Give a Man a Fish…

I must say that eating sushi was never something I equated with my grocery shopping experience. I guess my concerns center round the whole aesthetics and hygiene thing, and you know, the raw fish. Admittedly, sushi is not something I would eat in general, let alone at the grocery store. But…

I recently saw a man eating sushi in the grocery store. Umm… eww?

Yeah, so I was at the local grocery store yesterday (not the fancy kind either, just your run-of-the-mill chain store), wandering the rows and trying to make my way through my list when I noticed a man looking at the sushi they have pre-prepared in the case. I noticed him because he made a big deal about hemming and hawing over the case as he took off his baseball cap, scratched his head, and eyed up the display.  In a loud manner, he pulled the seafood clerk aside to ask if it was fresh. Now, I can’t speak to the honesty of the clerk, but he told the man that ‘yes, it’s made fresh every day.’ He failed to mention what time of day. It could have been made first thing that morning, for all we knew, and here it was, 8:30pm. But the guy seemed satisfied enough with that answer, and that’s what matters, I suppose. I mean, he was purchasing sushi at the local grocery store, after all. Anyway, the guy made his selection and moved on. I didn’t see what he chose (I’m not that nosy.)

I returned to my shopping, and a few minutes later, I saw this guy again. Now he was down at the other end of the seafood counter (where they have cheese and pasta in a refrigerated section, which is where I was headed), and I kid you not, he was eating the sushi! With his fingers. Right there in the store. Eating. The. Sushi. He couldn’t even wait to get home or at the least to the semi-privacy of his car.  Eating sushi in the middle of the grocery store. Who does that? It’s not like he was trying to hide it either. You know, have your sushi but not pay for it. He was just sort of there, for everyone to see. Can you imagine taking up an empty sushi container to the check out? Do you even try to explain that or just stare silently at the questioning cashier?

I’ve seen some quirky behavior in the grocery store. Some of it is a bit more common than others, some of it not very sanitary. But… a sushi dinner? How badly must you need a sushi fix to pop open the container and just start shoveling it in while loitering in aisle 5?  

Most people love a good sushi dinner now and then. Well, maybe not most people. But a substantial portion of the population appreciates the delicacies of raw fish and their pairings with rice, veggies, and seaweed. Part of the reason some people like sushi is the pleasure of going to a nice restaurant where the sushi is freshly made moments before being served. Then, of course, there’s the ambiance of the sushi bar itself. 

For this guy, however, the assurance of “made fresh everyday” was more than enough… regardless of what time of day that might be.  And ambiance?  Who the hell needs ambiance when you’re downing grocery store sushi next to the pasta and cheese display at the Piggly Wiggly? If that’s where you are in your life, ambiance is probably the last thing on your mind. 

And Now For Something Completely Different


The Complete Guide to Identifying the
Tufted Walmart Customer (Qui Indutus Turpiter Palam)
in their Natural Habitat

Sadly, James Audubon, author of that classic catalog of American ornithology, The Birds of America, passed away before an entirely new species of rare bird, the Qui Indutus Turpiter Palam (Those Who Dress Shamefully in Public) mutated, evolved, and propagated throughout the United States.  Most ornithologists fix the date the species sprang up as July 2, 1962, near the town of Rogers, Arkansas.  Because this coincides exactly with the date and location of the first Walmart, it is generally held that the two occurrences are directly related but there is some heated debate over the theory.  Regardless, the Walmart name has been affixed to the species, and extensive DNA studies bear this out.

Because this highly varied species is now found throughout the United States (they reproduce prodigiously) this guide has been written to provide the amateur people-watcher a comprehensive reference for identifying them in the wild. Although there are numerous offshoots of the Tufted Walmart Customer (Qui Indutus Turpiter Palam), here are the major sub-species of this colorful creature.

Unum Amplitude Congruat Omnes – “One Size Fits All”
This sub-species is easily recognizable by its attempt to wear something that was intended to be worn by someone much (much, much) smaller. Vast expanses of flesh that should not ordinarily be seen ooze out of the garments’ borders. Most popular of the garments are yoga pants, halter tops, cycling shorts, and tube tops. Although it should be noted that severely ill-fitting bathing suits and Speedo type shorts have in fact been observed.

Et Ubi Sum Ego Non Curo – “I Don’t Care Where I Am”
Perhaps one of the most distinctive traits of this sub-species is their apparent “I don’t give a damn” attitude. It is worn with a kind of pride and one can only assume it is used to quickly locate and attract others of its kind.  Indeed, it is only due to local public indecency laws that they are wearing anything at all. Their outer plumage, what there is of it, is seemingly thrown on in a haphazard manner as they are leaving the nest. On numerous occasions, what is clearly sleepwear has been observed being worn in a brazen display of their oft-touted “I don’t give a damn” attitude. An identifying feature of this sub-species is the brightness of its plumage and the fact that all the colors they wear clash.

Indumentis Diaphanum – “Transparent Clothing”
This is, by far, the most controversial sub-species. In many cases, they defy logic, at least to the professional scientist, if not the casual observer. Their plumage is transparent. Gender of the subject is easily ascertained as there is also no under-plumage to hide gender features.  They are easily spotted as flocks of the species follow them wherever they go. This sub-species is generally regarded as a prime breeder of more of the Tufted Walmart Customer species.

