It never turns out well when I go to the fancy grocery store across town. Dick Goddard, a famous local weather personality, almost ran me down there once in his giant SUV. He was much smaller in real life than he was on TV. All I saw was his tiny shriveled head above the steering wheel as he bore down on me.
I forgave him because he liked dogs.
Every time I step through the doors of the fancy, rich people’s grocery store, I expect alarms to go off and burly men to appear out of nowhere. “That’s a nice tote bag you’ve got there,” they say, cracking their knuckles. “It’d be a shame if something…happened to it.”
I skulk towards the produce section, passing 12 different brands of kombucha, something called “ozone water”, and $3 cans of iced tea.
The apples approach on my right. Apples I don’t know if I like because I’ve never heard of them. Pink Lady? Wasn’t that a Japanese girl group in the ‘80s? Jazz? That sounds promising. Oh, they’re $5 a pound, which is like two apples.
A man with a bullhorn appears. “STEP AWAY FROM THE APPLES. NOTHING TO SEE HERE. MOVE ALONG.”
I grab some anyway. The madness is upon me. The seal has been broken. The rationalizations have begun. “I only come here once in a while, right? I deserve a $5 apple, RIGHT? Oooh, walnuts!”
My credit card begins to smolder slightly.
I wade into the vegetables. So much kale. So much broccolini, which sounds adorable, whatever it is. I assume it’s baby broccoli that was taken from its mother at birth, like baby carrots, or veal.
The misters go off, scaring the crap out of me. “My” grocery store doesn’t have misters, unless you count the kid with acne carrying a spray bottle.
What’s an heirloom tomato? It sounds old. Do I want an old tomato? They’re shaped really weird and some of them are purple. O brave new world that has such tomatoes in it. I keep moving. No mutant tomatoes for me, thanks.
I bypass the fish department with its Chilean sea bass and still-twitching octopi tentacles, and find myself in the bakery department.
This was a mistake.
You know how Superman’s weakness is kryptonite? Mine is bread. This store stocks this Ukranian something-or-other bread that has nuts and cranberries and I WOULD SELL MY MOTHER FOR A STEADY SUPPLY OF THIS BREAD.
I start to sweat. “Don’t look at the brioche,” I whisper like the junkie that I am. Maybe I can have a fresh-made buttermilk biscuit for the low, low price of $2.50 each? Joan Crawford appears out of nowhere, “NO FRESHLY-MADE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS!!”
I veer wildly to the left and blindly stumble down the aisle.
I stop in my tracks.
What is that sound? Is it…angels singing? The light here is golden, like sun breaking through clouds after a storm. Everything sparkles. I slowly turn my head.
I’m in the Oreo aisle.
Now, my regular grocery store has two kinds of Oreos. Normal Oreos, and Double Stuf Oreos.
The fancy, rich-people grocery store has essentially an entire aisle devoted to nothing but Oreos. It’s a wall of Oreos. And not just the chocolate cookie ones, but the yellow ones, too.
People are irritably asking me to move and bumping me purposely with their carts, but I’m rooted in place. I have entered Nirvana. And there are truths here that those in power don’t want us to know.
There are carrot-cake flavored Oreos.
Have I tried the carrot-cake flavored Oreos? No, because, ew. But the point is that I could if I was rich, and didn’t mind risking my hard-earned money on things like Bitcoin, and health insurance, and carrot-cake flavored Oreos.
I see that there are two different types of peanut-butter flavored Oreos: regular peanut butter and peanut butter pie. Everything goes gray and I think I might have to sit down. Birthday cake? Lemon? Mint?
Uh-oh. They’ve got Girl Scout Samoa-knockoff Oreos that are caramel and coconut. Get thee into the bag. You, too, marshmallow.
Like Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient, I promise the peanut butter Oreos that I’ll come back for them. Tears sting my eyes.
I head back for the Ukrainian bread, some full-fat Greek yogurt that I can only get here, Madagascar vanilla kefir, organic free-range eggs that come from chickens that get massaged every day by Swedish models, and 15 Lean Cuisines in flavors I’ve never had before. I grab a kombucha on the way out because I have nothing left to lose (it’s $5).
I emerge into the sunlight, blinking and penniless. I bite into an apple. It tastes like an apple. But those Oreos are going to change my life, I can feel it.