Lost in the supermarket

Last weekend my wife gave me some “additional responsibilities” and while that might sound dreadful to some, I’m actually the kind of guy who craves additional responsibilities at home and at work.

When you get additional responsibilities at work, it means the boss recognizes your true talents and believes that you’re “growing” as an employee, so he gives you more to do — naturally with no increase in compensation. And when you get additional responsibilities at home, it means the boss thinks you’re a slacker who isn’t doing his fair share around the house and that if you got a salary, she’d dock you.

So I’ve always believed it’s important to accept new responsibilities to show you’re industrious and dedicated and ... what’s the other word ... oh yes, exploitable.

In this case, I was a victim of circumstance. After my wife came down with shingles, I had to take the reins running the household. (If she reads this, I’m sure she’ll start ranting that I did nothing to help while she was in agony because I was too busy with more important matters, like playing Scrabble on my iPad.)

When I got up Sunday morning, a grocery list with coupons from the weekly flyer was waiting for me on the kitchen table. Now, I’ve gone grocery shopping before and I was more than willing to go again because if I didn’t go, we’d be eating Special K for breakfast, lunch and dinner and, I don’t know about you, but my appetite for grain and fiber generally ends around 8:04 a.m.

The problem is that every time I’ve gone grocery shopping, I’ve been the wingman, which means I’ve dutifully followed my wife through the aisles, pushing the cart while muttering, “Yes, Dear… No, Dear… Whatever you say, Dear … Don’t get hit in the head by that falling box of Cheerios, Dear.”

And every time I try to sneak something into the carriage, such as Ring Dings, peanut M&Ms or Twizzlers, she takes them out when I’m not looking and leaves them on the shelf with the Huggies, or replaces them with some organic whole-grain product that tastes like compressed sawdust sweetened with agave.

But this time I was in charge of this grocery mission and I drove to the very crowded supermarket, swarming with people pushing carts in every direction and rushing to get the sales items. My problems began in the produce department, where I walked back and forth, studying the different packages of romaine hearts because I couldn’t find the brand my wife wanted.

I looked at the coupon. I looked at the lettuce. I looked at the coupon again. Nothing resembled the picture, so I finally asked a lady for help and upon examining the coupon, she informed me: “You’re in the wrong store, sweetie.”

This was not a good sign but at least she called me “sweetie.”

If my wife found out, I’d never hear the end of it, so I grabbed any old bag of romaine lettuce and moved on in search of the olive bar… until I discovered there was no olive bar. Yes, I was definitely in the wrong store.

I asked for help finding gluten-free crab cakes. They didn’t exist so I bought regular, gluten-saturated crab cakes, which meant my wife wasn’t going to be eating crab cakes.

It was like being on a scavenger hunt. I made three complete rounds of the store because I had to keep going back down aisles again in order to find, in no particular order, gluten-free bagels, fat-free, lactose-free milk (I bought reduced fat instead and heard about it later), grape tomatoes, bananas, organic apples (I bought the non-organic apples and heard about it later), Greek yogurt, fat-free coffee creamer (I bought Half & Half and heard about it later), and AAA batteries (I bought AA batteries and really heard about it later).

This was harder than taking the LSATs.

The good news is I slipped in a box of Ring Dings, a jumbo bag of peanut M&Ms and some Twizzlers, which I hid in my car. I thought I was pretty slick … until my wife read the receipt.

Joe Pisani may be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.