Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shoppin' and Hatchin'

Today I went grocery shopping. And once again, the cashier commented on my purchases. “Wow, you eat so healthy. I try to eat healthy, but that stuff is so expensive!” I shrugged and said, “Well, so is cancer of the colon.”

Just kidding. I actually blushed, giggled, and mumbled some inane response like, “Well, I’m sure once I have kids I won’t buy all this stuff anymore.” Implying that I really don’t care what kind of hormones, trans fats, and chemicals I pump into my offspring, I guess.

Anyway, I’m used to cashiers commenting on my food purchases. “Wow, this is the healthiest cartload to come through here today.” “How do you make tofu?” “What does this yogurt taste like?” “What’s tem-puh? Or is it tempay? Tempee?” And, after warily examining my grocery items as if I were buying fancy, new-fangled lurnin’ and Baby Jesus in a Can: “Okay. I’m curious. Why do you buy organic anyway? I mean, is there really any difference?”

Now, I know they’re just making conversation. Being friendly. Maybe even feeling a little guilty about that platter of Oreos they had for breakfast. But it’s hard for me to imagine them commenting on a conveyer belt loaded with pork rinds and Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies if I were oh, say, morbidly obese. “Geez, do you think you need all these snacks, Fattycakes?” Or if I were purchasing lots of low-sodium products: “High blood pressure, eh?” Or dozens of bottles of booze: “Oooooh, someone’s got an intervention in their future!” Or hemorrhoid cream and Metamucil: “Pushing too hard on the ol’ shitter, huh?”

And I don’t always eat healthy. Take this morning at Perkins. I ordered hash browns, buttered toast, and two eggs, sunny-side up. But the cook must have mistaken “sunny-side up” for “cold, mucousy boobs.” Which was a real bummer.

But it reminded me of a story. When I was about five, my parents took me to visit my aunt and uncle’s farm. Probably right after I drew that picture of Long Nipple Cat and told Miss Barb about the baby boilin’. The farm turned out to be a wondrous cornucopia of domesticated animals. There were rabbits, and cows, and horses, and pigs, and—my favorite for some strange reason—chickens! To my delight and surprise the adults let me pick out some freshly-laid brown eggs from a few nests. We could take them home with us! My uncle warned me, “Now, be careful. Some of those eggs may have been fertilized.” Which I took to mean, “Some of those eggs will hatch beautiful fluffy baby chicks that you can cuddle and love and keep under the bed and call George.”

But I knew one thing for sure. Eggs don’t hatch unless the mother hen sits on them. When we got home I snuck one of the eggs from the refrigerator and placed it carefully on the sofa. I put a pillow atop the egg, and then proceeded to “sit” on the egg. Just like a good mother hen. I gently sat on that egg for over two hours, passing the time by watching Pinwheel on Nickelodeon.

But my baby chick wasn’t stirring. So I decided to ask my mom how chicken eggs hatched. Maybe I had forgotten an important step in the process. I had to play it cool, though. She had no idea I was sitting on that egg, and something told me it would be a good idea to keep my little project a secret.

“Hey mom. How do baby chicks hatch?”

I’m pretty sure my mom was cross-stitching more seventies-themed wall hangings at the time, because I seem to recall her having some kind of thread in her mouth when she answered, “The mother hen lays an egg and sits on it to keep it warm.”

I frowned. I already knew this part. “Yeah, but how does the mother chicken make the baby chicken? Like when we don’t want to eat the egg?”

Never one to muddy answers to the tough questions, she replied, “The rooster has to peck the back of the hen’s neck. That’s how they make a baby chick.”

A-ha! That baby chick was almost mine. So once again I perched carefully above the egg, this time reaching around to peck the back of my own neck repeatedly with my right index finger.

I’m pretty sure that egg ended up next to my Dad’s toast a few mornings later.

This is the kind of fond childhood memory that makes me really excited to have kids and start feeding them confusing answers to difficult questions. And Ding Dongs and Ass-Kickin’ Barbeque Popcorn with real butter flavor.


  1. I always feel I have to explain my groceries. See I go to 3 stores, 1 for organic fruits and veggies, one for canned and one for the rest of the crap.

    Well at the second "snack" store, I always feel the need to say, "Oh I go to 2 stores, I have veggies in the car. NO. Really I do! Organic, free range stuff.". They don't seem to care weather or not I'm planning on stuffing my face full of the Dortios but I DO. ~sigh~

    My g-ma had chickens and I cracked one open when I was little and it had a half formed chick in it, so eating eggs to this day makes me a little queasy. Although they do taste yummy in cake.

