Jewish World Review Oct. 3, 2003 / 7 Tishrei, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Chipping away at misunderstood lists | It is a strange day when a package of chocolate chips necessitates a 10-minute discussion.

I ask the husband to pick up a bag of chocolate chips when he goes to the store for a gallon of milk. To my way of thinking, it is a simple request that requires a simple response such as "OK," "I will if I can remember," or, "Why don't you make snickerdoodles?"

Instead, we have the following discussion: "I'll get chocolate chips if you'll be very specific." he says. " I don't want this to lead to one of those sigh-and-eye events."

"What's that?" I ask.

"It's where I come back from the store, didn't find exactly what you asked for, and then you sigh and roll your eyes."

"Not true," I say. "I don't sigh and roll my eyes. I just sigh."

"Well chocolate chips can be a quagmire," he says. "What kind do you want?"

"The yellow bag" I say.

"You're going to have to be a lot more specific than that," he says. "Do you want the big bag, the medium bag, the little bag, semi-sweet, milk chocolate, mint, peanut butter mix, mini-chips, chunks or kisses?"

"Wow. You really know your chips," I say, very impressed. "Seeing that you seem to know your way around the grocery, would you mind swinging by the deli and picking up some turkey, too?"

"Oven roasted, honey roasted, smoked or pepper turkey? Shaved, sandwich-sliced or dinner-sliced?"

"Shaved, oven roasted," I say. "Why don't you add lettuce to that list as well?"

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"Iceberg, romaine, boston, bibb, red leaf, green leaf, regular produce or pre-washed and bagged?"

"Regular romaine, and maybe I should turn all the grocery shopping over to you. You really do know your way around."

"What I know is that you have to ask questions up front, as women have a way of making things complicated," he says.

"Women?" I ask. "Aren't you the man who asked me to pick up shaving cream and neglected to specify the red and white striped can? Let's review the choices that were waiting for me on the men's grooming aisle, shall we? In addition to the red stripe there were green, blue, purple and beige stripes. There was shaving cream for sensitive skin, beard buster, foam with moisturizer, foam without moisturizer, cool menthol, lemon lime and soothing aloe.

"And let's not forget the last time you put "regular deodorant" on my list. There's no such thing. There is, however, gel, solid, spray, roll-on, wide or regular, cool on contact or all-day protection. And then there was the matter of scent. I had to decide whether you'd like to smell like white water rapids, old leather, pumpkin pie, fresh trout, or a sweat sock worn by a professional athlete. I was in the deodorant aisle so long the manager sent a security officer to see if I was unconscious.

"Listen," I tell him. " I'll go grab the things on the drug store list, and you pick up the things on the grocery list. And don't forget milk," I say.

"Whole milk, two percent, one percent or skim?" he asks.

"We'll have one 2-percent person at home this weekend and one skim-milk drinker, so split the difference and get one percent. That way we can generate conversation with both drinkers."

We head for the door with our individual lists. I jam my list in my purse. He folds his list, tucks it in his pocket and says, "You do realize things could be much worse, don't you?"

"How's that?" I ask.

"I could ask you to stop at Starbucks and bring me back a coffee."

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman