Grocery Shopping

I love to eat and I am really good at it. And while going out to eat at a restaurant is always nice, there is no place more exciting to me than the supermarket.

First of all the market is a super one, they even put the word in the title. But in addition to being super, it is only there that you can find food in all its forms. It is truly the land of possibility. Aisles upon aisles of frozen foods, hot foods, room temperature foods, all screaming, begging for you to pull them off the shelf and take them home.

Rich! Rich! See how good I look in my packaging? You know you want me!

But there is one key factor necessary to ensure a successful trip to the supermarket: A person must know how to buy groceries.

I am not that person.

For as much as I love going grocery shopping, I actually have no idea what I’m doing. I mean not even half a clue. I think most guys don’t. It’s built into our DNA from our days as hunters. We don’t compare and we don’t inspect labels. We just grab.

Have you ever read about a caveman inspecting the nutrition value on a dead tiger? What about comparing the value of one dead antelope to another?

No of course not. They see, they take home, and they eat.

And that is exactly how I grocery shop. Oh look a jelly, boom, done. Are those eggs? Boom, in the cart. I know I should be looking for certain price points, and nutritional values, but I have a limited amount of time in a grocery store before my brain just shuts down and I start overfilling my cart with protein bars and boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.



God I love cinnamon toast crunch. (Interesting side note: I have never in my life closed a box of cinnamon toast crunch, if I open one, I immediately eat the entire contents and then just throw out the empty box)

Men are susceptible to easily found items. Spending time foraging in a supermarket is not really our thing. I’m actually not sure why all the staples aren’t located right next to the cash register. I mean operating on that mentality in the current setup most of us would survive only on Beef Jerky, Juicy Fruit, and a copy of US Weekly.

You will never see a man looking as confused as he will standing in the aisle of a supermarket. What it really comes down to is that men get into trouble when we are given choices.

Confronted with a hot blonde and a hot brunette, we will inevitably try to go for both. Faced with a shirt that we don’t know whether to dry clean or launder, we will do neither.

That is why the grocery store is a perfect storm of possible poor decisions. The first time I went grocery shopping in my freshman year of college, I made a grocery list. And even though the actual paper list is now gone, I have unconsciously stuck to that grocery list on every single shopping trip since.

After college there was that 2 year gap where my roommates (parents) did the grocery shopping for me so I didn’t have to worry about it. But I have now been in my current apartment for almost 2 years and I realize I buy the exact frigging things I bought in college every time I go to the super market.

Walking into a grocery store is such a confusing experience; nowhere else do I feel so excited and confused at the same time. It’s like a calculus class taught by a playboy bunny. My ability to purchase groceries depends on what meal I am buying for.

Breakfast? No problem. In fact it is usually the first collection of items in my cart. Waffles, yogurt, juice, fruit, cereal, and granola. Heck, I could do it with my eyes closed.

Lunch? Um, ok, we can do this. I fluster a little bit. A loaf of bread seems right, maybe some turkey, maybe some mustard… and then my mind goes blank. I have no idea what else to buy myself

Dinner? I look down in my cart and see I have 35 chicken breasts and a carrot.

But I think one of my other problems with the grocery store is I only know how to buy food for meals. I have no idea what to buy for the in-between. This would explain why my fridge usually looks like this.



I go to the grocery store and spend well over a hundred dollars on food (not paper towels or tissues or sponges but actual food) only to get home and realize… I have absolutely nothing to eat.

HOW THE HELL IS THIS POSSIBLE?

But this will not stop me from walking over to my kitchen and opening my fridge every 10 minutes as though THIS will be the time I figure out the meal I can make out of yogurt, chicken stock, and beer.

And I’m so bad at coordinating my meals with my schedule that I frequently end up wasting food because I either overbuy food during a week when I’m not coming home for dinner, or I forget it’s in my fridge and pull it out with a thin layer of blue fur.

At which point I dry heave and trip over myself trying to throw it in the trash.

