Going to an organic health food shop is a dirty, guilty middle class pleasure of mine. It's a family outing, an event that doesn't happen very often. Truth be told, I really enjoy the people watching, and looking out for the walking talking cliches of society. Unfortunately, I ended up being one myself.
Here's how our recent trip to Wild Oats Natural Foods in Bristol didn't exactly go to plan.
It all started when the kid insisted on carrying the shopping basket. As usual, it was overloaded with expensive paraben free, fairly traded junk we thought we needed.
He was kicking off in the bulgur wheat aisle, trying to lift this thing like it was Excalibur stuck in the stone, all while grunting and toddlerswearing. It was like watching a dad trying to change a tyre for the first time; deeply painful to watch (I speak from experience).
I sympathise because I really recognise myself when he’s having a self-induced tantrum. It’s like someone's told him he can't look after the passports when going on holiday. An expert tutorial in what not to do if you want to keep me from losing my fricking mind.
So, whenever I gently tried to put an end to this painful scene, and offered to help and pick up one of the handles, he’d flail his arm around, screaming,“NO!”
Rule number one of health food shops: never, ever shout, unless you’re robbing the joint.*
*You will attract disapproving strangers, just like the ones in this blog.
|This. This is pretty much what it looked like.|
Anyway, there was a pregnant lady wandering around the shop at an ethereal pace. Let’s call her Earth Mother. With her head shaved, she was rubbing her belly with that trancelike blissful zen mode that expectant mums get. But I kept feeling like I needed to shoot her apologetic looks because the toddler was having deep, unresolved problems with his chakras.
My wife hissed, “STOP offering to help him. Let him carry the basket…”
This is a Dad's Diary nightmare. We’re causing a scene, and Earth Mother is looking at me with her calm half smile, like, “I forgive your child, because I’ve just been on the most wonderful retreat. You should try Buddhism one day, you really should.”
We had just become our own walking talking clichés, the arguing, hissing parents of a psychotic toddler. I began chucking obscure flavours of Pukka Herbs tea into the basket (the ones you can't get in mainstream supermarkets). I felt like a teetotal middle class white boy preparing for Glastonbury. Basically, an absolute tool.
I was now noticing all the disapproving looks, and one couple in particular stood out, because they were those young, hip, free spirits, and she had one feather hanging from an ear, no doubt a little memento she picked while she was finding herself in Peru, on a psychedelic ayahuasca trip. You know the type.
Just as this was happening, I heard my wife’s voice yelling from the next room, “Grab some nut butter, will you?”
NUT BUTTER? What sort of people have we become? And I go over there sheepishly, having a quick dilemma about which one to get. Does she mean cashew butter? Almond?
When we finally got to the till, I finally had some respite. The young couple from earlier were stood in front of us in the queue paying for their stuff. As they exited the shop, the man let out a loud sigh, an audible, painful sigh, and he whined, “I forgot to buy a croissant…”
Karma at last. I turned to my wife, put my thumb and forefinger together and made the universal hand gesture for ‘he needs some private time.’
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