over Coke. If he went with me, I’m pretty sure we’d drive directly to a bar. And he doesn’t even drink.
My friend used to say that by the time I got to the checkout counter, I was like a rabid dog, snapping and snarling. She said I scared her and laughed at my unreasonable irritation. Back home, my husband would point out that I spent $150 over our grocery budget because, just like the people who make me snarl, I have fallen for the need of Pyrenees goat cheese and freshly baked shortbread. I feel guilty and mean spirit. I tell him I have to go lie down and he says something like “maybe you shouldn’t go there anymore.”
I am no longer friends with my best friend—that’s a story in itself. But I still go to Fairway and I still snarl. Recently, my husband said he would consider going with me: he was curious to see what this hellhole was like and why I continue to go now that friendship doesn’t come into play. I thought about it for a second. We have been married for a long time and he has seen me at my pathetic worse. But Fairway? Among all the other couples? We wouldn’t make it anywhere near the checkout counter.