Grocery shopping. That has to be my most-dreaded nightmare. But I have to endure this agony at least once a week just so my family and I have something to eat every day. It’s one of those things many people have to endure and most do so rather quietly. But that doesn’t stop me from disliking the chore of grocery shopping, particularly when I’m tired.
The past month has been horrid for me: tons of work with incredibly short deadlines; sick children; sick husband. I even found myself looking after my mother who managed to fall on level ground in the kitchen and break her ankle.
I admit my mind was groggy at best when I went to do the grocery shopping yesterday. I definitely was on autopilot. I picked up articles without looking all that much at them and dropped them in the shopping cart, checking them off my list as I went.
At the end of the first aisle, I stopped. I couldn’t help but notice something peculiar. The cart was full of things I never buy. I was peeved, as I headed back up the same aisle and returned all those things to their proper places on the shelf. After all, it was an extra task to do before going to the next aisle.
When I reached the end of the second aisle, I found that the same thing had happened. The cart was filled to the brim with things I never buy. I didn’t even remember picking them up. So, again, I performed the task of returning the items from that aisle before proceeding to the next.
Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time I managed to put away the unwanted foodstuffs from the final aisle, as reaching the end of each aisle involved going back up and returning things. But I did manage to get through that final aisle where I took a deep breath and headed for the produce department. There, nothing could fall into my cart, I convinced myself.
Red apples. Green apples. Green grapes. Purple grapes. Oranges. Bananas. I checked the cart. Nothing unusual. Good. I knew I was no longer picking things up absentmindedly. Broccoli. Carrots. Lettuce.
The automatic vegetable sprayer in the store must have been on the brink yesterday. When it turned on to spray the vegetables, it got me. I had to take a cloth from my purse to dry myself off. Freak accident. It didn’t really matter, anyway. I was done and just needed to head to the checkout.
I started to unpack my cart. The first item was spinach. Spinach! I never could have picked up spinach! I have never got the hang of working with spinach to make it taste good. So, I told the cashier, “Oh no. I didn’t mean spinach. Please put that back.” She complied without a word.
I put my other items on the counter: lettuce, carrots, broccoli, bananas, purple grapes, green grapes, green apples, red apples, red hot chili sauce—extra spicy. What? No way. Not with the heartburn I suffer from. I gave the cashier a weak smile and told her, “Please put that away, too.”
A few more items later, I put down four lobsters. I stopped with my hand still on the fourth lobster. I thought and thought. I could not for the life of me remember picking up any of these lobsters. I looked at the cashier, who stood there staring at the lobster.
“Did you want these?” she asked.
“Um—well—actually—,” I started.
“Because I don’t know how much we charge for these. Where did you find them anyway? It’s January and I thought we hadn’t carried these since October. At least, that’s what I thought.”
“That’s okay. Could you please just—”
“No problem.” And she moved the lobsters aside.
I took my bags and went to my car. It seemed like I had more bags than I should have had, but I figured that was due to poor judgment since I was so tired.
I packed my car. I packed my car. Why were there so many bags? Oh well. I packed my car and got in. Time to head home.
My car trudged begrudgingly on the dry pavement. Just what I needed. My brand new car was acting up on a day when I just couldn’t deal with yet one more thing. That dumb car was acting like it was carrying a ton. Anyway, I made it home, unpacked, and then went for a shower.
Time to start making dinner. Another task I admit I don’t really care for all that much, especially when all I’d rather do is sleep.
I walked into the kitchen. The table was set elegantly. A gourmet meal was already in the center of the table: a gourmet meal of lobster on a bed of spinach. It was beautiful, just as if it came straight out of a cookbook with pictures.
I stared in awe at the table. Finally, I managed to tear my eyes off the food before me. At the head of the table, staring at me with a huge grin was a giant lizard. My eyes grow wide.
“Happy dinner,” it roared with blue flames sputtering out of its mouth.
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I watched as it started serving the food, a plate for each member of my family.
“I should call everyone to dinner,” I whispered.
“Dinner time!” it roared, pink and orange flicks in its blue flame sputtering from its cavernous mouth.
Everyone joined me in the kitchen doorway. We saw it seat itself at the extra seat at the table it had set. It picked up a lobster claw. No one moved.
“What?” it asked. “Dragons enjoy sharing a fine meal, too, from time to time. And fine meals are a great way to make good friends.”
So, I enjoyed a fine feast of lobster on a bed of spinach, spicy bread, and garlic asparagus with my family and one very large, very hungry, very friendly dragon.
I wonder when I’ll see him next. He never did mention his address or his phone number. Hmm. I’d love to have another delicious dragon dinner.
Witness: Carla Dofosevol