It’s winter here in Australia. Which means it’s cold. Well… I mean, not snow covered streets cold. Or ice rinks in the middle of the city cold. Or thirteen layers of clothing cold. But cold. Unless you’re in Darwin where it’s 32 degrees today (or 90 Fahrenheit). But… it’s also 32 degrees there in the middle of summer, winter, spring and autumn. So that doesn’t count.
But here in Melbourne, it’s 10 degrees at the moment or 50 Fahrenheit. So that’s cold. But as cold as that is, I’m kind of excited because… I have a mission. Now, it’s not a regular mission and I probably won’t get an award. In fact, I will get chastised, but nevertheless I’m looking forward to it. Because as cold as the night is, and as dark as the streets are, and as chilly as that winter wind blowing through the trees feels – I have to go out. To do some shopping.
That’s right – I have been told by my wife that we need cheese, biscuits, milk, cupcakes, some apples and bananas and a big bag of crisps. Well, actually that bag of crisps wasn’t on the list, but I’m improvising. It should take 15 minutes I’ve been told.
And let me tell you, I love going shopping at night. Because, you see, being married with kids, means it’s like for the first time in the day, I get some ME time. And not to mention how extremely cool it is to find a parking instantly! Yup, back to my bachelor days. The days where I’d cruise the aisles of the local supermarket, looking for the ready to cook meals where all you do is peel the plastic back and stick it in the microwave for 7 minutes. I was pretty good at those. So here I am again, strutting my stuff through the multi-coloured aisles, feeling like a reeeeeeeeeal man – oooooooo look! A special on dish-washing liquid!
But you see, as I scan the list of things that I need to buy, I soon realise that it isn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. A few things for my wife equates to about a trolley load for me. And what is up with the different kinds of soy milk? I thought soy or not, but it turns out there’s soy lite and soy heavy. Milky soy and creamy soy. Soy which tastes like milk and soy that tastes like almonds… or is that almond milk? Soy for weekends and soy for weekdays. And as I stand in the aisle staring at the multitude choices, I remark smugly to the person next to me that technically it shouldn’t be called soy milk at all, since it’s not even milk. Unfortunately, people who go late night shopping don’t seem to appreciate the intricacies of conversations of the types of milk – or any conversations at all really.
And after phone call thirteen to my wife, I finally establish the one I’m supposed to get. But then it comes to biscuits – and this is where it gets tricky, because I have to ask myself the question the men who do late night shopping ask every time. Are the chocolate biscuits in the chocolate aisle or in the biscuit aisle? Luckily with technology, we have now have smartphone apps for supermarkets. So most of the time when you see people walking around staring at the phones, it’s not because they’re on Facebook, it’s because they’re looking for the right aisle to find what they’re looking for.
Then there’s the fruit section which we can clearly see has been designed with a target female audience in mind. Because every time I take one of those silly packets, I spend the next ten minutes trying to open the bloody thing! I’m rubbing my two fingers, trying to pry it open with my car keys, not even knowing if I’m attempting to do it on the proper side. I even try stabbing a hole in it then pulling it apart that way. Finally when I do manage to get it open, I see some lady walk by, grab a bag and open it effortlessly! What is their secret??
Then there’s the specials I see lined across the aisles, like that packet of cherry flavoured coffee. It’s true we don’t need it or like it, but if I just buy 18 packets, I get the 19th free! What a deal! Men are far more logical than women. And another thing I take personal pride in is that I always look at the price per 100g price. I will be making sure that I get the most bang for my buck!
Then there’s those wonderful self-serving checkout, which I personally like, because any situation where you don’t have to talk to people is a win. However, since all the regular checkouts are closed, it becomes a logistical nightmare when you have more than three items! Because there’s no space! And every time I move a bag to make more space, an alarm starts blaring.
But you see we men can be quite skilful at shopping, and not many people are able to turn a 15 minute shopping session into an hour and a half. Of course, when I do make it home, I get told that’s not the brand the kids like, or what was I thinking getting this one? And why did I get 19 packets of cherry flavoured coffee. My persuasive argument on specials was clearly not hitting the mark.
But despite the trauma, I’m able to sit back and enjoy those few fleeting moments where I was once again a man’s man. Where I was in charge. When I made the decisions. Where I decided - what’s that?? Oh no! We’re out of sugar!