You must like to cook

Why is it that odd comments always happen in the grocery store? Funny stories often happen in the library, but the head shaking, alternate universe-type comments are always at the grocery store. So I shouldn't be surprised that this is the comment I heard in the check-out line yesterday. Though I'm still a bit baffled as to why someone was surprised I was buying groceries at a grocery store.

Here's what happened. I was putting my groceries on the belt, when a (slightly) older woman got in line behind me. She watched me unload my cart for a few moments and then said, "Wow! You must like to cook!" This took me a little bit by surprise because I didn't feel as though the amount of food I was buying looked bizarrely large. It was a normal amount for our family for a week from that particular store. (I wonder what she would have said if she had known that it was only half of my weekly groceries. I had already done my shopping at Aldi and it was in the van.) In fact, I feel as though I buy a lot less than the food I see in other people's carts. Anyway, it must have looked like a lot to her, hence the comment.

I try not to take offense at every little thing, so I pleasantly said, "Well, I do a lot of cooking." I wasn't buying all that food just because I just wanted to cook, but because my family needed to eat. Based on her tone and the fact that her volume allowed the entire store to hear her comment, my instincts told me that mentioning the number of children in my family would just be asking for trouble, so I stuck with something benign and what seemed to me to be fairly obvious. Isn't that why everyone shops at a grocery store, so that they can eat?

But it didn't end there. She paused for a moment and asked (loudly), "You cook dinner?" I was tempted to pat my head to see if horns were sprouting based on her surprised tone, but resisted and instead replied, "Yes, every night."
"EVERY NIGHT!?" Not only horns, but a second head must be making its appearance.
"Yes, every night."
"EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!? You don't go out to eat?"
"Um, no, not really." I then briefly thought about mentioning those 10 children, but quickly pushed that idea aside and stuck with, "Well, it's really expensive."
"Oh." Clearly she was disappointed at such a mundane reason for buying food and cooking it. I don't know what she was hoping for, but I must have ended up being a disappointment to her. Probably she was hoping I was secretly housing political refugees seeking asylum in my house and was forced to feed them myself because we couldn't appear in public. Hmmmm... with more lead time, I could have come up with a really exciting story behind my nefarious cooking. If only I got a script in advance of the odd comments. I'd be prepared.

At least she didn't stalk me and then try to ask me out.


Shonya said…
chuckle, chuckle

That was a fun read! I love your mental thoughts about it not being that much food compared to what you have all together from both stores. :)

I also appreciated that you didn't mention the 10 children just to get a further rise out of her. I've seen people with large families almost seem to rub it in people's faces for the attention/reaction and that gets a little on my nerves. I don't see having larger families as something to hide and be ashamed of, but neither is it something to flaunt or wear as some sort of badge of honor. I prefer to just treat it as a normal expectation, not terribly surprising.
AmyG said…
I am suddenly so curious as to what was in her cart...
thecurryseven said…
Amy -- Not very much. It was just a handful of things. I didn't want to stare so I don't know exactly, but I think there was a jalepeno pepper among the items.

If I had had my wits about me, I would have asked her what she was planning on cooking... or how often she went out to eat... or asked her something. But my wits are never about me in those situations.

Amy said…
What odd questions. If all your food fit in one cart, then it couldn't have been that much food. We live in the so called "unfriendly North" and rarely get comments about anything. In our state, people usually mind their own business in the grocery store and the more I read about the comments other people get around the country, the happier I am to live in a place where people tend to keep their comments to themselves. The only memorable comment (good or bad) I have gotten out in public about our definitely not normal looking family is, "You have a beautiful family". I loved that comment.
Carla said…
This reminds me of a comment my mother received in the grocery store from a elderly widow lady from her church. They had been chatting in the aisles and the widow, knowing that we had a large family, commented, "I'm sure glad I don't have to pay for all that!" when she saw my mother's cart piled high.

The best was my mother's response, "I'm just thankful that I CAN pay for all this." It made such an impression on this widow that she mentioned it years later. Instead of complaining about how much groceries cost, she was thankful that she was able to get them.
Lucy said…
When I was a kid, my mom cooked dinner, and breakfast and lunch every single day. Eating out was extremely rare, and not even done on trips.

I work outside the house and we're lucky to cook dinner at home twice a week. Since more women are in my shoes than yours, I think her comments just reflect the cultural norm.

I love Carla's moms' quote... I try to remember to bear witness to Christ in my conversations with strangers, and lets face it, for us introverts those conversations happen a lot more when the stranger starts them :-) Even if they're just thinking we're weird.

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