It’s January in Virginia, the time of year the South fears, deep inside its bones.It’s the time southerners collapse in a panic when January weather behaves the way that January weather has ALWAYS behaved. Virginia in January is like a toddler who is shocked to find out that he has to go bed—again. Like, it’s cold, AGAIN? We didn’t know!! Why didn’t anybody tell us it was going to be get cold AGAIN? It was cold LAST YEAR! It can’t be cold THIS YEAR TOO!!
(I have adopted this attitude, by the way. I am officially the biggest whiner when it comes to the cold and always think I’m going to die before March. My pioneer ancestors are laughing at me and pointing, I know.)
It snowed last Saturday here in the Commonwealth, and while I make fun of our wussy winter ways, it actually was a big storm. We got almost a foot in less than 24 hours, and with limited snow plows and infrastructure to deal with the mess, you get an entire community homebound because of the scary white stuff. Church was cancelled, and school was closed for 3 days.
Which means that between Christmas break, school starting January 3rd, and then being closed for almost a week after that, I’ve had some quality time with my children and my house. Which also means I have had some quality time with my pajamas and maybe a loose and casual and less quality relationship with my shower.
As I bid my children goodbye today for the first time in 5 days, I decided I needed to get out and maybe be productive. At the very least, we needed some food for dinner and my husband had requested fish tacos. I couldn’t quite bring myself to shower, though, as it also happened to be my day off and I know that tomorrow my hygienic life begins again, so I embraced my semi-grungy self and decided to go grocery shopping with my messy, unwashed bun and just be brave if I ran into anybody I knew. Parting with my pajama habit and donning real clothes was hard enough, doing my make-up and hair was way too hard to contemplate.
I went to Trader Joe’s and bought pretty much just the ingredients I needed for dinner, plus some cookies and some fruit leather to throw in my daughter’s lunches. It was not a massive grocery extravaganza, it was just a quick in and out for what would get me through the day. And I didn’t run into a single person I knew—hooray! My unwashed self was safe from embarrassment.
Then the cashier at Trader Joe’s started making small talk. How was your day, fine, did you enjoy the snow, yeah, back to grind, blech, etc, etc. Then he said, “You have kids you sent to school this morning?”
I narrowed my eyes and him and said, “Yes. I do. Um, how did you know?” I instinctively fingered my unkempt hair and thought, “Wow, do I look that bad? Do the crows feet and circles under my eyes spell out ‘Tired Mother’ across my face?”
He picked up the fruit leather and said, “This is what gave you away. It doesn’t go with anything else you are buying, so I figured it was for a kid lunch.”
“Ah,” I said, and smiled and nodded. But then I got indignant. Like, hey, if I wanted to buy 10 pieces of fruit leather and eat them on my couch MYSELF while bingeing Netflix, how would he know?
But then I thought, well, fruit leather isn’t exactly a binge-eating/watching kind of snack. People don’t exactly say, “Pause the movie while I go get some more FRUIT LEATHER!”
(I mean, I guess a person COULD say that. Maybe fruit leather goes great with Netflix. Poor fruit leather. Nobody has ever even given it a chance.)
I wondered what else he deduced from my shopping cart. I had cabbage and tilapia. Does he know that I’m trying to cook better meals? Of course he does, EVERYBODY is trying to cook better meals in January! It’s like every mother’s resolution that is going to be shattered in March when her children eat Chick-fil-a for 5 days straight (um, not that that’s ever happened at my house.)
He also probably guessed that we still had the basics in my fridge, because there was no milk or bread in the cart. He probably deduced that my kids are older, because I had lemonade but no juice boxes or any other kind of convenience food for younger kids. Plus it was pink lemonade, which is stickier when it spills. Maybe he knew my kids are long past the spillage stage?
Seriously, this guy was totally Sherlock.
I’ll bet you can learn a lot about a person by what she puts in her shopping cart. I’ll bet grocery cashiers have a lot of fun. I’ll bet they talk about the unwashed and semi-grungy mothers who come through their lines and say, “you are never gonna guess what SHE was buying for dinner!”
If this post feels random, please forgive me. I told you, my most meaningful conversations over the past week have been with a frightfully bored and grumpy teenager and a 4th grader who talks non-stop about snow.
How is you January shaping up?