Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mamabinladen and the Shopping Expedition

Emotional terrorists. You must have run into them. The ones that try to hold you hostage with guilt. Everything from who you link to on your webpages to doing favors.

After 53 years, it comes as no surprise that Ma is an emotional terrorist, Mamabinladen. “No one does anything for me.” Her hallmark motto. So I don’t pay too much attention when Ma has me in her emotional gunsights, but it does chap me when she drives her spurs into the grandchildren.

Tuesday last, I was to take the Weebles to my favorite destination and activity, grocery shopping at The Mahket. Before I left my house, I took a dose of Tylenol and asked my Young One if she wanted to tag along. I already knew what the answer would be, but asked out of courtesy. After all, what teen wanted to spend three hours standing by the meat cases watching the blood in the packages congeal?

I arrived at the Weebles after I dropped The Eldest off at work. Dad answered the door with a big smile on his face, a huge hug for me, happy to see me. He announced my arrival at the same time I shouted “I’m here”, and I sat down to wait for Ma to finish dithering. Dad and I chatted.

After twenty minutes, she came out to the livingroom and took note of me.

“You didn’t tell me you were here!” Meaning I didn’t go into her room, genuflect and kiss her…hand.

“Where’s The Young One?”

“She’s home.”

“How come she didn’t come with you?”

I tried to hold my patience in check as I waited for Ma to finish.

“She didn’t want to come and visit her grandma? She doesn’t love me.”


“She’s a teen. She’s got her own life and things to do.”

“It’s too much to ask for them to come visit their grandmother…”

Emotional terrorists. They force you to give explanations or apologies. I was in no mood to do either.

“I had birthday cards for the girls.”

That translated into if they don’t come to visit, they don’t get the money in the cards.

“Oh for Chr…” I could feel my voice rising in tempo to the throbbing of my blood pressure. “Are we going to The Mahket, or not?”

Ma grumbled as she made her way down the front steps to the car.

Dad just kept shaking his head with that dear-Lord-take-me-now-look.

It was a quiet ride to the Mahket. Thank God. It was the end of the month, so the store was busy, but not overly crowded with elders spending their social security checks. I had my choice of handicap parking spaces.

Dad ran to the front door of the store, went inside and brought out the scooter for Ma. I returned her walker to the car and went back to the store. Dad was feeding soda cans into the return machine.

“Tell her, I’ll get the bread,” he said, and he handed me a grocery list. The grocery list makes me laugh. Ma has bought the same produce and meats every time we’ve made the trip for the last two years.

I sprinted ahead to see Ma by the bread display. It was on sale, two loaves of giant sandwich loaf for one dollar.

“Get twenty loaves,” Ma snapped at me.

I was going to say something, but decided to keep my pie hole shut. I counted out twenty loaves of bread and completely filled the double bicycle sized basket on the front of Ma’s scooter.

Go ‘head. See where you’re going to put the produce.

The thought must have crossed Ma’s mind because she sat blinking her eyes at the bread.

Sure, I could have gotten a carriage and put the bread in it, but I refuse to push around a carriage. I have enough problems getting items for Ma and helping her maneuver the scooter without pushing a carriage into the mix. An extra cart would also mean extra time to fill. A three hour trip to the grocery store from start to finish is long enough. Thank you very much.

Dad came up behind us, saw Ma with the bread, and he started to sputter.

“I told her, I’d get the bread!”

I held up my hand signaling fussing was futile. I offloaded the bread from Ma’s basket to Dad’s carriage.

“We’re being punished,” I told him.

“Punished? Why?”

“Because The Young One didn’t want to come, Ma is going to punish us.”

He mumbled something that sounded like justifiable and ended with homicide.

Ma toodled off to produce with me trailing behind. She came to an endcap of bagels.

“Get me two bags of the raisin ones.”

Ma was more pleasant when we got to produce. She complained about the high prices while I sympathetically nodded and un-huhed in the right places.

She sent me to get a bag of carrots while she wheeled over to inspect some zucchini. When I got back she was leaning over trying to reach the squash when a small one, took a header.

Another shopper was trying to get between Ma and the scooter so she could rescue the poor little squash. The woman looked over to me.

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll take care of it.”

“Are you together?”


I got between Ma and the cart, retrieved the squash, gave it Last Rites, and sadly set it aside from the rest of its family.

Ma had moved on to eggplant. She reached over and the eggplant mountain shifted and one started a slide.

I lunged with my hand outstretched. Safe!

“Get me the eggplant on top. Not that one. No, over. There. Your cousin came to visit me last week. She said she’s coming every week to visit, and she would take me where I wanted to go.”

