Raquel goes to the grocery store

Winter break is upon me and I have over a month off, a fact I plan to exploit in everything I do. I got into South Georgia five days before Christmas and then two days after Christmas I went to my grandparents’ house In Virginia for New Year’s. Now, in the new year and the new decade, I am back in my hometown of Valdosta, where I sleep in as late as I want while my parents go to work.

I’ve spent the break watching “Russian Doll” on Netflix because I love watching dysfunctional-woman shows, where the main character is a thirty-something year old wild, debaucherous woman who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and sleeps around like she’s at Woodstock. “Fleabag” and “Russian Doll” make me want to chainsmoke, playfully ruin people’s lives, be the family black sheep, and have a dark past. 

Instead of doing any of those things, I have been running hot bubble baths, lighting my Freddie Mercury candle, and playing Billy Joel in the bathtub. In other words, I’ve been spending my winter break partying like a 35 year old woman who has just sent her kids to her parent’s house for the weekend. I have to take advantage of the bathtub I have while I am here in Valdosta, because I don’t trust the one in my communal dorm up at college. I could bleach that bathtub before using it and still get HPV. 

Normally, I listen to Prince in the bathtub so that I can feel like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” but now I’m going through a serious Billy Joel kick. I’m also going through a Britney Spears phase, but I’m just going to pretend like I’m not.  

Instead of sitting around all day listening to “Uptown Girl” on repeat and watching shows about women who don’t have their lives together, I decided to cook dinner for my family. The idea was to cook dinner using a recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook “Cravings”, the only cookbook a gen-z-er can name with any certainty. It seemed like the perfect way to be productive while still relaxing. Cooking recreationally is a constructive and enjoyable task. Cooking because you have to is just a monotonous chore. 

The plan was to cook a well-balanced meal, that consisted of zero vegetables, and was just steak tips and pasta. The first thing that went wrong was the fact that I could not find the shopping carts. I went straight to where they were, saw that they weren’t there, thought I was in the “Twilight Zone,” and then found them a few feet away. I had to turn around an entire corner to find them. Ridiculous. You move away and they move everything. The next thing that went wrong was that I realized that I left my grocery list at home. I filled it out the night before and consulted with my mother to make sure that we already owned ingredients such as salt and butter. As it turns out, we did. 

First, I went around to the meat section and asked a woman who did not work there, which one was the New York Strip. She found it for me and I explained to her that I was cooking dinner for my family that night and only acting like I knew what I was doing. I trotted over to the dairy section and asked a woman who actually did work there where the creamy, not crumbled, bleu cheese was and where the block, not grated, parmesan cheese was. She said that if those were anywhere, then they’d be in the other dairy section, on the other side of the store. I went to that dairy section and asked another person who worked there where the cheese was. In the pasta aisle, held up a package of pasta and asked a random guy, who also didn’t work there, if he thought that there were 12 ounces of linguine in there. He pointed out to me the fact that the box said it had 16 ounces in it. 

Then I tried to find the bacon, which was the biggest dumpster fire of the day. I lurked around the seafood counter, the one place I shouldn’t have been due to my potent seafood allergy, and I asked the man operating it where the bacon was. He pointed further on down from where I was standing. I scanned the area for longer than I am proud of, and still didn’t find it. 

Then I bumped into some of my old friends from high school, who helped me find it, but it was pre-cooked Jimmy Dean bacon and I did not know how to say that I was looking for something else. I gave up and went to the vegetable aisle, where I bothered yet another man who did not work there by asking him, and I quote, “so which of these green things is the arugula?” He told me that that was probably in the salad aisle right beside us, and he tried to help me look.

It wasn’t there so I asked a person who worked there who straight up said “I don’t work in this section.” I then strolled over to a different section, where I creepily maneuvered behind a different guy who worked there, and debated whether or not I should stop and ask him a question; the first ounce of restraint I displayed all day. When I did finally ask the question, I probably could not have come up with a weirder way to do it. I held up the bacon box and then I held up the packaged steak.

I said, “Can I get bacon that is packaged more like this (the steak) than like this? (the bacon).” Raw. The word I was looking for was raw. He pointed me to the same direction that I was in the last time. I also asked him if he knew where the baby arugula was. He had no idea what that was. I went back to the bacon section, where I met the girl who told me where the cheese was in the beginning, and she asked me, “Did you find what you were looking for.” I said, “Yes but now I am looking for the bacon.” That was when she reached out in front of her, grabbed the bacon, and handed it to me. I had been staring at it the whole time.

I left after that with a store-bought cake and no arugula, because who needs vegetables anyway? There is absolutely no way that those employees didn’t all talk mad shit about me. I could honestly hear just one of them saying, “Hey did you see that girl in the leather jacket who looked about eighteen and acted like she had never been in a grocery store before? She doesn’t have her life together.”

It’s true that I could have bought the six things that I got in under an hour had I just looked at the signs and read the labels on the food, but I prefer to go straight to the experts. It’s like how men don’t want to ask for directions because they insist that they know where they’re going. If you just asked for directions in the first place, then you’d get where you’re going faster. In the end I went home and made my pasta and steak, both of which blew my family away. Then, as we ate, we watched You’ve Got Mail for the hundredth time. It was all a rare fleeting moment of productivity from yours truly.

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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