creative writing · Humor

The Grocery Store of Dr. Moreau

A man who looks like a rhinoceros kept me from buying bread at the grocery store tonight.


See, the first time I headed down the bread aisle, it was crazy crowded. Our bread aisle is also the cracker aisle and the cookie aisle. It’s a popular aisle. I know it’s one of my faves. But, like I said, it was crazy crowded and so I skipped on to the next.

I go down what I call the International Food aisle. This is where you can pick up hoisin sauce or taco shells or Vegemite or Spotted Dick. I was grabbing a jar of alfredo sauce. I had the aisle to myself for a minute before a woman came stalking up my way with her grocery list in hand and her eyes focused like some sort of jungle cat on the prowl. Behind her trailed who I assumed was her husband, pushing the cart, looking bored, staring at the back of her head. When I turned my attention back to the huge sauce selections, I thought, “He looks like a rhinoceros.”

His eyes were just a tiny bit too far apart on his face. And though he didn’t have a horn, his nose was a little upturned. He was a large guy with broad shoulders, and it didn’t hurt (or help) that he was wearing a gray shirt. I wondered if anyone had ever told him he looked like a rhino. When he got closer we made eye contact. He politely smiled hello so I smiled a hello back. He continued to follow his wife and I grabbed a bottle of Ragu and headed to the next aisle.

This is what I call the drink aisle. Waters, juices, coffees, Kool-aides.  I was getting a mango flavored V8 Splash. My kids love that stuff (and between you and me, it doesn’t taste too bad with some Bicardi and ice). Cat-Woman and Rhino-Boy come hurdling down the aisle. But this is where it gets weird. This time as they passed, Rhino-Boy gives me a weird smirky smile and mouths the word HI. To tell the truth, I’m not sure how my face reacted to this, but Rhino-boy continued with that smirky smile, continued looking me in the eyes.

Guys might not get this, but I’m pretty sure all the women reading this will. You know when a guy gives you that look like he’s undressing you with his eyes? And he’s looking at you like he wants you to know what he’s doing? Almost like he’s proud of himself for being a gross pig? Yeah, it was that smile.

When I got to the end of the aisle, I really didn’t want to head to the next and risk running into Rhino-Pig. Luckily, I remembered I still needed bread. Thank God!

The bread aisle was still busy, but unlike last time, I wanted to be near all these strangers. The woman in front of me had 6 kids hanging off her cart and clinging to her body like monkeys. She looked about how you’d imagine, wore out and about to beat one or 3 of their asses. She was parked right where I needed to be, so I hung back and pretended to look at cookies. Then a young couple, probably newly weds, ended up behind me. They were holding hands and sighed loudly because this woman and her kids were inconveniencing their date night. The guy whispered something to his mate and she laughed like a hyena. I hate newly weds.

When the crowd began to break-up, guess who was waiting for me at the end of the aisle. I saw her first. Cat-woman bobbed and weaved her way past me. Rhino-Pig held back, unable to bob and weave through this crowd with his cart and ginormous shoulders.

This is where I got slightly panicked. I didn’t want to see this person. I didn’t want to have to exchange looks. I didn’t want him to mouth any other words to me. So I continue to stare at the cookie collection. And then when Mama Monkey and her 6 kids started to move, I grabbed a bag of Keebler something-er-others and tried to blend in with them. I didn’t look at Rhino-Pig. I looked at the filthy happy children in front of me and smiled at them. Rhino-Pig kind of grunted as I walked by and I pretended not to hear it. Ew is all I could think.

The rest of my trip goes smoothly. I finished my shopping, paid and left. Free at last from the Grocery Store of Dr. Moreau!

Too bad I couldn’t shake it from my mind.

That poor woman. She looked nice enough. I wonder if he cheats on her. I wonder if she loves him. I wonder who would actually mess around with him. Some people are so gross. But why would he think he’d have a shot with me? I mean first of all, I have a wedding ring on! And second, do I really look like the kind of woman who would lower herself to…that? I mean, I know I’m not gorgeous. I’ve put on a little weight…or slightly more than a little, but that’s not my fault. I have kids and a fondness for chocolate and I sit a lot because I write a lot and anyways I eat healthy. I mean, not all the time, but damn I haven’t had white bread in…

And that’s when it hit me. I was in such a tizzy about getting past Rhino-Pig that I forgot the bread.

Damn it.

Bread is kind of a big deal around our house so I swung into another grocery store and picked up a loaf of good old 100% whole wheat. By the time I make it through grocery store #2, I am feeling better. There were no overly-tenacious blind housewives. No creepy animal-men trying to communicate with me. It feels good to rejoin the human race.

But then, as I’m walking through the double doors to my car, I pass a handsome man who smiles at me. For a second, I consider trying to learn from my mistakes and just give the guy a dirty look. But, instead, I smile back because it’s the polite thing to do.

And also because I’m not an animal.

Thanks for stopping by!






9 thoughts on “The Grocery Store of Dr. Moreau

  1. LOL I’m often baffled by how quickly men go from polite and friendly to utterly smarmy and creepy in mere seconds, but I’ve yet to meet a man who looks like a rhinoceros. Should I encounter one, I will contact you immediately.
    Monkey Mom was seriously good imagery!

  2. Yeah, I’m willing to bet we all know that look. Yuck. Is it worth giving him the finger to see if it doesn’t leave you feeling better about the interaction?

  3. I try to avoid any contact with people in grocery stores. I’ll be that guy using the checkout with a cart full of groceries – including produce requiring specific codes – just to avoid talking to the clerk.

    What I’m saying is, you won’t have to worry about me saying “Hi” to you in the grocery store.

  4. Uh-oh. I smile at people with no inuendo intended, Rachel, as I trail my dear wife Karen aisle after aisle, just content to be along for the trek. If the right song is on the PA, I may be dancing or singing along unless I get the stop-it look, words or elbow from MDW. I wonder what animal I’m assigned? Baboon, most likely. I shall use this as a primer to never mouth any direct words of greeting. Egads. That does cross the line. Thank you for this enlightenment. We men just don’t know sometimes. Sorry to hear of your rhino-ing.

    1. I’m sure everyone knows your smiles and dancing are just fun and you mean no harm. I actually love sparking up convos with people at the grocery store, but when a man ‘looks’ at you in such a way, it’s time to find a different aisle! I don’t think you look like a baboon. Hmmm….I’m not sure what animal you look like. A badger maybe? 😉 Thank you for your condolences. There should really be a Hallmark Card for such occasions.

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