Miles Simulare – “Pretend Soldier”
Also known as the Venator Incredibili or Quis Venator Persequitur, Non – “One Who Doesn’t Hunt But Likes Camo”
This sub-species has evolved to a point where they have developed “camo-plumage” which they think hides them.  It is often best to humor them; this can be done by bumping into them and then exclaiming “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there!” Unfortunately, they are usually found near the cheap beer displays where they are easily recognized. At times, they can be observed diligently comparing the pros and cons of “on sale today only!” lawn chairs with and without built-in cup holders. They can show a belligerent attitude, but become quite docile and pleasant if you jingle a ring of keys in front of them.

Animalis Rabidus – “Animal Crazy”
This sub-species is unique in that they seem to prefer the company of animals over their own kind.  While they would ordinarily fall under a completely different Walmart species, they are included with Qui Indutus Turpiter Palam (Those Who Dress Shamefully in Public) or the Tufted Walmart Customer because of their unusual behavior. Observations have shown the individuals of this sub-species go so far as to hide their animal friends in large bags and purses, even using them as accessories to their otherwise prim and plain outer plumage. Particularly smart members of this sub-species obtain fake credentials for their companions, while others simply do not care what modern society thinks of them and therefore take their animal pals everywhere regardless of cleanliness, drool-control (or lack thereof), or behavior of said pal. Field notes from various locations indicate that all manner of animal sidekicks to this sub-species have been observed including the routine small, yapper dogs, along with pigs, snakes, and even a monkey. So-called super-centers with their caches of food, including open items such as fruit and vegetables, are not off limits to the Animalis Rapidus. It has been said this is the most brazen of all the Tufted Walmart Customers.

As the species continues to expand and grow across the United States, Walmart, the store generally credited with creating the species in the first place, finds that they need to build additional stores to provide more natural habitat. Observing the Tufted Walmart Customer in their own environment can be a fun activity for young and old alike. However, caution must be taken to limit interaction and under no circumstances should you feed them or attempt to take them home.  We suggest that you build a viewing blind in the parking lot of your nearest Walmart.


Mall Madness

So I had to go to the mall this past week to see Captain America with my kids (awesome movie by the way!).  I hate going to the mall.  I don’t think I can overstate that.

Something about going to the mall always gives me anxiety. I think it’s all the people mashed together on a collective shopping high that usually winds up being a chaotic mess of kids and adults zig zagging, rushing, and leapfrogging past each other as they try to reach their shopping meccas. Back in the day it was bad enough to have this cesspool of the unorganized ricocheting off of each other as they barrel down the concourse not paying attention to who they step on or cut off. Now with smart phones taking over, they essentially put a blindfold over their eyes as they drunkenly stumble across the linoleum looking down at whatever alert is oh-so-important to check out right that second.

I hate participating in this game of human bumper cars, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to stand back and take it all in from a safe distance. The people-watching at a mall is top-notch. You’ll see all sorts of personalities intermingling in a way that you’d never see on the street. The droopy pants thug from the shady urban neighborhood on his way to Foot Locker rubbing elbows with the pencil pushing accountant heading to Tiffany’s. Or the awkward tweens boys taking their first stabs at flirting, failing miserably, but able to disappear into the crowd after suffering the embarrassment of being turned down by a cute eighth grader. Hipsters, goth kids, nerds, soccer moms, geriatric fast walkers, they’re all here under one roof.

Shoppers at Brea Mall, Brea, California

Shoppers at Brea Mall, Brea, California

One other incredibly annoying part of the mall has to do with the idiots who spray perfume in your face when you walk by their counter in the various department stores. I seriously think Congress needs to pass some legislation and make this illegal. At the very least it should be law that they ask your permission first. What if someone is allergic to the scent (ummm, me!). That could be a serious problem. Those ladies in the supermarket giving away free samples of Jimmy Dean sausage have it right. You walk by and they ask, “Would you like to try a sample today?” They don’t jump over the table, hold your nose, and shove it down your throat. Is it too hard to ask the perfume pumpers for the same courtesy?

The incomparable Mr. Bean running the perfume gauntlet (click photo for video)

Hilarious Mr. Bean running the perfume gauntlet  (click photo for video)

Same with the ever popular kiosks set in the middle of the aisles armed with high-octane sales people who are pushing you to try their new fat burning device, sample an organic lotion, get an eyebrow pluck, or test drive a remote helicopter, etc. They practically accost you as you walk by, all in the name of sales.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy looking at the kiosks and all of the interesting things they sell…I just don’t like being grabbed as I walk by and dragged in when all I want to do is make it to the Starbucks on the other side of the mall before my caffeine deficiency causes a scene. It’s gotten so bad at our local mall that most people just avoid the kiosks all together. The shoppers making their way down the aisle resemble a flock of birds smoothly evading a predator as the crowd seamlessly veers to the right as they desperately try to ignore the frantic catcalls of the various barkers touting their wares.

Between dodging the zombies glued to their cell phones, the poisonous clouds of synthetic scents, and dodging flying toys, the mall feels like an obstacle course from American Gladiators. I just want to get out alive and still properly breathing people!! And you wonder where the anxiety comes from.