Monday, January 3, 2011

Grocery Shopping in the Fernando Valley.

Good rehearsal last night...particularly the music portion of the evening. I worked very hard on the music over our break. Even though I kept the score in front of me last night, I rarely looked at it. To non-performers this may not seem like such a big thing, but to performers it is a massive thing...the day you don't need the script. An auspicious day, indeed.

We did a bit of the non-musical stuff last night, too. Suffice to say I'm not nearly as optimistic about those. But I'll leave that alone for a few days. It might fix itself.

Angie and I are off to do our grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is a battle royal in this house. A day of high duress. The Waterloo of our marriage. The moment I enter a grocery store I instantly become eight years old. I want Twinkies, pie, eclairs and candy. I also argue vigorously for chips and dip. Angie, much to her chagrin, must don her drill instructor persona and deny me everything. I can't help myself. I try and be an adult about food purchases but I don't have it in me. Grocery stores bring out my inner nihilist.

There's a place up the street from us that we call 'The Armenian Market.' That's not really the name of the place, in fact I don't know the actual name of the place, but that's where we go to get meat and fresh produce. It's much less expensive than, say, Von's or Ralph's, and they have really good stuff. That's the upside. The downside is it's like entering the DMZ everytime we go there. It seems to me the Armenians, an otherwise proud and noble people, I'm sure, become domestic terrorists in a shopping environment. The last time we were there a near fist-fight had errupted in the coffee section of the store. Medium dark roast was on sale and the Armenian women were pushing, shoving, sassing and threatening each other at frightening volume. Security had been called. Women were being held apart. The coffee guy behind the counter had a look of terror and fear on his face. At first I thought perhaps a gun-waving lunatic was lurking somewhere (everyone was yelling in the 'mother tongue, so I couldn't understand all the brew-ha-ha). But no, it was simply a typical 'sale day' at the Armenian Market. This also happens when chicken is on sale. The dogs of war are let loose. I can't help thinking if they'd shown this level of ferocity in WWI, the Ottoman Empire would have taken Europe.

So it's our usual shopping trek. After the horrors of the Armenian Market, our nerves shot, our faces twisted in shock and awe, trembling uncontrollably, we head over to Pavillions. It's a bit of an upscale grocery place and it is here that my real psychological troubles begin. I immediately break ranks and do a quick-step to the frozen pizza aisle. Angie goes about getting healthy products. She catches up to me in the frozen pizza aisle where I'm standing stock-still and gazing worshipfully at the mind-boggling selection of pizzas: Hawaiin pizzas, spinach and goat cheese pizzas, barbeque pizzas, Mexican pizzas, Supreme pizzas, five-cheese pizzas, Tombstone, Tony's, Red Baron, California's simply overwhelming. By the time she catches up to me in that aisle I can't speak. I've gone into a sort of halcyon overload. The most I can do is point and salivate. I grunt prehistorically. Angie ignores me. She pretends not to know me. She carries a Canadian Mounted Police baton and pokes me hard in the ribs. This is usually all that pulls me out of it. Sometimes this goes on for up to an hour. When I finally snap out of my fugue state I quickly jog to the chips aisle. The chips aisle in Pavallions is long. About a half mile, I'd say. I stare at the chips for awhile, bouncing from one leg to another. I quietly beg innocent passersby to purchase a bag for me. Any bag. Doesn't matter. They run from me. I don't care. I descend on the next one. My pride and self-respect evaporate. Sometimes I take a hand-written sign. "Will work for chips." I just want chips. My mind won't focus on anything else.

Eventually Angie catches me in this aisle. We repeat the baton routine. My ribs are sore and bruised but I don't care. Out of respect for the play I'm doing, she doesn't strike me in the face. After a bit, I'm beaten back to normalcy.

Once we leave Pavillions sometimes, very rarely, we head over to Trader Joe's.

'Trader Joe's' has become Angie's code word for 'No.' I'll say, "Let's get those frozen burritos." She'll say, "We'll get those at Trader Joe's." This way she avoids a scene in the grocery store. She used to just say, "No." But she discovered that simply makes me fall to the floor and throw a fit. I kick and cry for about an hour. I sometimes do coffee grinders. She's wily, Angie is, so she finally started saying, "Let's get those at Trader Joe's." I fell for that line about 173 times before I realized that we never go to Trader Joe's.

So we head out soon for the grocery shopping. It's an ordeal but necessary. Angie has tried leaving me behind for these trips but I only run after the car until she stops and lets me in.

It's hope that keeps me going. The hope of the damned. The slim, almost impossible chance that one day she'll give up. I'll exhaust her into saying, "Oh, for God's sakes, just get the damned frozen pizza." It's never happened. But I hold out hope that it might one day.

I don't sleep much on the nights before we go. I discard my agnostic beliefs and pray to a kind and benevolent Christian god. One day a month I become Oral Roberts. It hasn't helped.

See you tomorrow.

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