If you ever find yourself bored with grocery shopping, it’s because you’re not doing it at the right time. You should be going late at night. That’s when the entire market is populated by ghosts, trolls, golems and other assorted mythical creatures. Factor in the color-neutralizing florescent lighting, the likelihood that you’ve probably not slept enough and an abnormally low number of people and you’ve got yourself an otherworldly experience.
I have lived both as a night owl and as an early bird. Having no internal clock to speak of has allowed me to become a master of both day and night. If anyone can understand late night shopping, and all of the glory and peril it can offer, it’s me. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to expose you to the Late Night Family Trio, The Skeleton and the Lone Shopper. Keep in mind that these are just three archetypes out of the many macabre folk that frequent midnight supermarkets.
The late night family trio consists of a frumpy looking mother, a single oddball child and a father who seems angry without purpose. Dads do stuff that nobody can understand. My father stomps around loudly all of the time for no reason and talks to himself all of the time, regardless of how good or bad his mood. He leaves television sets on in every room he is not occupying but claims anyone else using more than a desk lamp in a pitch black room is “wasting electricity.” Dads are enigmas and the late night grocery store variety are no different. This particular dad’s surface seems placid but that’s just the booze, if you watch him for long enough he will eventually fly into a quiet rage. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. He seems ageless. His awkward looking thirteen year old son, that he has to be completely ashamed of, will hint that the dad is in his early forties but his look will throw you off. His snug faded jeans, plain white tennis shoes and a tight gray short-sleeved shirt drip with potential youth while his salt-and-pepper hair with budding comb-over indicate a powerful maturity. In fact, the only thing about this dad that you can be sure of is that he hates his family. He pouts and says awful things about his wife under his breath while his son tries to sneak more junk food into the cart. Occasionally he yells things in response like, “It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” The most unsettling thing about this family is that while the father is visibly loathsome of its very existence the mother seems to be happily content. In fact, I sort of wondered if she wasn’t going to go home and blog about how much fun they had at the store that very night.
The skeleton is similar only in that she is also full of secrets. For example, why is she buying so much food when she probably weights about sixty-seven pounds? She desperately needs to eat something, but I’m pretty sure she’d die attempting to tuck into anything more substantial than a bowl of thin soup. Yet someone seems to have filled her cart to the brim with steak and eggs. Equally perplexing is what chemical is causing different parts of her head to die. In my experience, most human heads tend to age somewhat evenly all over. The skeleton’s head has opted to age at different rates at different locations, most notable being around her mouth. I suppose mummified would be the best word to describe it. The answer to her terrible unspoken riddle is crystal meth and the steaks are for the large pack of near feral dogs that she calls her “babies.” Remind yourself that, while master of her kingdom of hybrid wolves, she is powerless here.
The same cannot be said for The Lone Shopper. The market is his domain. The Lone Shopper is usually encountered at the end of the longest abandoned aisle in the store. He’s never shopping and will probably make terrifying eye contact with you as if he’s just been waiting. This is because he has. Avoid him at all costs, especially if he is wearing his belly shirt. This ghoul sometimes appears on busses and subways as a serial groper and, if left unchecked, has serious serial killer potential. The look in his eyes says, “I’m one more blind date away from turning someone into a chair.”
There numerous other notable types of late night phantoms and nymphs. There are the glossy-eyed youths looking for snacks, the businessman who works too late, the unattended baby (easily the scariest) and that’s just to name a few. It might be worth someone’s time to consider making trading cards. I’m interested to hear about the fauna that you’ve encountered during your midnight trips to the grocery store too.
I heart late-night shopping!
My fave, similar to but different from your family archetype, is the giant-happy-family-eating-candy-from-bins. I always seem to encounter these people: A professional(ish) mom, dissheveled dad, 5-12 kiddos all hopped up on sugar and sometimes a crazy-looking grandma. And they’re always snacking from the Brachs bins. Always.
There should be a sociology degree offered with a specialization in late-night shopping. And trading cards … definitely trading cards …
I love that family. Also, if anyone should have an honorary degree in that, it should be me.
I’ll get to work on the cards.
i have only appreciation to express for this. thanks.
You’re welcome, Sana.
Skeleton subcategory, The After-hours Drunk College Girl: carries an empty shopping basket and exposes some part of her body unknowingly while she sways in front of pretty much any display. She’ll smile at you if she can focus on your face, but then goes back to confused grimacing/hiccuping.
I went out with that girl once, years ago.
She knows what body part she’s exposing. They always know.
Going late at night is the only way to shop for someone like me. Since I only have one shirt, I need to wash it – – I still have to go grocery shopping! Damn, I have this one shirt I can wear, but its kind of small on me and shows my belly. I hope no one sees me. I’ll just keep to the shadowy corners of the store and grab what I can when no one is looking.
I will take you shirt shopping this weekend. You have an alarmingly small wardrobe. We’ll head to Value World or Salvation Army and find something super cheap but not awful too- but I’m willing to get new clothes too.
I am, without a doubt, one of the glossy-eyed youth looking for a snack. Late night shopping is awesome, great post :)
Agreed. This was a great post.
This post is great. I think you nailed “Dad” down to a T!
I must go Late Nite Shopping and see what I can find….
Please please please do. Post your findings back here.
what flavors does pork dust come in? can i get bbq? does it come in a low sodium option?
Yeah but “Yellow Curry” and “Salty Tears” are the most popular.
Posky, you have a twisted mind and a ridiculous talent.
I can agree with both of those, but not at the same time.
me thinks trailertrashdeluxe^^^ is spot on! thou…I was expecting Dad to have the belly shirt, it seems that half the time he is sporting it with a stain that one would rather not figure. Sadly, now that I reside in the horrid ‘burbs, late nite is only interesting at the QT… fab as always, Posky!
I’m worried about you. Some suburbs are okay, great for house parties and provide easy access to the city and events and the country. However, sometimes they are soul traps and you get stuck into a humdrum life of mediocrity.
I love rural and I adore urban life for different reasons, but suburbia always felt like a poor compromise that didn’t really offer much of what I liked about either.
I’m torn between heading out to the store right now (to see if you are right) . . . and avoiding these gruesome creatures like the plague. :)
Go for it but call someone beforehand to let them know where you are.
Our stores close at 6pm, how envious I am!
Six in the afternoon? Where do you live?!
I have to agree with the above. I am not sure Dad is just a late night shopping phenom, but you have nailed him and his family!
All I read was, “You have nailed him and his family.”
If you want to know more about my take on dads, look around the blog. I’ve got lots to say and there will be another post about dads coming up.
I am highly interested in the Bird Faces…what is there caloric content, are they high in fiber, and does anyone out there have a recipe I should know about? And do you boil the beaks seperately? Just went shopping tonight, think I may have encountered a “doubles team” of drunk young girls, calling out loud every product named on the aisle signs as if calling out the Kentucky Derby races. Each carried a near-empty basket. They swayed and rocked like lone trees in an impending hurricane. I was mildly entertained, but had to continue my conversation with the peanut butters. Where was the chunky honey tonight? Only creamy…I demanded answers. Silence and crickets was all I got. What are you contributing to other peoples experience, anyway? Kinda stingy not to participate in the live art-performance scene, if ya ask me. Which ya didn’t. but, ya know…
Interested? Here you go:
You forgot to mention the elderly woman who looks scared and confused and seems to follow you around.
Oh I could never, ever, forget her.
How am I ever going to shop again?
This has great potential as a future survival horror videogame franchise. And I have great potential as a future The Lone Shopper.
Goddammit, copy and paste fail!
You should seek help before this comes to fruition.
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