To acquire big airy eggs, I offered to go to Kroger with my wife, which momentarily confused her because I’d mispronounced the name. In my woeful ignorance, I assumed it was like Kmart, and had referred to the store as “K-Roger.” We then discussed the fact that “Kroger” has no rhyme in English, although how she’d know this is a deep marital mystery. She expressed gratitude for my company because, although she usually does the shopping, she never really likes it. This news surprised me. My wife makes food lists, reads cookbooks the way I read video game instructions, and maintains a running tally in her head of every item in the pantry. I’d assumed that the grocery store was to her like a Norwegian going into a Big and Tall Men’s clothing store. (Although in Norway they just call them Men’s Stores.)
On the drive to Kroger my wife said the place made her claustrophobic because it is always very crowded with long check-out lines. She dreads going and leaves exhausted. I’d accompanied her before but, according to her, my presence added thirty minutes and a hundred dollars to the bill. This time she laid out two ground rules—don’t talk to anybody and don’t buy a bunch of snacks. I agreed because I had a short list of large eggs.
The local Kroger is a medium-sized store that serves about thirty thousand people. It’s widely believed that the company blocks all attempts for a rival chain to establish itself in Oxford. Four years ago Kroger brought jubilation to everyone in town by announcing that they were expanding to a superstore. The plan was to take over the adjacent spaces next door, knock down walls, and renovate. Four businesses were forced out—a liquor store, a nail salon, a cigar shop, and a restaurant. This not only inconvenienced customers but also cost those shops a pretty penny in lost sales and relocation expenses. Since then, the empty storefronts have remained sadly vacant and Kroger is still crowded with long lines. Admittedly, I do not fully comprehend the intricacies of large corporations. On the surface they seem to behave like two-year-olds—uncaring about others, and ignorant of consequences for their selfish actions—while still having the same rights as adults! Still, the whole scenario did provide me an opportunity to improve domestic harmony by going to the grocery as my wife’s wingman.
Due to a startling abundance of clientele, the only available parking place was a quarter mile away from the store. We broke a sweat on the stroll across the blacktop, during which I told her I’d fetch whatever she wanted—after I got some giant air-filled eggs. My wife became so overcome by laughter that she had to stop and rest in the shade of a massive SUV, a pretty good use of such a silly behemoth. She never did tell me what was so funny.
Once in the store, she put me on simple vegetable duty. This puzzled me because I’m unacquainted with complex vegetables, or even ones with elaborate personal problems. Confounding my task was the long, slim plastic bag that refused to open. I turned it one way then another, pulling and squeezing, but was unable to discern which end was openable. It was like a mucus membrane that adhered to itself or a maddening Rubik’s Cube. Believing I’d gotten a dud, I pulled a few more free of the handy dispenser, none of which would open. Several wound up on the floor and a few stuck to my clothes. A baleful store employee opened the bag for me and I nodded my thanks, complying with my wife’s instructions not to talk to anyone. Finally I left the produce section for dairy, another enigma—why are eggs shelved with milk? Are cows and chickens more intimate than I realized? I selected a dozen Extra Jumbo Eggs and set off to find my wife. Instead I discovered a magazine stand!
The periodicals were arranged by gender appeal, with the men’s magazines on the top shelf. The CDC reports that men are, on average, five inches taller than women, and apparently these tall men are interested in sports, guns, fishing, and trucks. At the end of the row was a title I’d never heard of—Prepper. I reached for it, thinking it was related to food, perhaps a slang term for “prep cook,” and that it might offer insight into aerating eggs. Eventually my wife arrived with an overflowing buggy and a familiar expression I recognized as disappointment. Yes, I’d escorted her to the grocery store but all I’d managed to do was slip a cucumber into an overlarge condom.
After a silent car ride home I offered to carry the bags into the house, thus sparing my wife the 120-degree heat in the garage. It was a conciliatory effort to make up for my failure as a shopping helper. She would have none of it, and hauled her share of bags inside, effectively nullifying my attempt at rapprochement. While she fanned herself briskly, I turned to Prepper, which is aimed at regular folks like me who want to prepare for the upcoming apocalypse. That time is closer than most people think and will take many forms, including terrorism, invasion by a foreign army, natural disaster, civil unrest, and cyber attacks—all of which will destroy the national power grid. I became quite anxious but knew I couldn’t ask my wife to quell my fears. She’d turned the air-conditioning very low and was cuddling the dog beneath a blanket. I felt left out—exactly how I’d feel when the apocalypse struck.
An in-depth article on natural disasters helpfully defined them:
A flood is when water overflows onto land that is not normally water-covered.
I pondered this, wondering who the target audience was. It seemed to me that anyone who could read would also comprehend a flood. This conundrum was cleared up in the next part:
Examples include when a storm surge from a hurricane flows inland, or when a lengthy period of heavy rain causes a river to overflow its banks.
I then understood that I was reading a magazine aimed at tall men who didn’t live near water. But then—what did those folks have to worry about? Oh yeah, getting overrun by marauding refugees from river towns!