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Dad, and His ADHD, Lost in the Supermarket

Like any good grocery shopper, I have a list, but it never does me any good. I always forget something important, because eventually, the list goes in my pocket, and then it might as well be on Mars.

I’m in Safeway trying to get my shopping cart past the fresh-baked oatmeal raisin walnut cookies and into the produce section. But I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do.

This is the weekly grocery shopping, and before you ask, yes, I have a list, and I remembered to bring it with me. It’s right here in my hand. Not that it does any good. I always forget something important, no matter how many circles or boxes I draw around it, because eventually, somewhere in the supermarket, the list goes in my pocket, and then it might as well be on Mars — I won’t see it again until I discover its remnants in the bottom of the clothes dryer. But that’s not the problem, right now. Right now, it’s the cookies. Should I get some?

If I do get them, should I get two of the 18-count boxes? That seems extreme since the kids don’t like raisins or walnuts in their cookies, so there’s no disguising the fact that this purchase is just for fat, old me. But my wife, Margaret, also likes them, but not nearly with the intensity that I like them — though she’s been known to plow through a bunch, given the right DVD on the tube. So if I don’t get the extra box, it’s possible that not enough cookies will survive after I get them home for me to get the deep satisfaction of an even dozen fresh Safeway oatmeal raisin cookies sitting next to me late at night in the white china mixing bowl on the end table along with my iced tea and detective novel. So maybe the cookies aren’t the whole problem.

Maybe since I no longer drink, smoke, do drugs, or stay out late catting around with those that do, I’ve made these particular cookies my drug of choice. These innocent snacks are my last living sin. And I treat them with the same hypomanic, hyperfocused, obsession that I used to bring to booze, cigarettes, drugs, and haunting after-hours clubs. I never grab and dump the cookies into the cart. I always carefully pull a package from the back of the display, checking the date stamps to get the freshest, and then put them gently in the little shopping cart baby seat. Now, I’ve told myself to stop with this, already. I don’t need these cookies to be happy. (Yes I do, I do!) And I certainly don’t need any more sugar in my diet. (Who cares? So what?) Why deny yourself? To see if you can. Is that a reason? It should be. Why? Oh, shut up. No, you shut up.

I’m putting the cookies back on the display kiosk for the third time, determined to kick the habit and get to the broccoli just fifteen feet on the other side, when I hear my name called.

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There’s a familiar-looking woman trying to get her cart around where I’ve blocked the aisle for anywhere from five minutes to a year — I have no way of knowing. She shakes her head and smiles as I rejoin what’s called reality by everyone else. I wonder if I’ve been talking out loud. That would not be a good sign.

“Frank, I thought that was you. You seemed so preoccupied. I didn’t want to disturb you, but you’re kind of holding up traffic here.”

Then I remember her. It turns out she used to work on a show with me. She’s good at her job and we always got along well. We get out of the way of other carts and do a quick catch-up and she says she saw my attention deficit disorder show when I did it here in town. Whew, she says, you really are crazy, and she twirls her finger by her temple in the universal nutso sign. We both laugh. “Are you okay?” she asks.

I assure her I am, was just you know…thinking for a second. No, she says, she means in the larger sense, are you handling life okay? Yes, fine, really. Super. Thanks.

She heads off and I wince to myself. Hawaii is a small place and I fear pretty soon folks we know will hear about me standing in the middle of Safeway playing with cookies and mumbling to myself.

Maybe so, but I can’t worry about that. I need to get broccoli, bananas, and…and where did I put the grocery list?

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