Angela Huston

Like so many other adjustments we have experienced this past year, we have had to alter the way we do our grocery shopping. There was a time when the excursion pleasantly served as an opportunity to see friends and neighbors. Now we are never quite sure if that masked person six feet away is actually someone we know or not.

Lately, I have noticed more men pushing the carts, with or without spousal accompaniment, which makes me wonder:

A) Do husbands now join their wives on trips to the store more frequently than they did before?

B) Do men occasionally make trips on their own to relieve their wives of this constant task?

C) How many men have become the main grocery shopper?

Since retiring some years ago, my husband began coming along to do the grocery shopping with me on a regular basis; in addition to being a great help to me, it became a very social outing for him. It seems there are untold numbers of husbands who have assumed the job of cart-pusher and even bagger at the check-out.

His assistance is definitely a valuable asset, when it does not interfere with his visiting time with other men engaged in the same task. When it does, I often wind up carrying around an armload of items because he has stopped to compare notes, perhaps with another veteran, or be drawn to a more appealing aisle, where there are goodies.

My husband has always willingly made quick runs to the grocery store when I needed something but could not stop what I was doing. That can be extremely helpful - unless the list of two or three items I need grows like Topsy as he cruises the aisles.

Once I asked for four donuts from the bakery; he brought home four boxes! Another time I needed three melons; he returned with 11 (they were on sale!). I spent days freezing melon balls, great for winter eating, but I think I developed carpal tunnel in the process - up to my shoulder!

I know only a few men who are almost completely responsible for purchasing the weekly groceries, an admirable quality, I am sure, but it, too, can have its pitfalls. Unless he also does the cooking, the wife is left to create meals with whatever he brings home. If my husband ever became the prime shopper, our meals would be planned around sweets, treats, and goodies!

When I shop, I focus on things we need, which, in addition to nourishing foods, includes detergents and toilet tissue and light bulbs. His goal is to seek the treats. He could unearth the cookies and candy even if they were hidden behind the bleach and sanitizers, which are merely obstacles to be ignored.

It is almost time to venture back to the store to replenish the larder. I will take my trusty list of necessities and he will set his sights on checking out every available goodie, all of which are so prominently displayed throughout the store, some of which will be discreetly smuggled into the cart while I go in search of cannisters of wipes.

To his credit, and for which I am kinda/sorta the secretly grateful beneficiary of all his helpful efforts, he always remembers my lifelong weakness for ice cream. The least I can do is continue to turn a blind eye to those donuts that will ride alongside the apples on the check-out counter belt.

Some would call my ignorance of that ploy concession, some would call it a peculiar form of compromise. I prefer to think of it as an unspoken, but mutually understandable communication system called a loving gesture.

Onward to the store for sweets, treats, goodies, and ice cream!