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“Let’s go get a car cart!” screamed Grant at the top of his lungs as his father put the car in park.
Wincing at the loud noise in a small enclosed car, he turned around to look at Grant. “We ever going to make inside voices a thing or should I just get hearing aids now?” Seeing Grant’s confusion at his annoyed attempt at exaggeration, he added, “Don’t worry, we can go look for a car cart. Just remember, inside voices buddy.”
For the love of God, please one day stop screaming constantly.
The duo embarked from their vehicle, holding their reusable shopping bags, and started their walk into HEB. Grant referred to it as “H….E…B!!!” while his father simply called it “The greatest grocery establishment this side of the Mississippi, and the other side.”
He held Grant’s hand as they strode to the carts and said: “You remember what HEB is, Grant?”
Grant looked up. “The best grocery store this side of the Mis-uh-lippi?”
Goddamn right, son.
“Yep, that’s exactly right. You going to help me get all the stuff on my list?”
“Let’s get a car cart!”
I’ll take that as a yes.
“Yeah, buddy, if they’ve got one available, we will grab it,” but as they got closer to the carts he didn’t see any carts decorated to resemble race cars.
He had mixed feelings regarding the car carts. While they kept Grant entertained with their steering wheel and facing forward, as opposed to facing him while he pushed and asking for a cookie every three minutes, they didn’t come without a few drawbacks.
Shaped like a race car, they handled more similar to an Oregon Trail-era wagon with two broken wheels and were likely filled with whatever germs the 57 previous kids who sat in it were carrying. With he and Grant both fresh off a stomach bug the last thing he wanted was some goddamn stranger throwing him right back into the puking saddle.
He pulled a normal cart up. “Well, buddy, looks like they’re all being used today, let’s grab this one and get shopping.”
Dismayed, Grant looked at the cart then back to his father. “Can we go look at the other side of the store…please???” Torn between not wanting to be a pushover, but also not wanting his child to be in a pissy mood because of this stupid cart he said, “Sure, let’s go take a look.”
Upon arrival to the other side of the store entrance, Grant let out a victorious cheer and an awkward preschooler fist pump before sprinting to a ragged ass car cart with peeling red paint and a used tissue in the seat.
Great, I’m sure this thing won’t give us tuberculosis.
Once he wiped down the handle and seat thoroughly, he picked up Grant and set him down in it, and off they went.
He pushed the cart as Grant gripped the steering wheel and turned it vigorously. Ignoring that his child drives like a maniac, he pulled up his grocery list and started flying through the aisles.
Over the past few years, once he left college and his grocery list expanded beyond Ramen, beer, and cigarettes, he’d become an efficient machine when it came to grocery shopping. He navigated his local HEB Plus like he was Bane in the darkness. He was born into it, molded by it.
Only a few things could really hinder him from filling his cart with solely what he needs, and not too much more, in roughly thirty minutes.
Senior citizens stopping to admire Grant and tell him “What a cute little boy” he was, used to really cut into his time. But the farther away he’d gotten from being a cute baby and the more he turned into a “Wow that kid just stuck his finger in his nose and tried to wipe it on a can of black-eyed peas” the less he was stopped by admiring adults who wished their adult children would reproduce already.
Grant himself was normally a trooper when it came to the grocery store; he just normally fake drove his car cart and would ask the occasional “How much longer until we’re done?” On some days, however, he just wanted to watch the world burn.
“Hey Daddy,” Grant said, turning his wheel into a direction that would’ve sent them careening into tortilla chips had the wheel been real, “I’m hungry.”
“Yeah me too, bud, that’s why we’re at the grocery store picking up food.”
“I want to eat now, I’m really hungry.”
“…I get that buddy, we’ve got no food at home, that’s why we’re getting it here.”
His voice rising and shaking slightly, Grant escalated “Butttt I really want to eat now, I want lunch now!”
If this child has a public meltdown about eating food in a place where you buy food then irony is dead.
