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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)

TITLE: The Last of the Store-Brand Foil
By Wilma Schlegel


“Oh, my dad doesn’t eat shrimp.” Robert shook his head as Julie dropped the bag of ‘jumbo’ size into their cart.

“Well, Honey, we’ll just have to have them on a night when ‘your dad’ doesn’t eat with us.” Julie’s smile was condescending. She shook her head and thought ‘Robert’s dad!’

“Oh,” the new husband said. He looked uncomfortably at the bag and took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said. He wondered when the last time was that his dad had gone grocery shopping. This whole experience was new to him, but Julie said it would be fun and ‘something they could do together, just the two of them,’ so here he was, at the super store.

Julie was on to the next thing. “How about ground beef and some chicken? - Legs and thighs okay?”

“Yeah, fine.” Robert answered. His eyes darted to that ‘alien’ shrimp in the cart again.

“What’s wrong, honey, you don’t seem like you’re enjoying this.” Julie playfully put her hand on Robert’s arm.

“Yoh!” Robert yelled. “Your hand is as cold as ice.”

“You’re ‘It’!” she taunted. She grabbed the cart and pushed it fast around the end of the aisle.

He caught up to her and grabbed her waist to stop her.

“Oh, I guess I’m ‘It’ now!” she put her head back and laughed.

“No, you’re not ‘It’ and stop making a scene. People will think we’re a couple of kids.” Robert warned.

“Well first of all, we Are, and second of all, who cares? And third of all, who am I shopping with, you or some crotchety old guy?” Julie was disappointed to see a new side to her previously fun-loving husband.

Robert looked doubtful. “I’m just not used to this kind of place.”

“This ‘kind of place’ is a grocery store. Look at the people here. They don’t care if you have some fun. As long as you’re not in their way and don’t take the last of something they want, they won’t even notice you,” Julie explained.

“That’s not true. My mom and most of her friends shop here. They usually act kind of serious.” Robert dutifully pushed the cart along.

“You’re worried about your mom and her friends? That’s silly.” Julie grabbed some sweet potatoes. “You eat sweet potatoes, don’t you? My mom says they’re among the top ten superfoods.”

“Your mom would say something like that.” Robert rolled his eyes.

They made their way into the snack food aisle. “Hey, remember the time your mom made potato chip cookies, but she used sour cream and onion flavored? Man, that was something!” Robert laughed out loud.

“Oh, really? I don’t remember.” Julie didn’t appreciate that Robert chose to laugh now - at her mom.

Robert threw in two bags of ‘sour cream and onion’. “Well, then I guess she’ll have to make them again, and we can supply the chips.”

“Well, at least she tries new things and she hasn’t been interfering with this whole shopping trip the way your parents have.”

“My parents would never interfere.” Robert defended.

“Oh, but they constantly do,” Julie insisted looking at the shrimp.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Robert argued.

Julie put some generic aluminum foil into the cart.

“Why can’t you get the name brand?” Robert asked. “And what did you mean about my parents?”

Julie scowled at her husband, tapping her foot. “Why should we get the name brand, Robert? And I actually think your parents are interfering right now,” she said through clenched teeth.

“What are you talking about, Julie? You know they’re at the shore right now.”

“Robert,” came a voice from a complete stranger who was standing uncomfortably close to them. “I think maybe your parents prefer the name brand.”

“They do.” Robert smiled in satisfaction. “ Julie, you said nobody’d notice us.”

“And maybe,” the stranger continued as she looked at Julie, “Robert’s parents have been a strong influence on him, rather than an interference with your shopping. Kind of like your own mother’s influence on you. It’s all in how you look at it, after all.”

Julie thought about it and smiled, nodding slowly.

“Now, if you don’t mind,” the shopper said reaching behind Julie, “Is that the last of the store brand foil?”

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This article has been read 234 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/23/12
This is a hoot to read, though I imagine a bit uncomfortable to live. I enjoyed your characters immensely and thought they seemed quite realistic.

Instead of using taglines like he said or she groaned, you may want to use that space to show the characters feelings. "Nobody will notice us. She stood with her feet apart and crossed her arms.--This identifies the speaker and shows she is getting defensive. You did something similar a few times and it really helped me picture the characters.

I think your story was right on topic. It was interesting to see the difference between male and female shoppers. Then you took it a step further and showed the problems a newly married couple faces. The ending with the interfering shopper was perfect. I loved how she guided them while at the same time plotting a way to get the last roll of generic foil! Genius!
Joanna Stricker08/23/12
Lol, I was afraid they'd break out into that infamous 'first fight as a married couple' right in the store isle. I loved the additon of the savvy interloper!
C D Swanson 08/24/12
Loved the whole thing. You've managed to capture the "nonsense" that a couple can experience in the beginning of a marriage partnership. It resonates truth and a powerful message at once.

Nice touch with the stranger giving unsolicited advice.

Good job. God bless~
Vicki J. Cypcar08/28/12
Fun story! I enjoyed it very much.
Genia Gilbert08/28/12
This has a lot of insight into a young married couple, and it is funny to us now. As someone already stated, though, it wasn't always fun when it was happening. I can recall a few similar "learning experiences. lol Good writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/30/12
Congratulations for ranking 6th in your level and 15 overall!