So to avoid being wasteful I started buying frozen…. Everything. Frozen vegetables, frozen chicken. I even freeze my tequila! My fridge may be half empty but my freezer is so jam packed it looks like a cold war bomb shelter ice box.



People who open my freezer might wonder what it is that I know that they don’t.

Even if I do manage to keep my food fresh I still find myself buying the same ingredients over and over again because I make the same things pretty regularly. Since I live by myself I’m not really trying to impress anybody. As long as the fire department doesn’t show up when I use my skillet, I am impressed.

The only time I buy new ingredients is when I’m making a new dish. The only time I make a new dish is when, let’s say, I have a date. And I go on a date about once every… 18 months. So at this rate I should know how to make about 6 things by the time I get married.

Unless of course the woman I marry happens to be incredibly wealthy in which case we can eat out every night.

Now that I think about it, that is a way better idea than trying to get my wife to like chicken stock beer yogurt. Yea forget grocery shopping, I’ll just marry rich.

Textual Face Googling

The handoff, in American Football, is defined as a play in which the quarterback, who starts every play with the ball, literally hands the ball to another player on his own team, transferring responsibility for moving that ball to someone else.


I would like to propose a new definition.


The handoff, in American societal communication, shall from this point on, refer to the moment in time when a person uses one of the following phrases; "I'll text you later. Are you on Facebook?" or "Google it!" to transfer the responsibility for communication to someone else.


By using these phrases people are literally saying, they would rather take the chance of not speaking to you later, as opposed to definitely finishing your interaction now.





These 3 phrases have turned useful and fulfilling communication with other human beings into something delayed, hollow, and extremely ridiculous.


My sister dated a guy once that we all referred to as "The Texter." This individual, while seemingly normal enough in person, was apparently incapable of dialing and talking into a phone. His primary form of communication was text messages. If he was proposing a date, drinks , or just checking in, he did it all through text message.

He was, in essence, a 14 year old girl.


Now I will not deny the importance of text messaging. I do it all the time. In fact, I text so much that I recently had to increase the amount of text messages I am allowed every month as part of my plan.


My friends and I use the text message as a supplementary form of communication. Not as the form. But as time marches on, I see more and more people using texts as the sole way they interact with others.

This guy my sister dated was physically incapable of calling her to schedule plans. Perhaps it is because we have made typing so second nature that talking to people actually made him uncomfortable.

We are dividing ourselves out from the responsibility of face to face contact. In fact, I am pretty sure that within the next decade we will start seeing "Google it" popping up on people's tombstones.


Some time ago, when I still believed in the gym, I was there (getting huge obviously) and I overheard 2 people talking. It was a guy hitting on a girl who was obviously not interested. It was a painful situation. So painful in fact that I considered dropping a dumbbell on my own face so I wouldn't have to watch it anymore.

This guy is rambling on and on and I can't look away. It was like a really long, slow, car accident. He was completely oblivious to how much this girl didn't want to be talking to him.


In the span of 5 minutes this clown told this girl to "Google it" three times. Once about some band he liked, once about his tour guide from his trip to Israel, and by the third time he said it I didn't catch the reference. I was too busy eyeing a sizable weight to end my misery.


Google it? No. That girl didn't want to Google it. She's not taking notes. She's not a reporter OK? You are not hitting on Lois Lane. This is a conversation not a press conference.

Don't tell me to Google things because I am not going to. If I wanted to google it I would have Googled it before I left the house. I want you to tell me what it is. Now. That is the point of having a conversation. And if you don't know what it is, you shouldn't be talking about it in the first place. I will not Google it. I will not Wikipedia it. How dare you turn nouns into verbs on me? Why don't you go Google it and talk to me when you have some actual knowledge?


A hundred ago when somebody didn't know what something was, they didn't say;


Hey go dictionary it.

or

You should library it.


