Seltzer Blues

Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:35 AM

A SLICE-OF-LIFE I WROTE A FEW YEARS BACK

Men may be inherently poor shoppers. Let me explain...

My wife and I have what is called by the politically correct, “nontraditional roles”. That is, since I am a writer and performer (read unemployed) and she works in a Bridal Salon at a major department store, we have reversed the traditional positions. (I not talking about anything intimate). I have become the keeper of the house, while she is the “breadwinner”.

This is not a role that I am totally inexperienced with. My father was a house husband (read unemployed) when I was a boy, and totally inept at the task. He couldn’t cook, clean, or even do a load of laundry because this was, and I’m quoting here, “Woman’s work”. As a child, I was frightened by the image that if my father did any of these chores, he would make a horrible noise and transform into a woman (albeit an unattractive one).

Therefore, when my wife and I decided to try this “role reversal,” I was eager to make up for my father, as well as any and all males by succeeding as no man before me in keeping the home neat, dishes sparkling, and healthy meals on the table.

That lasted about two weeks, then reality set in. 

“Hey”, I realized, “this isn’t fun, and it never goes away.” 

But, it’s more than that. I think women just are able to remember things a lot better than men. My wife can remember birthdays, anniversaries, and what I said during our last fight, as if it is engraved permanently in her mind. (“I said that?” is my reply.)

Take the shopping, which I have tried to take over. I get to the store and cannot remember what I need. This could be because, unlike an intelligent and prepared woman— who would bring a list, I do this task in the traditional male way. This consists of walking up and down aisles, guessing what we need. This has led to us having an abundance of olives and peanut butter, while we lack cream and eggs on a permanent basis. 

Using this technique, I try to get enough food to make the evening meal. To actually purchase food for the week would be much too large a commitment, and possibly burn out my frontal lobe. Of course, last winter, more than once we were snowed in without enough food for the cat, let alone an actual meal for us. (I considered eating the cat— a delicacy in China.)

But my wife, with some amazing built-in nesting instinct, can plan meals into 2020, and does huge shoppings costing hundreds of dollars, eliminating the risk of running out of toilet paper or paper towels before the year 2018.

She is trying to help me be a better shopper. Why, just the other day, we were low on bananas. “Honey,” she said, “if you get bananas today, could you pick up a case of seltzer?”

I knew she said it. I was looking right at her lips and watched them move. I even reflected, “What a good idea”.

Of course, when I arrived at the store, I was lucky to remember the bananas. I walked around the store for a half an hour, hoping, meditating, and praying that her words would come back to me. I knew it was something we used— and that we were out of it. I bought several other things I believed we were low on: peanut butter and olives. I thought it would cause an unused synapse to flame into sudden revelation, causing me to shout “Eureka”, and do a victory dance to the correct aisle. 

No luck.

In fact, at checkout, the lady behind the cash register was a little concerned to see a grown man banging his head with a banana while repeating, “I know there’s something else,” over and over.

Upon arriving home I found the empty case of seltzer and in a flash— I remembered. Oh yeah— seltzer. I also found six jars of peanut butter, and eight jars of olives.

I hope to have better luck tomorrow.

Provided I can remember where the supermarket is between my house and—

What was I looking for, again?

Oh yeah, peanut butter and olives!