Rendered Fat Content


I despise Big Box stores. They scare me with their over-sized Elizabeth Ann shopping carts and maps purporting to show the location of everything. Saturday, The Muse and I entered one, looking for a simple household appliance, and ended up wandering over most of the floor plan before we discovered that the map had been mounted sideways, and we found someone who could tell us that they displayed this particular household appliance, not in the household appliance department, but on a different floor, next to the toilet paper department. Yes, they had a toilet paper department.

On our way down, we walked by another pair of shoppers we’d earlier seen purposefully heading in the same direction we were drifting, wandering then, like us, with flagging purpose. It seemed the majority of the shoppers were lost, discouraged, looking for any exit, any way to escape the tyranny of so damned many choices. Invariably, like with the household appliance we were looking for and even eventually found, they have every model except the one I’m looking for. Every flavor of soap, shampoo, toilet paper, cat litter, you name it, every flavor except the one I’m looking for.

I prefer to shop in small stores where someone with my taste has thoughtfully winnowed out all those pretenders to display just what I’m looking for, or what I would have been looking for had I known that flavor existed. The Tyranny of Choice, The Wicked Which makes shopping an unnecessarily excruciating experience.

I suppose this opinion qualifies as apostasy in a consumer economy, but I just do not need proliferated choices. I buy the same basic stuff week in and week out. After nearly six years in this area, I can sit back and envision just where I need to go for almost everything. No shopping required. I can swoop in when I know parking will be convenient, grab and just go. I hope not to discover that they’ve discontinued my shoes again, or my jeans, or my mayonnaise. I can substitute up to a point, but I’ll usually choose to just do without if my stuff isn’t available.

New and improved translates into different and dissimilated, hardly useful at all. Who came up with the idea of fruit scented dish soap? I want my dishes to smell clean, not sticky. I fail to see the utility of shirts without pockets, pre-worn jeans, shoes with heels, and anything marketed as convenient, especially if the label pictures steamy hot food inside and it’s sold frozen.

I suppose I qualify as a picky shopper. If there’s exploratory shopping to be done, The Muse insists I stay in the car, and I bring along a book expressly for that purpose. Shopping center parking lots make excellent reading venues, and end up being a whole lot more entertaining than trying to mirror the walking cadences of the thousands inside who seemed to have barely mastered sauntering. I’m always the guy stuck behind the double wide couple who seem blithely unaware of their surroundings as half the concourse clogs up behind them, shuffling through their trail of kettle corn detritus. The Muse seems able to melt through even the thickest gaggles of giggling teens, and even somehow slip around the jitney jogging strollers with the girth of the typical Hummer. Me? I’m much better off in the car.

Sometimes, though, The Muse will accompany me on one of my more typical grab and go stops, though she sometimes mistakes these as shopping opportunities. She’ll peek and poke and even ask my opinion about something, though I have no opinions other than that I need to find an exit. Quick! At the Farm Market yesterday, I thought I’d made it clear that I was there for apples, preferable Arkansas Blacks. I knew which stall had ‘em last time we were there, so I buzzed there, found a reasonable substitute, and headed for the checkout. She’d fallen in love with a lovely large bunch of spinach and handed it to me, then took off on up the midway. I caught up with her later as she checked out every blessed stall, then made a return swoop down to the opposite end. We left with just the apples and spinach.

I guess farm markets might be the one exception to my no shopping proclivity. If the larder’s bare, I will scour. If the season’s in flux, I will rediscover old friends and occasionally even find an acceptable new acquaintance. The meat and fish markets, too, and the wine store. These seem worth some exploration, but only if there’s a purveyor I can chat with. If it’s a big box store, I enter with an exit strategy and accept no substitutions, and take no prisoners lest I become captive to the wicked which, the tyranny of choice, the stuff I cannot imagine anyone ever needing.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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