No. They just, of their own volition, got up and looked it up. I don't need you to tell me what knowledge I don't have. Go find your own knowledge.


Idiot.


But I think the ultimate slap in the face is the one that Facebook hath brought upon us.

Long ago in olden times, when people wanted to become friends or stay in touch with somebody they'd just met, they made their best efforts to do so. What started as, "May I stop by your home sometime?" eventually evolved to, "Can I get your number?" and has finally settled on, "Are you on Facebook?"


I remember the first time it happened to me. It was my last semester in college and I ran into somebody I wanted to keep in touch with. I was about to say "Hey give me your number and we can chat" but before I could say that I was hit with;

Are you on Facebook?

Oh. Oh I see how it is.


Facebook has become the consolation prize of friendship. Too lazy or uncaring to ask for a phone number, we offer up a half assed "Are you on Facebook?"


We do it so much so that it has practically become mandatory for all interactions.


So basically what you are saying is instead of spending 10 seconds putting 7 digits into your phone and pushing save, you are telling me you are going to go home, turn on your computer, get on the interweb, log on to Facebook, search for my name (pending you can spell it correctly) click the button that says "add as friend" and then wait for between 3 and 15 days while I make you sweat it out on whether or not I will accept your friendship so as not to make you think that I am a a loser with nothing else to do but sit on Facebook 23 hours a day and instantly respond to any and all requests that come my way.


And then, finally I will click "accept" so that instead of being a person of moderate relevance in your cellular phone, I can be added, and probably lost, amongst the hundreds of "friends" you are "connected to" on Facebook.


Yea, you are right. That is way better than pushing 8 buttons.


I suppose it's better than actually becoming friends. In fact, if you want to become friends with me, you should probably just go through my blog.


And if you don't know the address, well... just Google it.

It's Raining, Lesbians!

I had been trying to get together with a friend of mine for a couple of months with no success. Work and prior obligations prevented us from finding a date that worked for both of us. But a couple of weeks ago I got an email from her.

She told me that a friend of a friend of hers had a yacht. And every summer this fine individual rents out said yacht to a group of 50 people for a nighttime sail around the island of Manhattan. The price was 50 bucks for a spot on the boat, snacks, and all the beer and wine you could drink. It was first come first serve.

I was all aboard.

Normally I don't get too excited about boats (several different motion sickness experiences) but I was pretty pumped about this boat trip. I had hit a lull in my life lately. I hadn't done anything new or made any new friends in a while and I was hoping for something to bring some new energy to my existence. The boat held the promise of that.

Aside from my dear sweet friend who invited me, I would know almost nobody on the boat. Perfect! A bunch of strangers would be trapped at sea (or river) with no escape. They would have to become my friends. I would make them love me. Be my friend or walk the plank.

Now, I've done boat cruises around Manhattan before and they are nice enough. But be they after proms or other special events you often end up trapped on an abused, cramped, indoor, megaboat with a bunch of hideous Jaeger swilling folk from the suburbs.

I mean no offense because I used to be one of them... from the suburbs, not a Jaeger swiller.

So when the day of the yacht trip came I was excited to be on a small boat full of beers with a bunch of good people that had come pre-recommended by my friend. To get to the yacht though was actually quite involved.

I had to leave Manhattan, the island I was currently on, to get on a boat to go to New Jersey, where I would get off that boat and get on our yacht, to sail around the island I had been on in the first place.

When my friend and I arrived at the dock, she saw a large group of her friends had already gathered. The girl coordinating the whole trip had a mohawk. How could you not like that?

But as I was introduced to people and started shaking hands, I noticed something. There were a lot of girls. I mean that didn't really surprise me because no matter what I do, many women have chosen to do the same things. All of my jobs since college have been in departments of all women, the writing classes I take are largely female, heck, even my knitting circle is all women. I mean come on!

So I shook every woman's hand, all 20 of them. Very nice girls, smiling, laughing, holding hands, kissing.

Wait, what?

