Monday, January 09, 2012

the tao of grocery shopping

i am -- we are, i'm guessing -- creatures of habit. i was watching henry rollins do his spoken word thing a few nights ago and he had this bit about grocery shopping. he shops like me. or rather i recognized my own habits in his spiel.

you see i usually stop at the grocery store on the way home from work. i walk past the supermarket anyway. i pick up what we need in small bundles. whatever i can carry home with my own two hands. which means that i am a pretty fast shopper and i buy the same shit every time. so does rollins when he bitched about people who are slow and linger over items while they are standing in the middle of the aisle and blocking your way lingering over a can of peas like it was an ancient artifact dug out of the sands of egypt.

which is proof of my own habits. i'm sure the clerks who if they don't know me personally can tell a lot about the contents of my cart. which rarely varies. i don't mind shopping. i have a few friends who hate grocery shopping. i know what i need for the family and i can get to it in a speedy manner.

still i've long thought that shopping for need, such as buying food, is a kind of art. maybe even a spiritual exercise. if we are what we eat then surely we are the also the sum of the items we put into our grocery carts. and if you're like me than that cart usually holds the same things for each visit to the supermarket.

could be another subject for writing. recall ginsberg's 'A Supermarket in California' where the beat poet meets up with the good grey poet, ginsberg's spiritual father. if that don't sound too far-fetched and i'm guessing that it is not. since we all have to live in the world and make do with it however we can. a suite of poems about grocery shopping? why not. because food shopping is an individual and collective activity with its own codes and signs. like language. each day i go to the store is another line written over the line of the previous visit. a palimpsest of behaviors encoded, mapped and drawn over each time we try, each day we visit , sharing in that most intimate portions of ourselves because we are what we buy.


At 12:53 AM, Blogger Greg Evason said...

richard, I remember a long time ago when living in a town called Guelph I was doing some grocery shopping by myself when I bumped into this woman that I knew from the bars at night and she was visibly shocked to see me doing what I was doing. she seemed to be thinking that I did not have an existence outside of the bars and the night. she seemed disappointed like she wanted to think of me not needing to shop for groceries. even to not need to eat as if she would have preferred it if all I needed to eat was the liquid pasta served in the bars at night. she seemed to have this opinion of me as some kind of transcendent being and seeing me there doing that most mundane of things - shopping - burst the bubble regarding her picture and opinion of me. it was funny. greg


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