It’s no mystery that I hate grocery shopping. It makes me feel anxious — it’s the crowds, the price signs begging me to do mental math, and the shifty looking boxes. I’ve talked about this before. To deal with the anxiety, I talk to myself. Quietly, of course, like a crazy person that knows they’re crazy.
Anxiety, to me, is the feeling of having an enemy in your head talking. My internal monolog tends to rip out of my control and go on a rampage through my actions. If I take my internal monolog and push it across my tongue, I have a chance to control it. I can still control my tongue, and I can use my tongue like a rudder for my monologue.
I thought I was the only one, but yesterday I ran into a man in his mid-thirties who was also talking to himself about lettuce. I was buying lettuce too. We sort of had a moment. He was mumbling something about, “What kind of lettuce do I want? Did she say romaine? I think it was romaine. Is this romaine?”
And I was saying, “I really just want plain leaf lettuce. What qualifies as plain, exactly? Is it Boston Leaf lettuce? Is that what I refer to as plain? Maybe it’s romaine. At least I know what romaine is.”
This is when we simultaneously reached forward and picked up a bundle of romaine lettuce. Thank goodness we were eyeing different bundles. That could have gotten awkward. Then, lettuce in hand, we looked at each other — heads cocked — regarded each other then went our separate ways.
I’m glad I’m not alone in talking to myself in the store. It’s perfectly possible that there are dozens of mumble-to-self shoppers in the United States. Dozens!