I think this is a good time to point out that my friend who invited me is a lesbian. So when she said I would be seeing a lot of her friends I figured I would be meeting some lesbians. I did not know that everyone would be a lesbian.

So myself and the lesbians all headed to New Jersey to meet up with some more friends who would be joining us on the yacht. We arrived and found them. More girls. Standing in pairs. Holding hands.

So we get on the boat and find some spots and get ready to set sail, but we can't leave because of the threat of lightning. Apparently lightning is bad for boats. I had already paid my 50 bucks so I wasn't going to go home at this point.

While sitting and waiting, myself and the lesbians quickly went through all of the beer that had been put out. We started discussing what the owners of this boat had meant by "all you can drink." I'm no redneck but I can drink more than 1 beer. I mean is that all they thought I could do? Just because I was on a boat full of women didn't mean anything. Let's not start judging others. OK boat people?

As I glanced around at my shipmates, some 30 lesbians, a trio of straight guys, and 1 straight girl, I started getting the feeling I was filming a spot for an alternative lifestyle cruise.

"Hey there, are you tired of being straight? Do you hate being around people of the opposite sex? Try hanging out with a boat full of lesbians! Set sail on the Lez-Boat! It will change your perspective."

This was becoming a recurring theme in my life.

I had come out to make some new friends and have a good night. I wasn't looking for anything more. Certainly I wasn't hoping for a Match.com boat or anything. But as I looked around the good ship estrogen, I noticed something else. There was only 1 other single, straight, male on the boat and I felt bad for him. Because while this boat was full of women, this was the worst place on earth to actually flirt with one.

You see every guy has had feelings for a girl in a relationship. Somewhere in our hearts we harbor (boat joke) some hope that these women will abandon their dooshy boyfriends and date us. That is always a possibility in our minds. Chances are slim, but they are still there.

But girls in relationships with other girls, even if they break up with those girls, they are only going to date another different girl. It doesn't matter if she is single or married, or a swinger, you my straight friend are not even part of the equation.

Thankfully another cooler of beers appeared which squashed my existential thoughts of dating. And we also left the dock at the same time. So I forgot my theorizing and threw back some beers as we sailed on the low seas.

Though muggy it was a beautiful night and we were starting to really enjoy the night.

Until of course, it started to pour.

I'm not sure if there is a speed limit on the Hudson River, but the speed that makes casually cruising around Manhattan on a summer night a delightful affair, is not nearly fast enough for avoiding a squall full of wet thundery lightning.

On the boat there was a flurry of activity as we grabbed our jackets and hoodies and ponchos and huddled around each other trying to stay dry. And the boat sped off into the night... at 4 miles an hour.

DAMN IT BOAT LET'S GO!

It was like being in a geriatric episode of Miami Vice. It was like if you were completely engulfed in flames and tried to put yourself out by walking leisurely around the park.

I came to terms with the fact that our boat was not going to break any sort of speed records and resigned myself to just getting drenched with the rest of my new lesbian friends. In fact by the time I got back to the dock I was soaked to the bone and completely gross.

But it didn't really matter because no woman would have found me attractive anyway.

I do love my life.

The Dating Manifesto - Part 2

So I started thinking about what my friends do to meet people. What were their tactics? What techniques did they use? How could I meet the pretty pretty ladies?

My generation, Generation Y, or the Google Generation, or whatever the heck we are, is not a generation that dates. We cut our teeth on Instant Messenger, and by the time we were old enough to start having actual relationships, we could do the whole thing via email. We are a generation more comfortable with sending text messages than sending flowers.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I have a couple of friends who went on Match.com. I’m not generally a fan of any kind of online space, book, or internet social networking in general. But I had one friend in particular who was encouraging me to give it a shot. She was really curious and wanted to have a buddy to try it with. So I did what any good friend would do.

I let her try it by herself.

And she was very disappointed with the results. I was sad for her. So for research purposes only, and to see what all the fuss was about, I did a little tooling around on Match.com.
Seriously, for research purposes only.

