Being a wife and mother in the suburbs isn’t everything reality TV makes it out to be. For instance, I have never ripped a wig off of another woman’s head after a heated debate about whose husband is currently sleeping with the floozy neighbor down the street, although I did once get very agitated by a woman at the park who was leading a discussion about canned vegetables vs. frozen vegetables. I didn’t hit her, but I did mumble some very passive-aggressive words in her general direction. Personally, I find the vegetable debate much more hair-pulling worthy than infidelity but I refrain from violence unless it’s a topic I am truly passionate about, like Diet Pepsi vs. Diet Coke.
Other than the occasional drama involving the preschool’s appalling shortage of blue tricycles, the suburbs can appear somewhat boring to the naked eye. But not to me. I love living in the suburbs. I love that there’s a man across the street who walks his cat on a leash; I love that we vie for neighborhood dominance through exemplary lawn care; and I love pretending to care about the neighbor’s story about her wilting pansies and how there may or may mot be a conspiracy afoot at the local nursery.
One of the most exciting places in the suburbs is the grocery store. It may seem like just a humble storage of food and household goods, but it is a pre-packaged snack paradise with a new thrill around every corner. Whenever I sit down to map out my latest shopping venture, I imagine I am Indiana Jones and the grocery store is the Temple of Doom.
Like Indiana Jones, I have a couple of sidekicks, but I do all the dirty work myself. I can’t trust anyone on a mission as important as grocery shopping. Sure, my husband and daughter have offered to do the shopping for me and once I even conceded and let them. They were at the store for over three hours and came back with a gallon of egg nog, a jumbo bag of M&Ms, and seven coloring books, none of which were on the list I gave them. No, Indy never sat back and let his sidekicks search for the priceless artifact, nor will I sit back and let my husband and daughter shop for the overpriced chuck roast.
Although I have yet to encounter any giant boulders tumbling menacingly through the cookie aisle, I do still find myself in perilous situations while shopping. The biggest hazards I face in the grocery store are the S.O.A.A. (‘Shoppers of Advanced Age’). These are a kind bunch of folks who have come to the grocery store as a full day’s activity. This contrasts dramatically with my philosophy that shopping is dangerous task that must be approached strategically and completed quickly. These are the sweet, blue-haired ladies that agonize over which grapes are best and then end up filling a bag with one grape at a time. It’s at times like this I ask myself, What would Indiana Jones do? But I usually just end up browsing the produce section and wondering what good the lima bean has ever done for society at large until I am free to make my grape selection.
Indiana Jones could face down any danger armed only with his whip and his wit—I have my ATM card and an overdeveloped sense of sarcasm. His only fear was snakes. My only fear is the tantrum lane. All moms know the tantrum lane: it is that one check-out lane that is lined with ridiculous amounts of candy all at four-year-old eye level. Suckers in the shape of baby bottles, candy-filled planes complete with spinning propellers, and huge pieces of taffy that come with ten-percent-off coupons for the dentist bill you will inevitably incur if you eat the stuff. Like Indy and snakes, I avoid this lane at all costs when I have my daughter/sidekick in tow. I’ll stand in line an extra twenty minutes behind the lady buying eighty-four jars of mustard with coupons just to avoid the tantrum aisle. I like a bit of danger, but I’m not a fool.
No, this kind of suburban excitement isn’t for everyone; it’s just for those of us with a fearless heart, a thirst for adventure, and an empty pantry.