Saturday, November 21, 2009

Excerpt 2 from The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the Closet


My hands were chafed and raw from the mid-grade wooden handles by the time I reached the market. I parked the barrow around the back of the store and sauntered inside the way a normal person would. I barely suppressed a wince as my hands gripped the shopping cart. A shopping cart would be much easier to push home, I mused, but I had no idea what the penalty for shopping cart theft was, so I released a sigh and dug in my purse.
It took me a moment to comprehend what had happened. My shopping list was tucked neatly into my cook book, at home, right where it could be the least functional. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to keep myself from imploding on the spot. I was the recipient of more curious glances, but if these people only knew my mother-in-law….
Standing sentinel in the supermarket wouldn’t get Thanksgiving dinner under way, so I began in produce. A dozen Macintosh apples for homemade apple sauce, fresh thyme and rosemary for the turkey, white and sweet potatoes, onions, turnip, and I was off to the canned aisle. Everything was much more picked over here, and I cringed at grocery store prices for canned pumpkin this close to the holiday. Cranberry, evaporated milk, flour, sugar, brown sugar, I probably had some of this stuff at home, but better safe than sorry.
My normal efficiency was gone without my list, and I was transported back to my early days of shopping willy-nilly. I was putting off the turkey, since that was a dilemma all of its own.
A normal person buys her turkey a few days ahead so it has plenty of time to defrost. Maggie Phillips didn’t have that luxury, so I chatted up the meat manager, and he told me how to brine a turkey. I was to set the bird in a salt water bath as soon as I got home. That way it would cook faster and have more time to defrost. He recommended I cook the stuffing separately, and I didn’t argue.
I stood in line, watching the glazed expression of the other veal as we waited for the financial slaughter. I have a knack for picking the wrong line and, as usual, I waited behind a woman who bore a startling resemblance to that girl from Flash Dance and was trying to pay by check.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” The pockmarked cashier didn’t look the tiniest bit sorry, more like bored. “You need to have your driver’s license with you in order to write a check.”
“But it’s out in the car; can’t you make an exception, just this once?” The pretty brunette in the sky blue spandex and cut-up sweatshirt fluttered her mascaraed lashes at the checkout guy, and I snorted. Like that was going to work. The kid had already ‘ma’am-ed’ her, for Pete’s sake.
“It’s a store policy, ma’am.” The clerk scratched at an especially deep crater, and I winced in sympathy. If he had nails he was gonna need a blood transfusion.
The woman worked her wiles a few moments longer, but Crater Face held his ground. Finally, the complaints from the people behind me sent Jennifer Beals out to get her driver’s license.
Crater Face took his sweet time checking me out and had to call a price check on my parsley. At that point, I was ready to tell him to stuff the parsley where the sun didn’t shine, but the price check came in, and I pushed my cart around the back of the store where I’d left my transportation.
It wasn’t there.
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