Thursday, September 18, 2008

i heart my cub

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.'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?


danielle said...

where are the pictures for this post???? that would have topped it all off! also, when you get that "work that thing gurl" look by some guy and even though you have three kids hanging from you and no makeup on and you haven't brushed your hair for some time, you just turn and smile and say to yourself, "yeah, that's right, i stiiillll got it goin' on!"

Tiffany said...

you are hilarious. i can totally see it! "it's nothing like my home or my culture or my values." that resonates with me and that's why those experiences are fun and so fascinating. thanks for the laugh today. :)

Neely and Steve said...

why am i crying when i get to you buying the tamale!? i'm mental. you're awesome.

Greta said...

Haha, this sounds like the Walmart I went to during college. Why is it that certain (in this case) grocery stores just succumb to these foul images?

I love your usage of ghettolicious and the "dang-gurl" phrase - perfect.

Anyway, did you eat the tamale?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing-did you eat/like the tamale? As funny as this was-it is really great too-another reason we desire a move from the burbs, (but then again, our burb is heading that way a little).


Allison Dillard said...

Love it---is that where we went to buy cheese and fruit???? I just always remember you saying "welcome to your new illness" to your kids when you would shop at the Shop N' Save here. I totally miss you!

Jenna said...

I tasted it. Actually (I'm laughing), she gave me a sample in the parking lot. Opened one up and told me to tear some off. And then she wrapped that one back up explaining that someone else might want to sample it by tearing a little off. As she was wrapping up the "new" one for me, she and the man spoke Spanish to each other. I smiled big and said, "Don't speak Spanish in front of me while I buying this!!" They smiled. I brought it home, offered it to Brent (who declined), tasted it and then threw it away. Not my thing. A little soggy.

Jenna said...

No, Allison. That was Lunds. It's kind of fancy. Remember you said, "I just wanna go somewhere that's clean and doesn't have flies on the fruit" or something like that. I steered clear of ghetto Cub because I love you. I did take you to Somalian Starbucks, though, right?

Anonymous said...

i want a ghetto cub of my very own

Anonymous said...

How do you define 'ghetto'? What makes it 'ghetto'?

Jenna said...

Hey Jenn,
Good question. It was dubbed "ghetto Cub" before I came along. But, I get it. It's pretty much the low-income thing. It's just a few short miles from the heart of Minneapolis. So, it's old and dirty and has been host to shootings (but not in a few years). I'm worried that I've offended you and I'm over-thinking this answer (you can't tell b/c I've used my backspace excessively). But, you have some thoughts. Feel free to share them. You're a sister in Christ and a ponderer. Let me have it.

Anonymous said...

Hey sis,

Well, the reason I asked is because many times, I see 'ghetto' refer to certain races and cultures... not saying that is what you intended to do, which is why I asked :)

It has been my experience that many times, when people say 'ghetto', it refers to a particular type of Black person, while Whites are not seen as ghetto. Again, this has been my experience.

Also, low income does not necessarily mean ghetto. Ghetto is definitely a mentality so a nonBlack with much money can also be ghetto.

Another reason I asked was because of the following comments:
Many times I am the only caucasian in sight
I'll still get the up-and-down-yeah-dats-right-gurl-work-dat-thang look

Because I have heard and seen what people USUALLY associate the above dialect with, and because I have seen that ghetto often means a particular section of a particular race, I asked.

And let me say - I am not saying you are a racist at all. I just wanted to see what your mindset was toward the whole 'ghetto' concept.

And I, too, have used the backspace a bit :)

Jenna said...

thanks, jenn. this was helpful. but, I want one more thing: Your definition of ghetto.

"Ghetto is definitely a mentality so a nonBlack with much money can also be ghetto."

I agree. And yet, I can't define the mentality.

Furthermore, I have to admit that I totally misuse the word out of laziness (or lack of vocabulary) sometimes. I think I've actually said, "My hair is so ghetto," (or something equally absurd) and not really said anything because no definition of ghetto applies.

FYI, most people are Somali or Spanish at my grocery store. And the guys who give the dats-right-gurl look don't all fall into one race. (I rarely use that term b/c I believe we are all one race...but that's another discussion...) The one thing those guys usually have in common is that they are young and cocky.

(maybe I should have used the backspace more this time!)

Anonymous said...

I'd say that, physically, the ghetto is a poor section of the city... mentally, I'd say that ghetto is a poverty stricken mindset... that, no matter where one goes, due to being used to being poor or in poverty, they continue to carry that mindset... they overindulge in things because they are not used to having them, OR they ruin nice things because they are not used to having them. Because many (not all, but many) people in poor areas have to rely on handouts, they don't have a sense of what it means to work hard for something, so yea - there's a sense of a lack or responsibility that prevails. Does this make sense?

Where I live in NE Philadelphia, I see this a lot. I live in the 'hood' which consists of Blacks, Whites, Latinos, etc. It is the ghetto in both the physical and mental sense.

Jenny said...

Wow, interesting comment thread! Jenn, thanks for the good discussion. I, too, like the diversity of our ghetto Cub. As long as I don't go at night. Then, I'm positively frightened. I did that once and never again.

My favorite Lake Street Cub memory is when there was a full-blown, full-volume Mariachi Band in the produce section. I had to excuse myself around a trumpeter to get to the potatoes I wanted.

Jenna said...

i'm so jealous i missed it.

i think we're speaking the same language here. you're a bit more articulate than myself, so i'm glad you generated the discussion.

no. i'm kidding. but seriously, we just need a "jen" and "jennifer" to round out this convo.

Anonymous said...

I found the comment thread here to interesting. I also use the word 'ghetto' quite liberally, yet have never given much thought to what I meant by it. I definitely don't connect it to race but I do to poverty level . . . or what appears to be poverty level-mindedness.

Interesting thoughts!

God Bless.