Sometimes I'm So Clever I Get in My Own Way

>> Thursday, July 9, 2009

Today I decided to do something different. Toddler and I were on our way to a weekly meeting in another county. For this meeting, we needed just a few bananas. Normally, when I need food for this meeting, I stop at Large Nationwide Typical Grocery Store or Typical Fast Food Restaurant. After all, one Large Nationwide Typical Grocery Store is just like any other, and this one is just like the one around the corner from home, only a touch cheaper.

This time, though, I decided I would try out the International Grocery Store. It was on an easier side of the street, and even though it looked different, we only needed bananas. I thought that maybe I would be the only one there who spoke English as a first language but maybe not. (Toddler doesn't yet speak English -- he speaks, but I'm not sure what to call it.)

As it turns out, I needn't have worried. All the signs in the store were written in five languages, only two of which I even recognized, and the checkout clerks spoke English better than the people at the local McDonalds. In the meantime, the store was a wonder to behold. There was fresh seafood all over the back, fruits and vegetables that I had never heard of and couldn't pronounce, and more soy sauce advertised then I thought ever existed. I'm not kidding, I think they sold soy sauce in every aisle. The store also had an unusual mix of pervasive odors -- I was reminded of the Boston fish market, of the Amish vegetable stand near my mother's house, and most pungently, the organic fertilizer (and by that I mean all natural) from the hay field next door to my childhood home.

All of this was interesting, but it wasn't terribly relevant. Focus. We need bananas ... just, bananas. Nothing else. We don't need to look at all those strange vegetables ... bananas. There is nothing special about bananas. Or so I thought. My first problem was that the sign as I approached the banana table said the bananas were there, but so were the plantains. Oops. I knew I had to look carefully, because plantains may look like Chaquita bananas but they sure don't taste like bananas, and this could be quite a shock to the unsuspecting. Then I saw some mighty funny looking bananas that were short and looked like they had swallowed golf balls. Hmm. I think they went with the sign for "apple banana." That would make sense. Then I saw signs for baby bananas, burro bananas, and manzano bananas, and I knew I was probably in trouble. There were green ones, brown ones, red ones, and things that looked bad (but I've since learned look that way when they are ripe).

Yikes! I just want an ordinary Chiquita banana (which I've since learned is more properly called a Cavendish banana -- another sign I think I saw in the store). I was in waaaaayyy over my head. Thankfully, the plain, ordinary, unadventursome bananas necessary for our meeting were hiding on the far side of the table. Whew! Who knew bananas could ever be so complicated?

There I go again, trying to be clever and stop at a new grocery store for something simple like a banana. Save time? Right ... sure. It took me way longer to find bananas in this store than if I had made the two lefts to go into the other store across the street! I should know better by now not to try to be adventuresome and save time on the same trip. Live and learn, and eat bananas.


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