Friday, January 29, 2010

costco with my mother (m)

Imagine you are on some game show on television where the sole objective is to see how much money you can save while shopping for basics.

That's what it's like to go to the store with my mother.

I took her to Costco yesterday.  All I needed was bottled water.  I buy the 35-packs of Poland Springs.  When I'm alone, I can be in and out of Costco in 20 minutes these days.  I get my cart, pop in 3 cases of water, steer clear of the food samples, spend a few minutes in the book section, and then head to checkout.

I have learned over these 50+ years on this earth that, when I am with my mother, the best coping strategy is to abandon my own agenda.

My mother is almost 85 years old.  She looks younger than that (I color her hair), is in reasonably good health (we're watching her heart), but has bad knees.  Give her a shopping cart to lean on and she can fly!

She takes off the minute we get past the guy checking membership IDs.  I know her route--straight to the baked goods section.  I slow down by the books and she scowls "you have enough books."  Seriously.

After she's sampled everything they offer (including things she knows she hates, like the hickory-smoked pulled pork which she spits out and declares to be "terrible" loud enough for everyone in a ten-mile radius to hear), she zeroes in on the sale items.  Next thing you know, my cart is filled with 6 cases of water (I can barely move it), Bounty paper towels, Scott toilet tissue and Bounty paper napkins (you save another $3.50 per pack with the in-store coupon).  By this point, not only can I not move the cart, I can't see an inch in front of me.

Thinking we're done, I move forward.  It is like driving a car during a whiteout.  I can't see, but I keep moving for fear if I stop, someone will crash into me.  CRASH.  Don't I bang into her?

She has stopped for samples of David's cheesecakes.  Sweets are her weakness.   After she's sampled three of the flavors, she tells me to "get some."  Basically, she wants seconds. "Absolutely not...I can't eat that stuff on my diet,"  I say.   I keep moving past her.  She's not happy.

After we load up on ketchup (it's on sale and, apparently, "summer's coming" she says), Lysol disinfectant (a two-year supply) and Tide detergent (enough to launder the sheets for an entire hotel) we pass by a four-pack of Satin Care shave gel.  It's a good price if you are 16 years old and shave your legs everyday.  These days I shave when I get a pedicure or see my gynecologist.  I calculate it will take me 4 years to go through the four cans.  My mother pops in my cart a huge pack of Crest toothpaste.

Looking like a sherpa, I labor to push my cart to checkout.  Once through, we load up my car.

I turn to her and say, "where would you like to go now?"

We end up going to her favorite bakery where I let her pick out her birthday cake (strawberry shortcake) and buy her an apricot pie and a couple of pastries for the week.

Now she's happy.  It's amazing what a little sugar can do to sweeten one's mood.

At home, I unload the stuff from Costco.  I have floor-to-ceiling industrial-strength storage racks in my garage which you-know-who made me buy at Home Depot.  Their sole purpose is to store the surplus staples.  They are bursting with paper goods, plastic utensils, and cleaning agents.  I broke a sweat trying to fit everything in.

My mother surveys the racks.  "See, doesn't it feel good to save money?"

I mumble, walk past her to the front door where a package from awaits me.   It's my new book.

Now I'm happy.

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