    Hasn't every little girl tried to hatch an egg? I did that until my mom found it a couple days later...

  2. What I get a lot of crap for is eating healthy at work: "Aimee, you don't have to write your name on that, no one is going to steal that sh*t." when I'm leaving stuff in the employee fridge. Gotta love it!

    Oh & a former coworker & I went grocery shopping during lunch a few years back. When I turned a product over to read the label, she asked me very seriously, "What are you doing?" like I was kicking puppies or something.

    Hey, do you want to go to a Jodi Picoult book signing w/me on March 16? Email me if you do!

  3. I buy a lot of organic stuff but the cahsiers at my grocerystore fall into two categories..surly or totally indifferent. That said, none of them ever have jack to say about my stuff.

    Spekaing of the long-nippled cat, I got another wacky search on my blog the other day. I think they were looking for you and got me by mistake. They're search term was "Reallly long nipples" with three l's.

  4. Holy shit! May I never post again without previewing. Check out all those typos...geez

  5. My favorite is when you're trying to get pregnant. I would rotate cashiers and eventually grocery stores so I could buy my pregnancy test and tampons in peace with some stranger commenting on the status of my hoo-ha.

    As for the baby chick, you were the best hen you could be. Don't beat yourself up.;)

  6. Oh love the egg story. I can't believe you said Pinwheel on NIK. We used to watch that all the time!!! I still remember the theme song.

  7. I'm with Iz - down here in the Deep South, no one has heard of half the things I have bought.

    My best story was at wal-hell the only place with jumbo shells for stuffed shells. THe girl says --

    Wow, BIG macaroni.

    Thanks, bebe...

  8. Better then when I go shopping...they all look at me as if I should be feeding an army....

    I am, an army of one...get over it!

    - Jon
    - Daddy Detective

  9. Down here in the wilds of NC one would have to rifle through many many yards of display space devoted to pimento cheese to find anything that smacks remotely of "organic".....
    What on earth do people DO with all that pimento cheese?
    There IS organic, you just have to voyage to the back of the store to find it.
    Good for your good eating habits!

  10. This is too funny. My son used to bag groceries and he used to "collect" stories about the oddest purchases. His favorite was a guy that came in and bought nothing but a fly swatter and deodorant. Now there's a real man for ya!

    I can't believe that egg on the couch didn't break!

    I'm off to the hooha doctor which will be infinitely more entertaining now that I've read your post!

    Waving from down under...down under your neck of the woods, that is.

  11. "cold, mucousy boobs"?

    Thanks - I will never be able to eat overeasy eggs again...


  12. Ami - I'm reading Jodi Picoult's book Vanishing Acts right now. Have you read it?

    Tiff - I had the hardest time finding anything remotely healthy in northeastern PA. Now in Northern VA I can go to Whole Foods, Trader Joes, M.O.M.'s, etc. :)

    Jess - You should see me blushing when I buy food to ship to my husband in Iraq. It's all prepackaged crap I would never eat at home, but it's all he can eat over there without a fridge! :) I'm sure I get funny looks. And yesterday at Trader Joes this old man literally stood over my basket and analyzed my food. I nudged the cart just enough away to say, "I'm not sure if you're admiring my baby or judging my food. Either way it's creeping me out." He came back later and asked where I got the soy corn dogs! LOL

  13. I was making some eggs for my mother one time (I was about 14) and got an egg with two yolks in it. I said the first thing that popped into my head:

    "Oh, look, it was twins!"

    My mother never ate another egg for the rest of her life.

    This morning? My 3 year old won't eat his eggs for the first time in his life because, and I quote, "Dinosaurs have eggs and they hatch and then they tickle."

  14. I'm such a poor grocery shopper....for example, we have a store within walking distance of our home - on my way home each day from work, I'll swing by and pick up what we're having for dinner....then I'll do it again the next day - literally, 5 different 5 minute trips rather than shopping once a week and stocking up. I know, I know...stamp "Stupid" on me.

  15. 1. “cold, mucousy boobs.” Quote of the day.

    2. I love your childhood stories! They make me feel like less of a weird-o. Not only did I try to hatch every egg I found as a youngster, I once tried to resuscitate a frog.

  16. ooooh, and give them Nerds and soda and see if they explode! fun! that will be the first thing I try with my own kids. ;)

  17. I've never been fond of eggs but when my college roommate looked at me one day, said "An egg is a chicken's period" and then passed the dutchie on the lefthand side, I stopped eating eggs completely.

