With all of my menfolk and boyfolk away for the weekend, I had to face the daunting trip to The Devil's Playground alone.
Normally, The Pony accompanies me on my weekly quest for supplies. He just turned thirteen. All it takes is two dollars for the grabber machine, and he is mine for three hours. The Pony is great for those forgotten items on the opposite side of the store. He's my Pony express. In addition, he hefts the 24-packs of Diet Coke into the cart. There's a knack to it. First, the handle-grabby hole must be punctured, then the case flipped upside down so the checker can shoot the bar code with her price gun. The Pony is also Head Pringle Inspector. (That sounds like the name of a celebrity baby, doesn't it?) He gently turns the Pringles cans upside down to listen for crushage, the telltale crumbs cascading past the stack and onto the foil retainer. He has a vested interest, after all. Pringles are the mainstay of his school lunch.
I was a bit slower circumnavigating The Playground without my Pony. From the depths of the antiperspirant aisle to the heights of the deli cold case, I endured joint-jarring obstacles. For those of you who plan to expand until you must drive a motorized fat-cart, I offer this advice. Do not shop with a partner, perhaps a relative, of nearly-identical girth, by rolling two abreast, you on your fat-cart, they leaning on a regular cart like a walker, and expect people to cheerfully get out of your collective way. That's not gonna happen, not even when pigs take to the skies.
In the checkout line, I sorely missed my Pony. He can start harvesting the bagged items and return them to the cart while I am still aligning things on the conveyor. There's an art to that, you know. To place the cold items together, and the boxes, and the oblongs, and the soft, squishy stuff, and the bruisable fruits, and the paper products, and the antiperspirants and toilet-cleaner. By the time I had it all set out, the carousel was full. I had to hustle my bustle down there to make room for more.
The wind was kicking up when I left. It was 20 mph when I arrived, forecast to more than double by afternoon. The greeter/goodbyer was experiencing mechanical difficulties. The precipitation-absorbing rug ingested a large bubble of air every time the door opened. That welcome/good-riddance mat needed a good burping, lest it morph into a magic carpet.
With my lovely lady-mullet nearly cat-o-nine-tailsing my face to death, I forged across the parking lot to the safe harbor of T-Hoe. I used my clicker to open-said-a-me his back hatch. (That's so convenient, unlike the time my old Yukon blew a hydraulic and Fix-It H gave me a crutch to prop it open by hand.) The wind was so severe that it caught my coat out T-Hoe's rear compartment and sent it gyrating through the industrial-strength eddies, down the row, and under a white Chevy Caprice in a handicap slot. That took some retrieving on my part, which would better have been delegated to The Pony.
Back at the Mansion, I was forced to carry in seventeen bags by myself. The Pony and I are a well-oiled grocery-hauling machine. With my main cog missing, I had to unlock the Mansion door with the doorknob that Handyman H installed last winter after letting a dirty red shop towel fill the hole during the first snowstorm, while he drove himself fifteen miles to Lowe's and back with a replacement. The Pony knows the idiosyncrasies of that lock. When to jiggle. When to jab. When to turn.
With my purse and precious Sonic Diet Coke with Lime safely inside, by task turned to toting. Toting is a several-step process for one person. It goes a little something like this:
*Load up your arms with as many plastic bags as possible. This may entail a momentary loss of circulation to your extremities.
*Carry your load through the garage, through the metal door that might slam in your face without warning, especially on days with winds over 20 mph.
*Set the bags on the breezeway porch by the steps, so you don't have to ascend the summit multiple times. Shout at any dogs or cats lurking in the bag-staging area.
*Return through the garage to the butt-end of T-Hoe. Curse the lurking cat for even thinking about jumping up into the unattended car-groceries.
*Pile on another load. Repeat previous steps until T-Hoe is clear of bags.
*Ascend steps to porch proper. Load your arms with grocery bags, leaving one hand free enough to turn the doorknob.
*Transfer bags from porch to kitchen. Repeat until all bags are in.
*Put away all of the day's purchases. All seventeen bags.
I am so happy not to live in the city in a fifth-floor walk-up without a Pony or The Devil's Playground or a T-Hoe.