January 22, 2004

support your local grocer

“I think there’s a cat living under our front porch.”

“I’ll get the tear gas.”

So, I’ve lived out West long enough that I’ve needed to go to grocery stores. I tried hard to ration the Cheez-Its and Grain Belt I brought from Minnesota, but after a few months they couldn’t be stretched any further. I’ve gone to a number of different grocery stores that all feel uncomfortable and make me yearn for the buzzing lights and scaffold ceilings of Cub Foods. So many different grocery stores! How do I possibly keep them straight?

One word: Vignettes. Which is French for decorative stories scrawled by writers drunk on wine:

Safeway – Hood River, Oregon: A guy in a Grateful Dead shirt tried to sell me acid in the parking lot and then got all paranoid.

Rosauers – Hood River, Oregon: There was a sushi bar, and alternating black and white floor tiles that made me feel like I was in a casino bathroom. A casino bathroom stocked with aisles and aisles of food and no bathrooms. But a sushi bar.

Safeway – Bend, Oregon: “Grah maaah chagh wuh nephth looh.”

Ray’s Food Place – Bend, Oregon: After a heated dispute at McDonald’s, Shane, Erin and I ran to Ray’s to see whether Dr Pepper is owned by Pepsi or Coke. We were wrong. Dr Pepper is owned by Dr Pepper.

Fred Meyer’s – Bend, Oregon: The checkout girl got all flirty and argumentative with the punk teenager in front of me. I bought three Milky Way bars.

Food 4 Less – Bend, Oregon: A creepy lady caressed onions as her dachshund watched from its pillow in her shopping cart.

Ahh, the memories. For all their differences, however, all the grocery stores out here have one thing in common: the Mexican food aisle. No matter where it is, it always has the same products, the same brands of burrito/taco/chalupa shells, the same canned peppers, the gaudy candles depicting that female-Jesus-or-whatever figure, and the same froofy fruit colas. The Mexican food aisle never has Mexican vanilla, though sometimes I confuse the wide selection of hot sauces for vanilla because everything is written with strange words that almost look like words I know but aren’t.

And that’s what pisses me off the most about the Mexican food aisle, how everything is written in this crazy moon language. Like, I wander through the aisle and I always see something that looks good and I think “Hey, that looks good,” but I never end up buying it because I have no idea what the hell it is. But you know what? There is always one product where the company had the good graces to write its name in English, but it is a product that so obviously couldn’t be anything else you wonder why they even bothered.

Because I mean really, it’s hard to mistake pickled pig’s feet for anything other than pickled pig’s feet.

Except for maybe pickled fetuses.

Mexican food aisle?! I know of no grocery store aisle that has that! All the DAMN rich people stores don’t even have it! Instead, you find caviar…. Which isn’t that bad.
I went to RALPHS, and the strikers started pushing me around, saying “where do you think YOU are going?!” Police were watching to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. sooner or later those workers will run out of money and have to go back to work.