The worldwide pandemic has changed the way people think and behave. Take me, for instance. I have reverted to the mindset of my hunter-gatherer ancestors from Germany. Life has become a game of guile and strength to make sure my family has food to eat.
At least, that’s how it feels when I go to Kroger.
My wife is doing shopping for some other people, so I have been put in charge of the trips to the store for us. This requires planning and cunning. Like Og the Caveman in search of a woolly mammoth, I go to the grocery store with a strange mix of anxiety and adrenalin. It is man against nature!
I start by mapping out my route. I will start in produce, swing by the meat section (Og’s favorite place) and work down the aisles to the milk. Then, I’ll double back to buy ice cream at the end. This is the most important part of my hunting mission. My wife’s favorite ice cream of all time is black raspberry dark chocolate chip and I have to find some for Mother’s Day. If not, I might end up camping in the backyard like my ancestor Og.
I put my mask in place (which is kind of cool, it makes me feel kind of like an outlaw) and hit the store. I immediately run into a problem. No red peppers. So I do what any great hunter would do — I get out my cellphone and call home for instructions.
“Just buy orange ones” she says. So I grab a plastic bag for my peppers and run into another problem — I can’t get the bag open. Normally, I would lick my fingers and use them to separate the plastic, but I’m wearing a mask! Besides, if I put my fingers near my mouth I might get banished from the store. I finally get the bag open, throw the peppers in – and the bag rips and peppers go rolling all over the place. This is not a good start.
But I refuse to give up. I must have a successful hunting trip for the good of my family (not to mention my own basic food addictions). I pick up the peppers and move on.
When I get to the meat section, I find out that I can only buy two fresh meat items due to the impending meat shortage. My wife has ordered two steaks for Mother’s Day. I guess that takes care of that decision. I’ll just buy a lot of cheese and bacon to make up for it.
I always buy mozzarella cheese when I go to the store because you never know when you might have to make an emergency pizza. I have the largest mozzarella cheese supply this side of Italy. You can’t go wrong with cheese.
My plan goes pretty well as I move from aisle to aisle. Since I’m trying to buy for two weeks, so I feel justified in throwing just about everything I see into the cart. The last time I shopped, I could only buy two bread items, so this time I got all kinds of stuff — bagels and bread and a New York style coffee cake because it is the last one left and hot dog buns, which means I have to go buy hot dogs, too.
Can’t forget the cat! I have to buy cat litter, but that’s no fun so I buy a big bag of cat treats for her, too. Have to keep her morale up.
Oops! I’m almost all the way across the store when I realize I missed something on the list that is back by the produce. I have to loop all the way back, which is not very efficient, but I just pretend I’m sneaking up on a 12-point buck so the trek is worth it.
Finally, I have everything on the list (and a lot of chocolate and other stuff that wasn’t on the list) and it’s time to get the black raspberry dark chocolate chip ice cream and hit the door.
I pull into the ice cream aisle and – disaster! Panic sets in as I look at rows and rows of empty shelves. It looks like an army of 10-year-old boys just swept through the ice cream aisle like a swarm of locusts. I look at the shelf where the treasured ice cream normally is located. Nothing there. It is time to use all the basic hunting instincts I can muster. I start at one end and look at every carton of ice cream on the sparse shelves. Great hunters must have patience.
I am getting near the end and it’s looking bleak when – what is that? It is! The very last small container of black raspberry dark chocolate chip ice cream shoved in with a bunch of other flavors. I let out a cry of triumph, which attracts some interesting looks, and grab the container. No caveman getting his mammoth or Native American getting his bison or big game hunter getting his elephant ever felt as triumphant as I did when I clutched that container of ice cream.
I can return home a hero, just like Og did with his woolly mammoth. I can hardly wait until the next time I have to go out into the wild and — literally — bring back the bacon.