WideEyedSpouse and I sat in the Mini in the only remaining spot at the far, littered end of the suburban Wegman’s supergrocery last evening. The teeming swarm at the city Weg’s where we usually shopped had been too scary to brave. I figured suburban families would already have their feasting supplies and we’d be ok out here in the hinterlands. I watched a grannie yank the last grocery cart away from a hapless young man a few car lengths away. I had a bad feeling I had miscalculated terribly.
The Spouse held up the list. I held up the grocery sack and the tire iron. We bumped fists and rolled out of the Mini in good formation. Evaporated milk, stuffing mix, jellied cranberry sauce -in-the-can, Reddi-whip, condensed mushroom soup; the critical essentials of a classic Thanksgiving. The rest of the ingredients were already at home, but without these final pieces it would just be a nice dinner, not THANKSGIVING dinner. Problem was, the ten thousand pushing into Weg’s up ahead were after the exact same items.
We squeezed into the store and passed the fresh vegetable section, thank god we didn’t need celery. Two men were down over there, their wives standing on their bodies to reach the celery remaining on the highest shelf. I saw a roiling mass of women at an endcap about 5 meters away. I could see cans behind grabbing hands and pushing bodies so it was soup, cranberry sauce, or evaporated milk.
I’ve got your back, the Spouse said in my ear as I handed him the grocery sack and tested my grip on the tire iron. I plunged in, yelling excuse me’s and ducking under arms. I saw stars when I took an elbow to the eye, and blacked out for a moment when a spikey boot heel drilled my left foot. I had no time to think, but I realized this situation was too serious for manners. I shoved the tire iron through a gap in the bodies and propped it on a shelf edge making a wall for me to squeeze in against. Something battered my shins, and I looked down. A toddler was down there sent in low, his mom pushing his diapered bottom to get him closer to the goods. I planted my foot in front of him, leaned on my tire iron prop, and grabbed a can of soup. I lofted it high and in my peripheral vision watched the Spouse’s long arms snag it. While he fought off scavengers in the back I snared a can of evaporated milk from a lower shelf and tucked out. I handed the can to the Spouse for safekeeping in the grocery sack.
We trotted quicktime past the dairy cases along the back of the store. The Spouse used his height to reach into the open door above a dithering shopper. He grabbed the first can of whipped cream he could get. I checked it as we jogged up the baking aisle. Fat free. Huh. Too bad. I looked along our back trail and considered revisiting dairy to try again. Reading my mind, the Spouse took the whipped cream and shoved it in the sack.
My foot skidded in something on the floor near the end of the aisle. It was red – cranberry sauce, we’re close I told the Spouse, pointing to the smear. He looked past me and paled. Blood, he said. I turned my head in time to see a fit woman in a Barbour jacket toss a hank of hair and scalp to the floor next to an unconscious woman in a suit. She grabbed one of the final bags of stuffing mix and a can of cranberry sauce. I wanted to send the Spouse into the hole she made in the crowd before it closed and we lost the chance at the supplies but he wouldn’t go. It’s all women, he argued, I can’t go in there hurting women, I’ll be arrested. He looked at the crowd. Besides, they’re scary.
Fine. I bounced on my toes and limbered my tire iron arm. Best to be quick, I thought, in and out. I grabbed the back of the True Religion jeans in front of me and yanked upward, hard. The woman in them shrieked and fell back, pulling at her wedgie. I rapped a khaki-clad knee lightly with the tire iron and that suburban mom went down whimpering. I stepped over her and the shelving was almost in reach. I pushed off the ground and jumped high, coming down with my arms on the shoulders of two wiry yoginis. They should have collapsed. They didn’t. They were clearly far stronger than me and I didn’t want to get into a wrestling match with these rubber bands disguised as affluent and good-looking suburban moms. I backed off and applied the tire iron: ribs on the right, ribs on the left. Hah! Both went down! – yoga doesn’t make ribs stronger. I reached for the last bag of stuffing mix with my right hand and with my left cracked the tire iron down on the wrist of a husband who had been brave enough or stupid enough to battle women for a can of cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving Eve. He screamed like a little girl and dropped the can. I caught it on its way to the linoleum floor.
I crouched low and backed out of the fray, feeling the Spouse pulling me along by my belt. I shoved the tire iron into my pants and we stepped out into the main front aisle, smiling and walking slow – acting normal so that the howling crowd didn’t sense the value of the swag in our grocery sack. We weaved through a jam of laden carts and I worried about folks buying 25 pound frozen turkeys only hours before they needed to be cooked to safe temperatures. Spouse grabbed a sack of frozen French cut green beans from one of the carts and held it to my eye. It was starting to swell shut and that along with my injured foot made us vulnerable in the crowd.
We cleared check out in only 17 minutes because Weg’s had an armed officer enforcing the 10 items or less rule in the last two checkout lanes. The Spouse zipped the grocery sack inside his coat and we headed for the Mini, frowning with deep concern. These expressions were camouflage. Thousands of hostesses still flocked the entrance to the store and we had the last of two of the essential Thanksgiving ingredients. We never would have made it to the car if we had appeared triumphant and relaxed.
The Spouse put the Mini in Sport Mode and we fled home. Now, on Thanksgiving, my eye is less swollen, the pie is in the oven, and dinner is scheduled for 5 o’clock this evening. I am smiling across the room at the WideEyedSpouse and thinking grateful thoughts about my world. Happy Thanksgiving friends. May you have much for which to be thankful.