There's someone else who knows more about you than all those people put together. They know when you're depressed but trying to hide it. They know when you're sick, just gone through a break-up, or are just trying to lose weight. They know when you think you might be pregnant, or have an embarrassing "itch."
Who are these people, you ask? Grocery store clerks. Yep. I can undoubtedly say Florence at Raley's knows just about everything about me. She knows a lot about other people, too. The woman could write her own gossip column. I'm just glad she doesn't.
Right now she knows I'm fighting yet another cold . . . as evidenced by the two boxes of Kleenex, DayQuil, NyQuil and throat lozenges I purchased in her line two days ago. She knew when I had a particularly stressful week when I had the extra big bottle of tequila and margarita mix. She knew when I was on a low-carb diet, thanks to the $300 of overpriced low-carb snacks I bought. And she knew when I purchased the 10 loaves of French bread I had embraced carbs - and my fat - again.
What you buy at the grocery store says a lot about you, and sometimes it's a little embarrassing. Take, for example, the teenager who was in line behind me the other day. I glanced over at his pile and saw two boxes of Lucky Charms, a tube of Chapstick, and a box of condoms. I could pretty much guess how he hoped the rest of his evening played out. Somewhere out there was a teenage girl who loved sugary cereal, leprechauns and smooth lips. Although if you still eat Lucky Charms you probably aren't old enough or mature enough to have sex.
I also remember being in line with a harried mother, who, amid the pile of diapers, formula and baby-wipes, had thrown in four boxes of condoms. When she saw me looking at her groceries, she just shrugged. She looked too tired to be embarrassed. At least she was taking control of the situation.
We've all revealed details about ourselves in grocery store lines. I've been known to throw 50 pounds of assorted chocolate around a box of Pamprin - a sure sign to Florence to just get me through the line quickly, before I start snarling or beating on other customers.
Before I was married, you could always tell if I was having boyfriend troubles not only by the extra large bottle of tequila, but the two cartons of Ben and Jerry's and the box of Kleenex. As an impulse buy, I may even grab the latest issue of Cosmo if it had a prominent article on "Why men suck."
And you could always tell I had a new boyfriend I was trying to impress when I had some expensive steaks I couldn't afford, fresh vegetables (which I would never purchase normally), ingredients for home-made apple pie, some stinky candles, and the latest issue of Bon Appetit so I would know how to make that apple pie.
By contrast, girl's night usually meant at least four bottles of wine, some new nail polish or hair dye, and an entire cheese cake. No need to impress your best buds with a four course meal when just dessert and a makeover will do.
When I was single, I also used the grocery line to find single men. No married man, unless his wife had recently left him or went to visit her mother, would be found in a grocery line with four Hungry Man dinners and a 12-pack. What kind of beer they bought also reflected their level of sophistication. I found it to be a good rule of thumb to avoid the 40-ounce beer guy. Budweiser guy or animal beer guy was a borderline choice, depending on how long it had been since your last date. Heineken or Newcastle, on the other hand, were definite keepers.
Our groceries are windows into our souls. Because of that, I'd like to take the time to publicly thank Florence, and other grocery clerks like her, who see our secrets every day, and manage to suppress a smirk or a grin and get us through the line with the least embarrassment possible. The next bottle of tequila or pint of Ben and Jerry's is for you. Just don't tell anyone.
****** Tell me about *your* most revealing grocery store purchase. Go ahead ... don't be shy*****