On the Wolfsie fridge, next to a picture of me hugging Goofy at Disney World (I was just 57 at the time) is Mary Ellen’s list of items to buy on her next trip to the supermarket. Needless to say, updates are frequent, like if we consume the rest of the mayonnaise or if the dog walks into the pantry and gobbles up all the Raisin Bran. Our beagle did this frequently. The good news is that it made him very regular.
Mary Ellen’s list is a model for all Americans who want to eat healthy. There’s skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese, broccoli, skinless chicken breasts, and granola. Here’s the question: if this is pretty much what the list always looks like, how did all the other crapola we eat end up in our kitchen? Who smuggled in fries, hard salami, donuts, and creamed spinach soufflé, which has 27 grams of fat? I’m the culprit, of course, and that’s why I avoid grocery shopping with my wife. When we go there together, I’m on a very short leash and the chances of getting treats are zero, even if I beg. I wish my wife would treat me more like a dog. I deserve it.
We always went to the store together. It confused its meaning with the driveway we took more than 40 years ago. But there’s a huge difference: After saying ‘yes’ in 1980, Mary Ellen didn’t say ‘I don’t think this is good for you’ or ‘Are you sure this is what you want? really?” and when we kissed during the service, she certainly didn’t say, “You still have a lot of that at home.”
I am guessed about everything I put in the basket. Here are some of Mary Ellen’s favorite expressions:
No one still alive eats white bread.
Yes, we need baked beans, if you don’t count the 24 cans on the pool table.
Why do you buy low fat trail mix bars? You know you’re not going to eat them.
Why do you buy cheese puffs? You know you are going to eat them.
Mary Ellen has a junk food radar and more often than not she will locate my hidden cache with just a glance. I try to slip things into the cart, but it’s hard to hide a big Tombstone pizza under a can of peaches. Having to put an item back on the shelf is the most humiliating thing that can happen to a man, at least in public.
Recently I met a friend at the grocery store. “Hey, Dick, you do a little reverse shopping, don’t you? You have to be here with the woman.
To avoid future embarrassment, I told Mary Ellen that this week I was going to go to the store alone. She said that was fine, and on Saturday morning she handed me a sheet of paper.
“Thank you, Mary Ellen, but I don’t need a shopping list.”
“Oh, that’s not a shopping list. It’s an authorization slip.