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Published on November 5th, 2013 | by Richard Black


Public Beatings at Whole Foods and Why I’m Happy to be an Older Parent

I used to love shopping for groceries. There was a time many, many years ago in my single days when I would have a six pack and then drive to the store to pick up whatever caught my eye.

Velveeta four pounds for three bucks? Sold.

Two dozen day old donuts for ten cents a pop? Why not?

Vienna sausage buy one get one free? I’ll take ten.

Canned meat, Velveeta and donut casserole had never tasted so good. Nor would it ever again.

My drunken shopping phase was a wonderful period in my life and one that, sadly, won’t be repeated until I’m in between wives, late fifties or both.

These days shopping for foodstuffs is a chore and drinking in the middle of the day to prep for a trip to the grocery store is now frowned upon instead of being “quirky”. I l blame society in general and my daughter and wife specifically.

To make matters worse I’ve bought into the whole organic, buy local, eat local, movement. This does not mean that I think that I’m better than anyone else. I’ve already thought that for some time. My ego has no relation to the food I buy I’m just simply a great guy.

Don’t get me wrong buying organic is a pain in the ass. To really do it right you’ve got to go to farmer’s markets during the summer, grow your own vegetables, belong to a CSA and then eat nothing but kale during the months of January to about May. The upside is that I tend to eat better food (not better tasting but better for me) than I would ordinarily. There’s nothing like seeing grass fed ground beef for sale at $12.99 a pound to put a man off grass fed beef or really any red meat at all.

With a daughter though I don’t have as much time to shop. Instead of visiting three or four different farmer’s markets and a vegetable stand manned by an aging hippie who always tried to sell me weed I’ve taken the easy moral choice and gone to Whole Foods. Fortunately morals weren’t the reason I got into the movement in the first place. Don’t get me wrong I truly believe that the localvore movement is better for the planet. I simply joined because I prefer my food with a bit less Round-Up than some people.

Still, even with the one stop shop of Whole Foods I’m still not happy. I’ve adjusted to grocery shopping in a moderately sober state but having a toddler in two pretty much ruins the experience. Shopping for anything with a toddler is like trying to wrangle an ADHD chimp in a store full of bananas or whatever in the hell else chimps eat.

To make matters worse my youthful enthusiasm for substance abuse has rendered me incapable of remembering anything for more than fifteen seconds whether I have a list or not. Toss an amped upped toddler who just ate a cookie to the mix and I’m well and truly fucked.

Instead of “shopping” most of what I end up doing is giving direction to Darcy.

“Stop, Freeze. This way. Get your hands off that floor. Don’t lick that baby.”

I’m usually lucky to walk out of the store with half of the items on my list and a slight tingling sensation in my left arm.

By the time I reach the checkout lane both Darcy and I are ready to strangle each other which is usually where the problems occur. Like any three year old Darcy is on the move and ready to go. Waiting in line patiently is not part of the program and she tends to dart towards the exit when given half a chance.

It seems as if the patrons of Whole Foods and I disagree on how to properly discipline a child. As of this entry I have spanked Darcy twice for bolting out of my sight and into the parking lot. Yes I spank my child but only when she puts herself in danger and when all other options have been exhausted. I don’t take a belt to Darcy or wallop the living shit out of her. I give her a firm slap to the thigh, much like one would give a lover in college but that’s another story.

Each time Darcy has made a run for it I yelled  for her to “freeze” in a commanding voice. I counted to three. I warned her of the consequences of her actions and most of the time these measures have worked quite well.

The two they didn’t my daughter looked at me thoughtfully, calculated her chances, and made a run for the doors.

Walking back to the checkout with a newly spanked child at Whole Foods is quite the experience. Heads swiveled around like they were on a greased pole to locate the horrible man who gave his screeching daughter two light swats to the leg.

As a younger man I may have been a bit embarrassed.

Pushing 40 I’m not. As I looked around at the patrons of the store I realized that I did not give a flying fuck in a rolling donut about their thoughts and opinions. I even thought about smacking a few other kids for good measure.

The only people who weren’t looking at me as if I was Hitler reincarnated were the men and women who worked at the store.

“I raised four,” the woman at the register told me once I was back, “and it’s the only way they learn.”

I paid up, gave the cashier a grateful smile and then slipped her a twenty before I hauled my groceries and my daughter to the parking lot. If I would’ve had a Ben Franklin I would have given it to her as well.

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