Others work back there, behind the cold cuts and the baby back ribs and the rotisserie chicken, but as a rule I only notice two of them. One is shortish, black and sassy, maybe thirty; the other is tallish, white and dreamy, maybe twenty-five. The one shares a first name with a friend of long standing, though they don't pronounce it the same way, which, in the absence of a useful explanation, I'm going to attribute to the following: (1) the friend is Canadian, and (2) you should be able to pronounce your own name any darn way you please, in accordance with the standard established by Raymond Luxury-Yacht. Apart from sharing a workplace, the two of them have nothing in common, except that now and again, I have to repeat my order because when I said it the first time, it came out sounding like "Run away with me."

Okay, I didn't say that. I'm not even sure I thought it. But weird things can happen on a Saturday afternoon: officially, all I'm doing is a week's worth of grocery shopping, but out of the house and away from the keyboard, I find my mind wandering all over the place.

For the preceding several weeks, there had been a ginormous Nabisco display near the entrance, packages of Chips Ahoy! stacked almost to the ceiling. I'm not overly fond of this particular cookie, but the price was enticing. And in the first week, the ratio of Standard to Chewy was about nine to one. (None of the other variants were present in the display, though some of them could be found in the regular cookie aisle.) Over the next three weeks, the Chewy gradually disappeared, displaced by more Standards. And finally yesterday, the entire display was gone; I did not bother to price-check either variant in the cookie aisle. Come to think of it, I didn't buy any cookies this week; I assume this is because I have an unopened package of Vienna Fingers on the shelf.

Speaking of Vienna Fingers, an original Sunshine cookie now sold by Keebler, it's amazing how much they resemble, in format if not in form, Keebler's long-standing E. L. Fudge. Weirdly, the two never seem to be on sale at the same time.

Back at the meat counter, I tend to request the same things every week: a pound of ground round, a pound of ground sirloin — the difference is a few percentage points of fat content and forty cents and something steak-like that looks promising. For a while I was buying T-bones, but I discovered that I am a poor judge of size when it comes to T-bones: I usually ended up buying something weighing 20 ounces or so, which is far too big for a meal these days, not to mention the price, often on the far side of $15. Today they had pre-cut New York strips, approximately 8 ounces each, for $5.92, which didn't seem unreasonable. I haven't been reweighing the stuff to see how close they are to the specified weight, but I have been given no reason to think they're shorting me.

Blue Bell was back today; apparently they'd started restocking this area earlier in the week. As before, there was a price differential (fifty cents per half-gallon) between gold and brown rims; I looked at the display just long enough to notice that it was indeed a half-gallon, rather than the 3.5 pints (or even 3 pints) vended by competitors. Then again, none of those competitors are selling for $6.49.

And this happened:

I have no idea how long they'd been there; I am not in the habit of buying cupcakes at this store, and I couldn't tell you the original price. The frosting-like substance on top seemed fairly fresh, but the actual cupcake was seemingly dense as osmium and nearly as flavorful. (7.0 on the Mohs scale, in case Maud Pie is watching.) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have touched them were they not on the day-old rack.

Checking out, after all that, was fairly anticlimactic: about all I do at the counter is unload the cart, swipe my card, and see how badly I busted the budget. (Answer: not very.) No sudden body-part failures or anything like that. It was just another Saturday, and Shell V-Power was the same $2.499 I paid two weeks ago. The last thought that crossed my mind was that there probably won't be too many more weeks I'll be going out in shirt sleeves; already it's 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it was in the summer, and winter promises at least another fifteen.

The Vent

  8 November 2015

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 Copyright © 2015 by Charles G. Hill