A quick trip. A short list. That's all it was supposed to be. But it wasn't. And there was a melt down. And it was ugly.
I was just finishing up in the produce section of our local market, cart loaded with scallions, peppers and the first Honeycrisps
of the season when I was stopped by a friend I hadn't seen in awhile. Pleasant small talk ensued. Children were remarkably patient. Plans were made to get together soon...and then it happened.
I looked over my friend's left shoulder and saw them. The bulk bin full of little candy corn pumpkins. A Fall favorite that has been a lifelong struggle for me. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN THE STORE IN SEPTEMBER?!?!?!? I cannot eat just one. When they are in the house, I cannot stay away from them. I used to buy them, and then hide them...but it turns out, I'm not stupid and I always remember where I hid them. And I would just keep eating them until I was sick. Not sick of
them...literally sick, because I had eaten an irresponsible amount of them. So now I don't buy them until right before Halloween, knowing full well, that I will eat them all. But then it will be over. Damage done. Damage contained to one reckless incident.
So I just walked away. I walked away. Knees quivering. Mouth watering. Strength dissolving. Walked away. Focused hard on my list and moved on to bread and milk and other necessary items. Mostly recovered, and safely surrounded by salad dressings and other innocuous condiments I began to falter again.
What if I bought just one? Paid for it so I could truly appreciate the cost, both monetary and caloric, and limited myself like this until the October gorge could begin? Bulk bin, right? Sold by weight. This will work.
I nearly tipped the cart over in my rush to do a u-turn in aisle 7 and made my way back to the other end of the store. Fighting the urge to stick my whole head inside the bin as I lifted the protective lid, I nudged the scooper in and selected just one confection. One itty bitty fruit of the vine. One. I carefully dropped it into the overly large plastic bulk bag, handed my 3 year old a free apple and turned to place it in my cart...
"Um. Excuse me ma'am," came the embarrassed whisper of the pimply faced produce adolescent. "You can't buy just one. It won't register on the scale at the checkout. You have to buy at least a whole scoop full." A scoop full!? Do you have any idea how many of these little pumpkins I can fit in my mouth at once!? I don't want a whole scoop full! It has taken me 15 minutes to build up the strength to buy just one and now you tell me I can't have just one!
My face must have whitened as I fought the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and shakily turned towards him. He really did look apologetic, but he had no idea how sorry he was about to be.
"But I only want one," I explained to him, trying to remain calm.
"If you like, you could totally have a "free sample" of one today," was his brilliant solution. He's feeling soooo clever. Like he's doing me a favor or something...aarrggghhhhh!
My mind was flooded with images of me hitting this market several times a day to pick up my free sample...get a grip girl. This is irrational. You have already decided to pay for this pumpkin. Money and calories. Totally worth it...can't buy a scoop full and limit myself to just one a day...have tried that in the past. Doesn't. Work. Oh God...why did he have to offer me a free sample
"Can't you just put a price sticker on it for me? Like maybe 10 cents or something? I am happy to pay for it. It's not a problem." I could hear my voice getting panicky. Ridiculous, I know. Don't judge me.
"Um. No ma'am. I'm sorry. The bulk stuff isn't labeled for individual sale."
My mind was racing again. Maybe I could buy the damn scoop full and throw the rest of them away in the trash can right outside of the store...no, probably not capable of that. This is stupid. Actually it's quite amazing how fast my mind is working right now.
Back to reality. "Um, ma'am. Did you want that free sample?"
"No thank you. I'll just pass for today," I whispered in defeat and handed him the bag with the solitary orange pumpkin. And just as I was turning my back to head towards the checkout I saw him toss the whole thing into the trash can next to the bulk bins. Water welling in my eyes and mouth dropping open I spun around and caught his eye.
"I have to throw it out. You touched it and now we can't sell it to anyone else," was his pathetic explanation.
Shaking. Fuming. Trying not to completely lose it in front of my child and the other unsuspecting shoppers, I gripped my cart for support, swung around so I could roll right past him and said...
"I hope you're happy. You just crushed my soul. I wish I could see things from your point of view, but I can't seem to get my head that far up my ass. Have a nice day."