The agony of choice June 20, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
It’s a battle of wills every time I leave the house to do my favourite thing in the whole world now that I’ve given up smoking, going to the supermarket. It was worse in the old days when I hadn’t worked out how better to spend money I didn’t have and no-frills supermarkets were also in the picture. But now that my wallet’s packed full of cards and I am, therefore, rich, the battle of wills – my wills – is down to two. I turn right out of the front door and hurl abuse at everyone walking in the direction of Lidl. “No-frills scum-king,” I shout, without even an offer of a translation.
But what about when I come to the junction of our humble street and the biggish street close by? If I do a left, it’s only a step or two to Edeka which is cheaper than the competition but still good enough to make me think I’m one of life’s winners. Or I can do a right and get to Rewe. Further away. But bigger so sort of better. They have the odd male cashier, which is a minor thrill. And also take credit cards which can be a deciding factor when I need the shopping to be free.
Yet now that my supermarket habits no longer leave any room for doubts as to my one-of-life’s-winners status and there is no great difference really between the fairly piss-poor range of comestibles on offer, and as I am an indecisive type, I can sometimes spend as long as three to four days standing at the junction, reasoning with myself, sometimes rather loudly, about which way to turn.
“Edeka,” I’ll shout at myself to the consternation of imaginationless passers-by. “Only a total wanker would go to Rewe.” Then I scrabble around on the ground for a bit, fetching myself almighty blows round the chops, and get back up, crying, and then remonstrate with myself, “No, Rewe. Rewe’s bottle machine gives you a breakdown of the type of bottle you’ve returned. Edeka’s doesn’t. Loser.” Then I beat the shit out of myself a bit more and pull my hair out. And toss a coin when I can’t bear it any longer.
Both supermarkets now have cafés. This used to be a matter of little import. But Marsha changed all that. I wandered off one morning, braced for the junction ruck. Stopped by the letter box. A parcel. From Marsha. Of comedy. I was so stunned by her generosity – more generosity in that single gesture than I’ve had out of the Russian in 24 years (or something like that) of blissful togetherness though he did tenderly say recently that maybe we weren’t so bad after all – that I had to go to Edeka. As it was, I barely made it. Reeling from her kindness, I had to do the last few metres on all-fours.
Sustenance was called for. Edeka’s café is plastic and sterile enough but blow me if I didn’t have seats to the best theatre in Berlin. So much to watch! The wishing cashier wished me so many good things – appetite, day, rest of my life – that I felt very at peace with the world. Workmen happened to be working on the automatic doors. The in-charge one looked at the same bit of ceiling from inside and out and shook his head. His minion did likewise and played with his mobile phone. A dog was tied up inside the entrance to the supermarket and stared out forlornly, like an old lady hoping someone might come to visit. An old lady who looked a bit like the old lady the dog looked like came to pet the dog. It continued its forlorn look for a couple of seconds, then snarled and gnashed and went for her jugular, practically throttling itself as its lead refused to unfurl any further.
But today I needed the shopping to be free. Trolled off to Rewe. Whizzed my way round, knowing that I’d reward myself with a stale sandwich and a nice cup of machine coffee at the end of it. Rewe’s café is even less charming than Edeka’s but, oddly, it has its own gallery attached. So while I can commend the setting even less, it gets extra points for the cultural angle.
I hurtled my goods into my plastic bags. Distributed the weight evenly. Looked admiringly at an old couple who’d been together so long they seemed to have lived beyond the wishing-each-other-dead stage who were carefully going through their receipt, checking off item against item. Returned my trolley. Got myself a half-sandwich and coffee and sat down ready to peruse some art.
Water-colour and pencil vaginas if you don’t mind! Bet you wouldn’t get that at Tesco’s in Ruislip.