After observing what feels like a million people doing their grocery shopping, I have come to the conclusion that some people consider shopping a family activity. I am guessing that one spouse wants the other to go with/take the other shopping. Sometimes that makes two; sometimes it’s two + the children (most states have rules against leaving small children alone – some concern about the children setting the house on fire or drowning one another). The two-adult scenario is the one I am going to talk about.
First, a disclaimer: My husband and I try to never shop together. Early in our marriage (of course), we wanted to do everything together. Huge mistake. He is a comparison shopper and I want to get in and out as fast as possible. As long as the food looks like it will last until we eat it and the cans don’t bulge, I’m good. I think my time is worth more than knowing that we saved $0.25 on lima beans. (This could possibly be an ego thing on my part.) We decided early on that “divorce due to shopping style” would not look good on the papers going to the judge.
However, there are some reasons to consider that togetherness is the lesser of two evils. I have heard many variations of “My wife will kill me/yell at me if I don’t get the right kind.” They usually get on their phone just to make sure. Most times, it means he will recite the names of everything in that section so she can decide. We are talking about cheese. If you have this issue, perhaps you should buy something, apologize and tell her that you made a mistake. Generally men will use this ploy in the hope that their spouse will get so frustrated that she will just do it herself next time. I have heard that this tactic is also used for dish washing, doing the laundry, and picking up the kids from wherever. It does not appear to work as well for women. They seem to tend more toward telling you that it’s OK, just write down what I want next time so you don’t make the same mistake. A variation on this is for the man to ask the kids what type mom gets, that way he can blame the child. After all, mom wouldn’t expect little Amy to know. But she would expect dad to know what type of mild he drinks. So it can backfire.
I have two favorites: 1) I can’t read my wife’s handwriting, can you? and 2) which type do you think my family/friends would prefer (generally a woman asking)? If you have been living with the woman, why would anyone be able to read what she has written better than you can? Between the two of us, we came up with something. Hopefully it was close to what she wanted (he didn’t have a phone). For the women, I generally tell them what I would buy. I always hope that their tastes are similar to mine, they write it off as a bad recipe, or they are too polite to say anything. I always wonder if the response is something like, “Ewww, this is terrible!! What were you thinking? I’m not eating that!” But since I don’t see them again, it’s not really my problem.
As far as reasons to not take anyone with you, my favorite is the couple who were looking for a block of cheese. He asks her if something OK. She replies, “Not that kind. I want Montgomery Jack.” I tell the man that we don’t sell Montgomery Jack. He tells her. She replies, “I only want Montgomery Jack.” I tell him that I’ve never heard of Montgomery Jack cheese, maybe she wants Monterey Jack. So he asks her if that is OK. She says, “I ONLY want Montgomery Jack. We’re going to have to go to the other store.” He looks at me and shrugs. I don’t know where she got it. I couldn’t find anyone who had heard of it. According to both Wikipedia and Google, it doesn’t exist. I’m guessing that if he had taken the Monterey Jack home and given her a piece without showing her the label, she would have been fine. Or thrown it at him.
Or maybe the couple who stood at the end of the aisle, and he asked his wife whether she wanted yogurt. She told him that she had gotten it a couple of aisles back. He asked her, “So why are we at this aisle?” She replies, “Why do you think we’re here? I want cheese.” He says, “How the hell would I know what you want?” She says, “I’m going to look for what I want.” He starts to follow her down the aisle. She looks annoyed. I tell her all men are like that. (Probably not, but it is my opinion on many occasions.)
Finally, the woman picks up something. He says, “We should get this kind.” She says, “But I don’t like that kind.” “But it’s cheaper.” “But I don’t like it.” He says fine and frowns as she throws it in the cart. She should have said that it wouldn’t really be cheaper because he would have to throw it out when she wouldn’t eat it and it got moldy.
So I don’t really have any advice. However, if you resemble any of these people, you might want to remember that someone might be watching. Then decide whether you might be offended if one of your friends reads it on a blog and says, “you know, that sounds just like you and Josh.”