Do you ever find yourself in a department store and hear a “Security to Zone Eight!” announcement and think that you’re the person the mysterious security camera watchers are zeroing in on? I would never even consider stealing anything, and yet for some reason I always feel certain I’m the person that prompted the security action whenever I hear that. Maybe I’m carrying around some misplaced guilt. Or am I?
This afternoon I hear that announcement as soon as I walk into a department store, and this time one of those undercover “anti-theft” shoppers descends on me and sticks to me like glue as I try to look through numerous rows of purses. At first she asks me how to get out of the store to the mall, which I think is kind of funny because the entrance is a short distance away. Then she asks me if she could get out to the mall from the lower floor.
I answer her questions as I examine a couple of purses. But then she just sticks around, following me around the aisles saying things like “too much choice eh?” As soon as I move on to a new aisle she pops around the corner like a grandmother keeping an eye on an errant toddler around her precious Royal Daltons ready to shout “DON'T YOU DARE!” As I stand in front of a mirror seeing how a couple of bags look wearing me, I almost burst out laughing as I see the red granny sweater loitering over my shoulder, reminding me of Kristin Wiig's wonderfully vacuous characters on Saturday Night Live.
Lucky for the store, amusement wins out over annoyance and I buy a bag, which probably tanks the fun level for Detective Granny. But as I exit the store, half expecting to be accosted by Granny’s uniformed comrades, and thinking about this new kind of store anti-theft strategy, I wonder, what it is about me, in my respectable enough looking office gear, that looks thief-like?
I also get thinking the encounter is not a little ironic, as I had spent some time this morning drafting a blog post about my current preoccupation with personal authenticity and my desire to boost mine. Stay tuned to this spot for an attempt at an explanation; but in the meantime, I’m wondering if the little episode was really the universe telling me, “YOU LOOK SHADY. THERE’S SOMETHING NOT RIGHT ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE NOT AUTHENTIC I CAN TELL!”
I haven’t bought peanut butter in a long time. I was reminded of such recently when my sister Jane stayed over for a night, and couldn’t find any peanut butter (or anything else really) to put on her English muffin next morning. My cupboards are spare. When you live alone and aren’t feeding kids anymore, you buy what you need. You don’t buy things in case someone might want them. You buy the things that will be put together to create your meals and that’s that.
It’s not that I was avoiding peanut butter or anything. For most of my adult life, it was the warm melty goodness on a Sunday morning’s piece of toast that went back to bed with me and a cup of coffee and CBC radio and whatever book or newspaper or letter was getting my attention that particular weekend.
The main reason I stopped buying peanut butter was because I got rid of my car. Since I don’t drive anymore, there have been changes to the way I do lots of things, like stopping at the grocery store. These days I don’t buy to fill the pantry – I buy what I can carry home. And for the past six months or so, peanut butter hasn’t had a place in the grocery bags I am forever schlepping around. I guess peanut butter hasn’t been as “schlep-worthy” as other stuff. It might have been on the grocery list – in fact I’d say it WAS on the list a number of times, but it got superseded by the can of tomatoes or bottle of olive oil which I realised I needed at the last minute, and which I needed more than peanut butter. When you’re walking home from the grocery store, distributing weight in the bags becomes a priority, and in my little walking home world, it was peanut butter that took the hit.
So, as it happened yesterday, peanut butter finds its way into one of the grocery bags, and back to my cupboard for the first time in many months. And tonight after doing the dishes, I open the jar and peel back the sealed foil and stick a spoon in and have a little hunk of the stuff. And I tell you, it is a little spoonful of happy, glorious salty peanuty heaven. There is no piece of Sunday toast that will ever taste as good as that first little spoonful after many months of not schlepping it home because there were other things I “needed” more.
(Even so… me and peanut butter have a date this Sunday morning with my bathrobe and a cup of coffee and CBC Radio and a good book and a piece of toast.)
Copyright © Jennifer Morrison 2009