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Hunting and Gathering

December 22, 2010

Zipping through the grocery for a couple items, I rounded a corner and headed down the baking aisle when I encountered a classic scene. A man was dialing his cell phone with a perplexed expression on his face. I unashamedly slowed down to hear his side of the conversation.

With mounting anxiety he said, “I see cornstarch, I see baking soda, I see baking powder, I see pancake mix but I don’t see any wheat germ. Do you think it could be somewhere else?” Smothering the urge to laugh out loud, I proceeded to find the few grocery items I needed. And then two aisles later, when I encountered the same man with a determined, I-am-going-to-find-the-wheat-germ-or-be-here-all-night expression, I had to turn my head when I passed him so he didn’t see me quietly laughing.

Being the chief hunter-gatherer in my home, translated that means chief grocery shopper-you know, the one who hunts and gathers the foods to sustain life in our abode, I have established a familiarity with the hunting grounds something I realize my husband doesn’t have. And on the rare occasion when I send my husband to do the hunting and gathering or when he specifically volunteers for the task, I find we experience something similar to the wheat germ scene. My husband doesn’t usually call me. Instead I get text messages that ask “make-up removing pads…oval or rectangle?” or “butter…salted or unsalted?” or “toothpaste…peroxide, tartar control, mint or cinnamon?”

I know my husband has an inordinate attention to detail, but these questions stem from some previous incidents from which he claims to be scarred. For instance, let’s say I sent him to buy stick cinnamon and he came back with ground cinnamon. When I said in a nice way, “I can’t use ground…why didn’t you buy the stick cinnamon?”  The response I was most likely to receive was, “Well, I got there and I got to thinking.” Oh no.

It took several trips and subsequent conversations over a few years for my husband to get my message that there is a time to be thinking and a time to not be thinking and when I send him to buy a specific item, wheat germ for instance, that would be a time to NOT be thinking. I expressed to him that he shouldn’t be thinking what would be even better than wheat germ, he shouldn’t be thinking what would be a good substitute for wheat germ, and he shouldn’t be thinking whether or not he even likes wheat germ. He just needs to buy the wheat germ and bring it home.

I need him to save that thinking for when the washing machine water is backing up into the basement or the stove stops working or the neighbor’s tree falls onto our yard and the neighbor says he is not responsible for the removal. Yes, that is when I need him to be thinking.

The man in the store looking for the wheat germ must have had similar conversations with his wife because he was definitely not thinking, he was calling his wife. The determination I saw in him leads me to believe that there is a wife out there somewhere who now has her wheat germ and a husband who can be confident in a job well done.


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