My weekend was supposed to involve a delicious dinner in a neighborhood adorned with holly berry and fir wreaths. I was to stroll cobblestone streets until I reached a friend’s house where I’d sip homemade eggnog and dance to tunes played by a quartet crammed into the corner. I was to partake in holiday chatter and bursts of hysterical laughter, surrounded by friends and strangers. But as the weather forecast worsened, leaping from a prediction of five inches to twenty, I canceled my plans.
It wouldn’t be the end of the world, I reasoned. I had manuscripts to read and critiques to write. There was a paper to fine-tune and some submissions to review. And when I tired of that, I could always work on one of my five knitting projects. Or start a new one with the skeins of yarn pouring from the baskets tucked on my bookshelves. Yes, I thought, this would be a wonderful weekend after all.
“You should go to the grocery store,” my mom urged as she unloaded the dishwasher in Florida, plates clanging and silverware tinging.
“Why?” I asked as I steered my car north on the Blue Route, landing smack-dab in the middle of Friday evening traffic.
“What is it with this egg paranoia? Same with milk. I don’t drink milk any other time of the year. Suddenly I’m in dire need of milk?”
“What if you get hungry when you’re snowed in?”
“Oh, and milk and eggs sounds like such a treat. Mom, I’ll be fine. I have enough Trader Joe’s frozen dinners to last me a week.”
“Okay, but I still think you should buy some eggs.”
Ten minutes shy of home, cutting through a mall parking lot, I stopped at Target. I wandered the aisles, plucking wants and needs from the metal shelves. My red basket sat by my feet as I studied shampoo options. With the cap flipped back, I gave a gentle squeeze and inhaled the aroma as if sampling perfumes. And when I’d had enough, when my basket was filled to capacity, I lined up at a register.
“You can go ahead of me,” I said to the man standing behind me, the man clutching exactly one carton of eggs.
“Thanks! For some reason I thought I should buy these. You know, in case I want them for breakfast,” he explained with a shrug as he placed the eggs on the belt.
“Good idea,” I said as I neatly set my items a few inches from his.
“I see you’re buying the essentials as well,” he noted with a chuckle.
Without looking up, I placed a toilet brush atop a pile of Annie’s Bunny Mac & Cheese, confetti colored sponges, two bags of broccoli, Pillsbury cut-and-bake cinnamon rolls, Tazo tea and an economy sized bottle of pink shampoo that smelled like Pina Colada.
He continued. “I mean, everyone needs some Bunny Mac & Cheese when it’s snowing outside.”
“Exactly! But I’m sure you’ll enjoy your eggs.”
He looked down at the gray carton, eyed the bland texture of the cardboard. Then he glanced over at my colorful collection of items. I set my basket in the pile and looked up to meet his gaze.
“I think you’re going to enjoy the storm more than I will,” he said with a sigh.
“No offense, but I totally agree.”