Despite knowing never to match a child’s escalating intensity, he somewhat snapped back with “Remember when I offered you french toast or scrambled eggs this morning, and you went with a small bowl of Cheerios? How about tomorrow we have a big breakfast so you won’t need lunch at 10:30 in the morning.”
Grant wheeled around, one hand still on the wheel, staring at his father, like a driver who’s tired of the shit he’s hearing from the person in the backseat. He started to backtrack a bit to de-escalate. “What I mean is, bud, when you don’t eat a lot for breakfast, you’re going to get hungry sooner. We’re here buying your favorite things so we can go home and have a big lunch and..and…oh God, it’s your Uncle Frank.”
Grant’s Godfather and known dumbass Frank was striding towards them in the chip aisle, smiling wide. He was carrying a six-pack of Natty Ice and a bag of lentils. Grant smiled wide and started yelling joyously at him, while his father slightly grimaced.
He thought about addressing the strange combination in Frank’s hands but realized it just wouldn’t be worth the explanation. Instead, he opened with, “Frank, I’m honestly kinda surprised to see you here. I figured you did all your grocery shopping at the gas station.”
Frank grinned while ruffling Grant’s hair with fingers that likely hadn’t been washed in quite some time “Nah man, needed to pick up a few things. Plus this place is loaded with MILFs.”
No one says MILFs anymore you fucking idiot, especially in front of a four-year-old.
“Ah, well… what have you been up to?” He pulled up his phone and started intently checking his list as to show Frank that he was really serious about getting out of this grocery store.
“Oh man, just the usual for me, you know the work grind!” He began thumb wrestling with Grant before continuing “Definitely looking forward to the big guy’s first soccer game in two weeks though!”
Oh no, he remembered.
Grant interjected, “I’m going to play soccer too with the big guy.” Frank reared back his arm for a fist bump/explosion combo. “You are the big guy dude!!” They fist bumped as Grant’s father, while somewhat thankful for the distraction provided by Frank, decided to get on with his shopping run.
“Alright Frank we’ve got a bunch of other stuff to get so I’ll hit you up soon. Grant, say bye to Uncle Frank.”
Frank dapped him up and left him with “I’m not doing anything tonight so I’ll come over, we can watch the Spurs game.”
He nodded, knowing that the fate of every bag of chips and beer he bought on this grocery run were now doomed to not make it to tomorrow. He hadn’t wheeled the cart halfway down the next aisle, canned veggies, before Grant shook off the Frank distraction and got back to his main mission.
“Daddy I’m really really hungry. A cookie would make me feel a lot better.”
Ah so that’s where you were going with this you little schemer.
“Cookies are for dessert and certainly not for 10:30 in the morning.”
“But a cookie would REALLY REALLY make me feel so much less hungrier. Grandma gives me cookies.”
I’m well aware that your grandmother giving you the massive cookies at the bakery is what is inspiring this.
He stared down at his list. Twelve unchecked items on the Wunderlist app stared him in the face. The fruits and veggies would be quick grabs, but he hadn’t quite settled on which dinner recipes he was going to be picking up. Normally he liked to take his time and see what inspired him in the moment, but with a ticking time bob driving a fake race car, he might not have that luxury.
Furiously debating in his own mind while staring at an increasingly more frustrated Grant, he thought about just obliging him with the free cookies at the bakery that are the size of his entire face. But then he remembered, this is America. And we don’t negotiate with terrorists.
“Sorry, bud. No cookie while we’re shopping. You can have dessert after a big lunch.”
Grant’s eyes welled up and he laid his head on the steering wheel. In a small miracle, he bit his lip and seemed to resign himself to his cookie-less fate, but not before uttering “You’re the meanest Daddy ever.”
Despite knowing kids say shit just to say shit, he winced slightly, as that never felt great to hear. But it wasn’t the first, wouldn’t be the last, and responding with “Buy your own damn food then you little monster” would likely be regrettable in this public scenario.
An old man who was down the aisle a few places examining applesauce like it was a new home purchase walked over and whispered in his ear, “Don’t sweat it young man, that ain’t shit. Just wait until you catch him stealing your booze.” .