Karin and I concur on most major marital and philosophical issues: politics, personal finances, religion, family-size, professional sports, and sex. We agreed on “twice the norm,” “non-doctrinal,” “don’t keep track,” “left-leaning”, “none,” and “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Ten points if you matched a question to the correct answer….
But there is one problem area.
“One-stop shopping” was invented to describe me. I stop once, buy one item, and race home. My method is so simple I don’t need a bag. I sprint into the house, and present my trophy to Karin. Her response, as often as not, is…
“Did you see the list on the refrigerator?”
“List? What list?”
“We’re out of milk,” she says.
So, a bit deflated, I speed to the store and snag a gallon of non-fat, making the round-trip in less time than a circle-track-racer can turn a lap at Daytona. Back home, I blast through the door, slide the milk across the counter, and accelerate towards the pits—my office. Karin flags me down.
“Where’s the toothpaste?” she asks.
“Are we out?”
“IT’S ON THE LIST. DID YOU LOOK AT THE LIST?”
“No, I figured you’d tell me what we needed.”
In this manner, I make numerous round-trips. Karin tries each time to hand me the list.
I toss it on the counter.
Now that I carry a cell phone, her tactics have changed. She dials me up, hoping to tug on the electronic leash. But it’s off. So I return—with one item.
“Why do you do that?” she asks.
“Turn off your phone?”
“I’m saving the battery.”
“An emergency. Is this an emergency?”
She rolls her eyes. “You tell me. We’re out of TP.”
“OK.” I reverse course. “No problem.”
“Wait,” she says, “I’m coming with you.”
It takes me three trips before Karin decides to provide adult supervision. For her, getting away from the house is a chance to take a break AND teach me how to shop.
Extreme-Shopping Lesson One – No Worries, No Hurry.
Each time Karin selects an item, I instinctively point my cart towards the register. But Karin grasps the front of the basket, guiding us to the next isle. I try to pick up the pace, but she stops to compare two types of corn chips.
And then disaster strikes—Karin sees a friend.
Lesson Two—To Shop Is To Socialize.
We stop, and Karin talks.
It’s amazing. Karin can make an all-day trip out of buying a bag of cotton balls. As she chats, she’ll tuck the list in her purse, and spend the next 24 hours yakking away. I stand, nodding and smiling, while every red corpuscle drains from my brain.
I attempt an escape, tugging the cart to break her grip. “I can take this up to the register.”
“We’re still shopping,” Karin says, continuing to chat. Each time a conversation ends, I have an instant of hope. But no sooner do we round a corner than she sees another acquaintance, and proceeds to ask her about her health, job, and family. Karin remembers ALL THEIR NAMES. No wonder she has more friends than Justin Beiber .
I watch our ice cream melt and raw sunflower seeds sprout and grow to full height.
I consider gnawing my arm off to flee.
It must show because one of her friends chats me up.
“How’s your son?”
“OK. In fact, he’s getting off work about now.” I smile, nod, and then it hits me.
HE’LL PASS BY THE STORE.
Seizing an opening, I sneak off and call Joe.
“Can you rescue me?”
“Where are you?”
“Holiday Market. I’m pinned down in paper goods.”
“OK… but what’ll Mom think?”
I peek at Karin. She’s blissfully chatting with a crowd.
“She’ll be glad to see you,” I say. “Tell her your grabbing just one thing.”
“And what’s that?”
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. He has two humor books in print, The Doggone Christmas List and The Stupid Minivan. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County, Northern California.