In less than a month, I’m going to see the ocean for the first time in three years. The event will be part of a larger party, which will involve heading down to Miami for a few frosty cocktail-filled days.
Yesterday, my girlfriends and I were texting back and forth about trip logistics. One of my girlfriends is going to arrive a day later, so we were discussing how my other girlfriend and I can get everything ready before she arrives.
Then I remembered what it’s like to group grocery shop for a trip. And I got so over-the-moon excited I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
I do so love a good group grocery shop.
To begin, you arrive at the grocery store in serious supplies-gathering mode. You’ve just come from checking into your condo and you are both excited for your vacation and hungry, so you are perfectly primed to make a whole bunch of spontaneous and celebratory decisions.
The first step is to walk inside the grocery store, which, because you’re on vacation, is part of a foreign grocery store chain. Like Publix. Or Harris Teeter. Or Albertsons. Or Wegmans (I’m still waiting to step in one of these). Invariably, deep in your mind, you think this foreign grocery store is going to be better than the one you have at home. Namely, there is going to be snacks on offer there you have never even heard of and they are going to change your life and, thereafter, are always going to remind you of the vacation that is right about to start.
So you grab a cart — yeah, a cart, not a basket — and you head to produce.
Let’s face it, in the group grocery shop, you don’t spend a lot of time in produce. Even when we would go skiing with my parents and their friends, who were 30 to 45 years older than us, we skimmed through produce with hardly a care. Maybe someone feeling responsible threw in a banana or two, maybe someone lobbed in a peach, but no one was on vacation to eat fruit and veggies. We’d just spent eight weeks eating salads to get ready for vacation, we sure weren’t going to eat them now.
So you head smoothly past produce. At this point, the group grocery shop tends to spoke out. Someone wants a specific milk for their coffee, someone is especially opinionated about coffee, someone likes green juice in the morning. So everyone splits up and one or two people stay with the cart.
It’s interesting how much breakfast is a priority on group vacations. Everyone silently agrees that the day’s first meal will be eaten at the condo and, quickly, you arrive at the question of eggs. Will your group go through a dozen in a week? Do you need two dozen? Should you just get an adorable six-pack? And then, if you’re going to eat eggs, do you need bacon? Who likes bacon? (The real question is: who don’t?)
With breakfast sorted and coffee staples acquired, the cart rolls on. At this point, someone may listlessly drop some deli turkey into the cart, but, really, lunch and dinner are often not major considerations. In fact, as the group grocery shop progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that what you’re really there for is vacation’s fourth meal: happy hour.
And that means snacks.
In my group grocery shops, charcuterie is always essential. So someone heads out to find mixed nuts and olives. Two people head out to debate cracker selection. You tell yourself you are completely within your rights to buy six different kinds of salami. And then you arrive at cheese.
Part of the reason why I never leave the cart is because I want a say when it comes to cheese. I want to consider it, I want to sniff it, I want to fall in love with it. In the meantime, pretty little wedges start piling up in the seat of the cart so that they don’t get crushed by the heavy hitters that are still to come.
Which means you’ve hit the chips and pop aisles. My girlfriends and I have already decided that we are going to get Bugles this vacation. I haven’t had a Bugle in about a decade, but no matter. I want them now. We may also go with Funyuns. And if there are some crazy flavors of potato chips we’ve never heard of, those may get added as well.
I’ve also already decided that I am finally going to try Justin’s peanut butter cups, no matter how expensive they are. And I’ll be on the lookout for some Floridian treats and desserts. Maybe something with orange (but not — good god, no — an actual orange). Maybe something with coconut. Just something local that makes us really feel like we’re really mining the depths of the local food culture.
I’ll tell you, dear readers, I can’t wait. And if I think about it long and hard enough, I feel like I can already picture myself there, listening to an instrumental version of a song by En Vogue or Ace of Base or, please, yes, Wilson-Philips.
I’ll start dancing in the aisles. We all will. Because it’s the group grocery shop.