In order to create a profile, Match.com asks you some very specific questions about who you are, what you want, and the person you want to meet.

For instance, it asks you to check off your best physical feature. It has many options including, but not limited to, hands, eyes, feet, and belly button. Now while it may be humorous and cute to tell people your belly button is your best feature, can you imagine if your best physical feature used to be attached to an umbilical cord?

Picture introducing your future Match.com bride to your friends. She probably looks like the wrong end of a pork roast and the first time your friends see her they cringe.

“But oh no” you say, “Don’t judge her yet. Sweetie, show them your naval!”

It also asks you what your turn-ons are. It gives you a list of options and asks you to check off whether or not you think certain things are turn-ons. This includes 2 that I have issues with.
Skinny Dipping and Thunderstorms.

Skinny Dipping? Well let’s just think about this. The fundamental goal of any male since puberty has been to see women naked. So if someone you’re attracted to you says, “Hey honey, I was thinking about going swimming, should we wear clothes or no clothes?” Are you really going to respond with, “Oh sweetie, please please, clothes ON, we get too much naked time together.”

And thunderstorms? Oh for chrissakes if you put that in your profile you deserve to have every idiot in the city show up at your door in mid-august with his “sounds of the monsoon” CD and a copy of The Perfect Storm on DVD.

Does anyone else find it abnormal that we are advertising our turn-ons on the internet? What’s next? Scenarios that make you feel insecure? Foods that give you diarrhea?

Match.com also gives you the option to “wink” at somebody. Of course this isn’t a real wink, but a virtual wink. And someone can virtually “wink” back at you. Just in case emailing someone whom you already know everything about from the safety and comfort of your couch is too scary … you can just virtually greet them… like an 8th grader.

Which probably means you have virtually no ability to talk to the opposite sex, which is why your dating on the internet.

Creep.

It also asks you to check off whether or not you want kids. That makes sense to me. Why waste your time dating somebody who ultimately is looking for something completely different? But people specify how many kids they want. That intimidates me. What if I can’t provide you with 3 children? What if it turns out my boys can’t swim? Are you going to divorce me? God this is stressful.

And I think that’s my problem with Match.com. A lot of people find themselves on the website because they can’t meet a decent individual to begin with or they are just frustrated with the dating scene. And then once you get on the site, it enables you to be so incredibly specific on what you’re looking for and how you see yourself, that it almost makes it more difficult because you can be even more discerning.

It becomes too targeted. It’s like hunting. You’re hunting for a partner. Awww how cute.

When people put that much of themselves out there for others to see. It becomes too easy to judge. I know it’s something I’m guilty of. It almost takes all the fun out of getting to know somebody. I’d rather just repress all of the horrible weird things about myself and let somebody get to know me for 2 or 3 years before I become comfortable enough to reveal them.

But what I call fun, maybe others call stress. Perhaps when you know all the basics about somebody, you’re free to dig deeper and get to know them on a more intimate level beyond just turn on’s and favorite movies.
But for as flawed as Match.com may seem, can any of us really fault anybody for using it?

It didn’t come about for no reason. It can be so difficult to meet quality humans in this city, nay, any city. And as all of our socializing is marching towards an almost exclusively electronic medium, we are left with fewer real life options. We are posting, poking, and texting, to a complete and total social incompetence. It’s no wonder so many young attractive singles are left feeling jaded and lonely.

So I don’t fault Match.com, and I don’t fault the people who use it. In fact, I applaud them for the bravery and courage they show by putting themselves out there in front of millions and millions of weirdos, kooks, and other alumni of To Catch a Predator.

All I know is Match.com is not for me. And until they add eyelashes as a feature, or I get a better looking belly button, I will probably avoid it at all costs.

