The Great Bell Pepper Debate of 1986

This recent post by our illustrious mandolin playing, freelance writing, golfing, bona fide medical doctor (Dr. Bibey) about his proposed shopping trip today with his wife caused me to remember the reason why I do not go shopping with my own husband.

Now my Dear Mr. Demonic is a wonderful man. He’s smart, funny, and a fine, upstanding citizen. He’s been a good husband and a loving father. He has provided for us in ways that most men cannot. But for all his wonderful qualities, there is one thing we cannot do together.

SHOP.

As I indicated in my response to Dr. B’s post, with the exception of Christmas shopping for the kids (pre-Internet, now you can buy anything online), I don’t go shopping with Mr. D.

The reason: I would like to stay married.

Oh, sure, I said the same thing about working with Mr. D. I tried it about 25 years ago, when we were just dating. I was filling in for his regular girl while she was on vacation. The end result was the longest two days of my life, we ended up in a horrendous fight, and almost broke up. After that, I thought it best to give him some room. A man likes to feel his workplace is his kingdom, and my Dear Mr. D. is a king among business owners.

Ten years ago, due to some touchy circumstances that I won’t relate here, I took the bull by the horns and forced my way into his business. It was the best thing I ever did. It was hard at first, since what I was doing amounted to little more than a hostile takeover. In the end, it was good for both of us. I could see his world from his eyes, and he abdicated his role as scary, mean boss to me. That left him being the good guy, and he likes it.

But the better thing was to keep my desk with the office girls and his office down the hall. There are days when I don’t even see him. There are times when he’s there, but we email each other instead of getting on the intercom. In addition, he goes out of town a lot. We’re like two ships that pass through the workday, with an occasional quickie in the conference room before people show up. It’s been so successful, now he’s going to transfer the entire thing to my name. I think it has something to do with taxes, and likely more to do with the fact he would like to hit the golf course more often.

But, back to shopping. I can’t shop with him, or for him.

Our temperaments are different. I tend to swoop down into the sales racks and leave if I don’t find anything 75% off. He doesn’t care what things cost, and he also likes to finger things. Unlike my previous boyfriends and husband, I don’t buy his clothes, not even his underwear. That’s because he’s incredibly fussy. He likes to match the smallest, minutest threads on a pair of pants to another on a tie.

We used to shop for groceries together when first married. We’d make a date of it on Saturday afternoons, after his half day at work and before going out for dinner to a corner eatery with Ms. Pac Man in the lobby. There was a local store we liked, and I liked to go with him mostly because there was a check out girl there that had the hots for him. “Oh, no,” Mr. D. professed, “She’s just friendly…” My woman’s intuition kicked in the first time I saw Miss Hottie.

She was more than friendly, she was predatory. I promptly found a new store. (That was the Young Me. The Old Me is so tired out, she would likely say, “Honey, if you really want him you can have him.”)

One Saturday, as we were shopping together, Mr. D went to find something in the liquor aisle and told me to pick up some bell peppers in the produce section. We were making spaghetti that night. (Mr. D’s spaghetti sauce kicks butt, if you must know.) When we rendevouzed back at the cart, he took one look at my pepper choice and chastised me. That’s because one of my peppers had a small, almost indistinguishable wrinkle in it.

I’ve never lived that one down. He still looks over my produce.

Grocery shopping together came to a screeching halt when my son, Mr. D Jr., came into the picture. At first, it was because I would take the opportunity to go shopping while he watched D. Jr. as a baby. I came to enjoy those long moments alone, just me and my cart in Meijer Thrifty Acres. When the kids were a little bigger, they actually liked going to the store. They were fairly well-behaved and never clamored for sugary cereal or candy. They didn’t have much exposure to commercial TV, and besides, those things were considered treats in our house. Or, vacation food.

Now that it’s just Mr. D. and me in the house, we still go shopping alone. Instead of once a week splurges at Meijers, we go every day and pick up a few items, just like the Europeans do. Stocking up the fridge is only okay when there is a houseful of people. I don’t want to cultivate any more mystery food than I can take care of in a 15 minute period. We usually visit the same store within a half hour of each other.

I guess I could blame the entire shopping habits of the Demonic Family on a couple of bell peppers, but that would be a stretch, now wouldn’t it?

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