Singapore Adventure

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Shopping for Walnuts
by venitha

Butter? Check.

Just one more item on my list, and then I'm out of here, off to whip up one scrumptious apple crisp. I talked Sonja out of a pumpkin pie when collecting the ingredients proved a challenge, and I just unearthed some brown - well, brownish - sugar that I hope-hope-cross-my-fingers-pray will carmelize more than the lame stuff I used in Test Crisp #1.

Jim: "You think a blowtorch would help?"
Venitha: "More than snarky comments."

Directly in front of the walnuts, a man is squatting, restocking the shelves. I so cannot do that pose. I peer around him and swear softly. The narrow walnut row, just yesterday crammed with cans and cans - yes, cans - of walnuts is now empty. Rats. I look hopefully at the many boxes littering the aisle.

"Excuse me, do you have any more walnuts?"

The man looks up at me blankly, clearly not comprehending English, and exhales a breath so fouled by cigarettes that I step backward. He leans to look around me and shouts to his co-stocker, on a ladder down the aisle.

"Walnuts?" I repeat.

"No ma'am. Out of stock." He says, not even looking up.

"Yes, I realize there are none on the shelf, but... " I indicate all the boxes spread in the aisle, but still, he doesn't look.

"Out of stock," he repeats firmly, clearly dismissing me. I glare at him venomously.

Exasperated with both his typical lack of cooperation and his inexplicable lack of vaporization, I turn back to the nuts, still infuriatingly obstructed by Smelly Squatter. So pecans, then. I rudely reach around him. Pecans will be perfect. I snap the package savagely from its hook. Much better than walnuts. I throw it into my basket. Whatever was I thinking?

As I sashay past Ladder Boy, I'm thankful that he's too high up on the ladder to kick in the shins. Also, for the fact that I don't say out loud what I am thinking: I am so not thankful for you.

At the checkout, my favorite clerk, Celine, greets me warmly, and our smiles evaporate my foul mood. She nods knowingly at first the ice cream, then the sugar. Yes, she thinks, this explains her figure much more than her usual guavas and snap peas.

"Where I'm from, it's a holiday today. Thanksgiving."

"Oh, are you Christian?"

"Well, um, it's not, well, Thanksgiving isn't a religious holiday. It's about family. And we have special foods. Or... not. And... we give thanks for all the good things in our lives." Or we miss the point entirely and spend the day throwing temper tantrums in the grocery store. Whatever.

I bid Celine Happy Thanksgiving and gather up my groceries. On the walk home, I make a mental list of the many, many things for which I'm thankful. And I don't kick anyone in the shins.