Last night, I went out to get some bread, cream cheese and salsa.
I do half of my grocery shopping at "ghetto Cub". That's how it's known around these parts. I love it. It's so different than the strolls I used to take through the beautiful Dierberg's of Wildwood. I'd like to paint a picture for you of this shopping experience.
First of all, I am usually in the minority when I'm there. Many times I am the only caucasian in sight...and the only English-speaker in earshot.
But, ghetto Cub doesn't offer merely ethnic diversity. It offers the occasional drag queen. Now, at the heart, I know this is a symptom of deep spiritual sickness. But, in the moment, I'm simply mesmerized. Is it a she or he? Last night I saw two dudes dressed like two chicks. One of them had man hands, a close shave and breast implants. The other was the same without the implants. It's so hard not to stare...and wonder how much it cost...and what the pre-op appointments were like. I totally got caught staring and gave a friendly smile as if to say, "Hi...Just two gals...picking out fruit".
Many of you know that I'll talk to anyone. Last night, I noticed a Somali woman loaded down with 15 pounds of fruit and no cart. "Do you want me to watch your stuff while you go get a cart?" Yes!! She took me up on my offer. It's wasn't a big deal, but I find it hard to connect with Somalis, so it felt like a little breakthrough. As I was waiting, I turned to a Hispanic lady, "Do you know how to ripen mangoes? Do you think I can put them in brown bag like pears? Or should I just let them sit out?" She just looked at me and smiled and said, "no. no." dang. I wish I was bilingual.
Another bizarre thing about shopping in the ghetto: I can have my three kids hanging on me, proving to the world that I'm a worn out mom and I'll still get the up-and-down-yeah-dats-right-gurl-work-dat-thang look. It's bizarre. Baby on hip, people. Looking like death. This is where people shop who have extremely low standards.
Okay. Moving on. Did I mention the cop parked out in front? Almost perpetually?
Children at my Cub. They are rarely monitored. Often, I catch little boys stealing from the bulk candy bins. I usually give them a stern and slow head shake as if to say, "I am the secret police...and God is watching...". But, then there's the parents who have different values. I've watched parents WATCH their children steal from the bulk candy bins! I give them a look like, "oh. that's cute. stealing isn't one of the 10 commandments." And one time, our friend Tanya, saw a little boy doing the pee pee dance. And then a second later, she saw his mother holding him up to the trash can to actually relieve himself in it. Yes. I'm serious. And...I still like shopping there.
As I'm leaving, there is ALWAYS someone talking on the payphone stationed in the entryway. Always. always. That's strange. every. time.
Last night, after paying, I realized that I forgot the bread. typical. I was bagging my groceries across from a girl who had three loaves of bread. "Can I have one of your loaves," I joked. And then she offered it to me! I laughed and explained that I was just kidding. And as I was going back for the bread, I wondered, "How homeless do I look?!!!" Seriously? At this ghettolicious place, I don't stick out as someone...not ghetto? Oh no. Oh...good...it's good to be humbled like this.
I packed up my car and then heard, "Do you wanna buy a tamale?" huh? Not feeling threatened, I stepped closer. He was standing with an older Hispanic lady who was pedaling homemade tamales from a Coleman she kept in a shopping cart. She was selling them for a dollar each. It was almost 10pm. I bought one. I don't like tamales as far as I know. But, I liked her. I liked the randomness of it all.
I love the whole ghetto Cub experience.
Why? Because it's nothing like my home or my culture or my values. I'm familiar enough with the experience of upper middle class America. (I don't know what class I am technically. But, I know where I've shopped.) It's good for me to get this perspective at least once a week.
Coincidentally, as I was googling to get an image of the "I heart my Cub" bumper stickers, I found that there is an essay contest about "Why I love my Cub" going on right now?! I don't think I should enter mine, do you?