One of my girlfriends thinks the worst part of being single is sleeping in a big, pretty bed with no man to warm her tootsies. Another says it’s the holidays, when nosy relatives butt into her romantic life and worry about her shriveling ovaries. But to me, there’s something more demoralizing, more torturous than any other trial single women must endure.
Nothing says, “you’re alone, you childless monster from Hell” like the modern grocery shopping experience. Even the shopping list itself is a hideous reminder of your solitary fate: One breast of chicken. One stick of butter. One can of lonely ass soup.
In the aisles of my local Whole Foods, I hear adorable couples saying cute, couple-ish things – “Do we have soy milk? Did we run out of basmati rice?” – just to drive home to us singles that no one’s concerned about our dairy intake or whether we’re getting our daily requirement of grains.
Meanwhile in produce, I’m being loathed by the over-worked vegetable lady who I’ve just asked to slice a cabbage in half. Later at the seafood counter, the old fish guy offers a merciful grin after I order a single filet of cod.
“Poor child,” his smile seems to say. “Let’s get you the biggest piece of fish we can find!”
Loneliness, desperation and gloom are not emotions I feel on a regular basis as a single woman. Sure, if a fairy came down to grant me three wishes, a sexy boyfriend might be first on the list. As a married woman, there were days I would’ve given my life savings – the entire roll of quarters – to be single again, just as there are now days when I fantasize myself attached. Mostly though, life is rich enough to keep a smile on my face.
But the grocery shopping…gets me every time.
Living in a city without a car makes the whole ordeal even more gruesome. Try walking through a foot of New England snow while carrying four heavy, tragically defective plastic bags. One inconvenient shift of a pizza box and a week’s worth of groceries go tumbling into a snow bank. If there’s ever a time I miss an ex-boyfriend, it’s during the long walk home from my neighborhood supermarket.
“Peter had such a nice, warm car,” I’ll think. “If there was one thing I loved about Peter, it was how gallantly he carried grocery bags.”
I assume there’s now a permanent fissure in the muscles between my shoulders and neck after years of schlepping bags around. On the plus side, I’m developing biceps that would make Madonna cower in fear.
Truth is grocery shopping is just an externalization of the harsh realities of being single. Tough life decisions, disappointments and setbacks, the burden of trying to build a career and a fruitful existence – you carry by yourself. Life’s challenges rest squarely on your own fragile shoulders. The fantastic thing about having a partner is that he or she carries half those bags. And sometimes, when you’re really lucky, he’ll just toss them in the trunk of his car so you don’t have to worry about them at all.
Unfortunately, I have to eat which means I have to buy groceries. Therefore, I’ve decided to start having my food delivered. That way I can avoid all those evil beings who taunt me in the purgatory otherwise known as Stop n’ Shop.
Now, if I could just find a way to heat up the other side of the bed.