The Dating Manifesto - Part 1

Dating in New York City is a bit of an endangered species these days. The days of meeting someone, asking for their number, and then eventually engaging in courtship are mere memories. While I think the rest of the country is gradually saying goodbye to dating, the geography and lifestyle of New York City is sending dating as we know it to an accelerated death.

For anyone who has ever looked at a map of New York City it would seem that everyone who lives in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, or the Bronx (we don’t include Staten Island) would be within a short drive of dating each other. But in a city where over 50 percent of the people take public transportation and almost nobody owns a car, nobody is a short drive from anybody.

People in the city tend not to date anybody who lives more than 2 trains away. In other words, if you have to transfer trains more than once to see somebody, odds are you are not going to date that person.
And for people like me who live in Queens, I am considered G.U. Geographically Undesirable. It’s like Manhattanites think I was outcast to Queens because I’m a polygamist or I have the Mutaba virus. In a city of 8 million people you can understand why traveling more than 15 minutes to see somebody might seem unnecessary. 

Sometimes when I tell people I live in Queens I feel like I’m telling them I live in Kazakhstan. The facial expressions alone are priceless. Usually people jerk their head back a little bit and say something like, “Oh… How do you like it?” They say this because they don’t want to say “HOLY CRAP WHERE IS THAT?!”
And I’m fine with that, because I love my place. I don’t have a roommate, and I can walk around with no pants on whenever I so choose.

My place is awesome. It looks like a man lives there and I TOTALLY want to be a man one day. But I do live in Queens, and while I have been told owning an apartment makes me a “catch” it’s kind of hard to drop that into a conversation with someone the first time you meet them. Certainly you can’t just slide it in without seeming like a complete a-hole.

Girl: Hey I’m Carly
 Me: That reminds me of this time I was paying my mortgage.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Just meeting people is really the hardest part. Those outside the New York City area might not understand. They might think since there are so many people, you must meet people everyday. And you do, but those are one-off interactions. You are not making friends every time you bump into somebody on the street.

The social set-up is such that you can’t really hang out with anybody without spending money. Friends typically don’t just hang out at each other’s apartments. Probably because everybody lives in a different corner of the city, or they have 3 roommates they can’t stand or because their living room is the size of a Bran Muffin. Most hanging out takes place at a pub after work or at a bar on the weekend. And that gets expensive.

Sometimes a friend will say to me “Hey Rich do you want to go get a drink after work?” But because drinks are so expensive in Manhattan, what they are really saying to me is “Hey Rich do you hate money?”
My answer is almost always yes. It is a necessary evil of New York City, and I have come to accept that because I love my friends more than I love being fiscally sound.

If you take into account the fact that most hanging out is taking place at bars and add the common opinion that you don’t meet quality people at bars, then meeting quality people becomes a fundamental problem.
While the people you meet in bars seem normal enough and may even be attractive, there is always one question that triggers the nuclear bomb of crazy to get dropped. You might ask them what they do for a living and you find out they run a rescue shelter out of their van for gay cats. Ohhhh, ok, no thank you.
So where are the attractive quasi-normal people?

There are so many beautiful women in the city, but I rarely see them out in the places I enjoy hanging out. I see them walking past me on the street, at the lunch spot, or on the subway. They just never end up at the same place as me during free time. No, I only go to places where you can find school buses full of obnoxious troll women.

It just doesn’t make sense because Manhattan has beautiful women in droves. Actresses and models prance through this city like its their playground. How come I can’t find out where they are hanging out?
Sometimes when I pass the beautiful women on the street I want to stop them and ask them where they are going. Not because I want to follow them in some creepy way (I kind of do) but I just want to know where their people go out. Like that meatpacking plant full of models on Seinfeld.

And though I may see a beautiful woman on a bench, or on the subway, the only people who talk to strangers in this city are either homeless or clinically insane. I on the other hand try to conceal my crazy.
So what can we do? What options do we average folk have? If we are not trolls and not models, is there some last resort for meeting humans in a city of anonymity?

Surely there must be.

To Be Continued.