This snack of guilt was meant to get a rise out of me.

“That’s nice.” One three hour trip to the Mahket, and Ma wouldn’t see hide nor hair of that girl.

After we finished Produce, Ma made her way to the meat counter.

“Wait, do you need frozen vegetables?”


“Well, that aisle is here. Let’s go get them so we don’t have to come back.”

The Frozen Foods Manager and a helper were unpacking cases as Ma whipped up the aisle.

“How ya doin?” he asked.

“Fine, thanks. You?”

“Couldn’t be better.” He gave me a wide happy to see you smile. Happy to see me because the last trip I made to The Mahket, he helped me get Ma the items she wanted.

The manager stayed busy while I dove into the cases. My hands were blue, my teeth chattering. It was quite nipply in the aisle.

Coming out of frozen foods on the way to meat, we met Dad. He caught sight of the two packages of bagels.

“I can get those cheaper at The Building.”

“You can?” Ma queried. The Weebles launched into a cost discussion about the bagels.

“Get those out of there,” he whispered to me. “I told her not to go overboard, and I can get them cheaper.”

This type of logic just eludes me. Each bag of bagels wasn’t more than $2.00. Looking at what was piled in Dad’s carriage and Ma’s basket, I figured he was close to $200. In order to get to The Building for the cheaper bagels, he would have to walk to the store. I’m thinking, you’re here. You’ve already spent a good $200. What’s another $4?

It’s the same logic he used on me when I suggested, once in a while he could pay the Senior Van $2 round trip to take him where he wanted to go.

“But that would cost me money!” he said indignantly.

Yes, and I get my gas for free. What would you do if you had your car? Whiz into the tank? You’d still have to pay for gas and the $4 trip by the van is cheaper than burning my gas.
What would they do if dropped dead?

I shook my head trying to grasp the logic as I struggled to remove the bagels. Bagels out, I headed to the other end of the store to return them. I hadn’t done my daily mile on the treadmill figuring that a few laps around the store would more than make up for skipping my morning

When I got back, Ma was just beginning the blessing of the meat. The ritual went quickly as Ma was not happy with the high cost of the meat.

They turned to check out, and I happily skipped out to sit in the car. There would be a 15 or 20 minute wait as the Weebles got through the check out. I called Himself on my cellphone to pass the time.

“I usually pull the car up in the fire lane to load the groceries,” he said.

My thought had been to punish Ma by making her drive the scooter across the drive to the handicap space. Considering she looks neither right nor left as she enters the crosswalk, I decided like Himself I should be generous even though I felt more like Grace Off!

“Okay, I’ll see you in a couple of hours,” I cheerfully told him and hung up. I caught sight of Dad, got out of the car, and signaled for him to wait while I moved the car.

Ma was still on the scooter. She had her checkbook out and was writing checks. No, not for Auntie Rose and the rest of the scammers, but birthday money for the girls and myself.

Dad was beaming as he folded the cash register receipt. “We did pretty good. I thought she had spent close to $300, but she only spent $212”

Four dollars more would have saved you a long walk for bagels.

I smiled and began taking the bundles out of Ma’s basket. She had 4 paper bags with the loaves of bread. I put them in the back seat so they wouldn’t be crushed.

Dad had emptied his carriage, and I was about to close the tailgate hatch when I noticed the cargo bay was halfway loaded.

“Dad, where’s the other carriage?”

“There’s no other carriage; this is it.”

I rummaged through a couple of bags. I had packed twenty loaves of bread in the back seat along with four dozen eggs. There were two gallons of milk and a gallon of orange juice.

“There has to be more. Ma bought vegetables. There’s no vegetables and no meat. You bought laundry detergent and a gallon of bleach. Where are they? All you have in the car is twenty loaves of bread.”

He looked at me horror stricken, a deer frozen in the headlights.
To Be Continued....


Nutterone said...

TBC? That's just MEAN! A cliff hanger on a blog? I think there's a rule! Get back here!

Alesia said...

There is indeed a rule about cliff hangers on blogs - and I believe it's a mortal sin as well. WTF?

Did a rival gang of Weebles steal the second cart? Did Ma plow into it with the scooter and send it careening into the previously spared but now destroyed eggplant pyramid?! Did produce die a horrible death?!? Were bread products squished beyond recognition?!?!

What? WhAt? WHAT???

Nutterone said...

ok, it just occured to me as I was dumping an old loaf of bread... What on Earth do TWO people do with TWENTY loaves of bread?

Erica Vetsch said...


And you're so right about the emotional blackmail...o-Mamabinladin.