  18. I was once at Walgreens buying mascara, nail polish, and pregnancy tests, and the clerk glanced at my items, picked up the mascara to ring it and looked at me like "Isn't this what got you In Trouble in the first place?"

    And "cold mucousy boobs?" I guess I'll be having my eggs scrambled from now on. Thanks, Jess.

  19. I laughed out loud at the fact that I wasn't the only one who tried to hatch an egg! Weird kids unite!

    Once I also tried force-feeding a slice of cheddar cheese to a pink, hairless baby mouse I found in the barn. I was so sad when the cats ate him later.

  20. Yeah but why do cashiers always find the need to comment? I mean, can't I just buy my stuff in peace?
    Yesterday I was behind someone who was buying Febreeze and the cashier regaled this lady all about how he hates Febreeze cuz his mom sprays it in the car because he smokes in the car but his dog doesn't like it and on and on. Please, cashiers, just let me buy my tampons, midol and chocolate in peace! :)

  21. Jess, the beginning of your post reminded me of my very first post ever where I was bitching about "Reverse Fat discrimination"...A superior at work said something about "Save some for your friends!" as I joked about taking a whole tray of sweets for myself and I thought "Uh, you wouldn't have said that if I weighed 300 lbs!"

    I guess I'm a lucky one - no cashier has ever commented on my purchases. Maybe it's because I'm always giving them the evil eye. "I dare you to judge my choice of Lean Cuisine and chardonnay, bee-atch!"

  22. Great post. I'm still laughing.

    I agree with you 100% on the healthy foods. Daily doses of hog lard, biscuits and gravy, and whole milk killed my grandfather . . . and he was only 94! Scary! hehe

  23. Cashiers have an amazing insight into our daily lives.

    I can't wait to confuse kids also. I do it already with our friend's kids. Our future kids are so going to get it.

  24. You were a funny one, weren't you? Are still, actually. I like this story.

  25. My bag is filled with fruit and seafood. I can't get enough of either. I also have a lot of froze dinners. :-)


  26. My favorite cashier comment. "Wow, size 17 pants. That's a weird size isn't it?" She said loudly. Also when I was pregnant I always received comments like "Wow, you're huge." or "You are totally having a girl." I almost stopped shopping.

  27. Jicama really throws cashiers for a loop too.

  28. that's exactly what happens anytime i buy a few items that are considered, i guess "weird-healthy" to those checkout people! isn't that interesting? i think they're in awe that we aren't eating bags upon bags of potato chips or something. ;)

    no, actually i think it's a really interesting sign of how non-mainstream real healthy eating still is.

    also, your egg story cracked. me. up. oh, wait. "cracked" heh-heh. ;)

  29. LOL at the egg hatching story. Ah, the lengths parents will go to when they want to avoid all discussions of reproduction... ;-)

  30. I have to think some cashiers are so bored out of their gourds, they have to comment on our purchases. I don't shop like you, for lots of reasons, but I get comments, too. Sometimes I think a job like that would be fun...nothing to take home with you. MOstly I think I'd start using the conveyor belt to invent new summer olympic events.

  31. oh my gosh. cold mucousy boob eggs. That one stopped me for a full 5 seconds before i could go on!

  32. I almost wish you really had said that cancer of the colon part-too funny!

  33. Great story, but that was just your first attempt at hatching an egg. I'm waiting now for you to tell us about your later sucesses.

  34. I'm sending my boyfriend a link to this post. He thinks I'm totally paranoid about people checking out my groceries. And he thinks I'm crazy for judging people by their groceries.

  35. Jess-you are so freaking hilarious. I cannot wait to hang out with you!

    What I want to know is didn't the egg get smooshed under the pillow? Didn't your mom discover dried up old egg yolk on the couch?

    Your readers are hilarious too--especially mamatulip and webmistress!

  36. You peckd your own neck. that is cute.

    another example of why I am glad I found your site. I love these stories.

  37. I believe all foods are healthful as long as you exercise and maintain proper bodyweight.

    This makes me radical. And happy.

  38. Damn. The other day, for the first time in my entire life, I had someone comment on how well I eat, just based on the items on the grocery store conveyor belt. I felt so good about it, I was considering it as a blog topic. And now you had to go and beat me to the punch...

    Loved the egg story. When we were little, my brother and I caught minnows from a creek a few hours away. We planned to keep them alive and have them as pets. But it never did work, and we were so sad. I always ended up feeling a little guilty afterward.