My Wife: My Date
by Greg Cryns

I called my wife, Yvonne, at her job last Friday afternoon.

“Hi, honey!” I say brightly. “Let’s go out tonight!”

Short pause at the other end.

“Uh, ok,” she says. “What did you have in mind?”

“How about dinner? What do you feel like eating tonight?”

Another pause. I can feel her mind wondering what the “catch” might be.

“Oh, anything,” she says. “Let’s pick up some groceries before we eat, though. The cupboard is way bare.”

“Okay,” I say. “I’ll meet you at Aldi’s at 6:00pm!”

Visions of an impeccable French restaurant swim in my mind. But, wait, there are no such restaurants within a 30 mile radius. “We’ll find a place,” I think as I drive the big van to Aldi’s. “Maybe we could also see a good movie!” I think. I don’t have a clue what is worth seeing, bit I figure we can stop at the local six-plex movie house where something might look interesting.

We meet at Aldi’s. Yvonne looks exhausted after her eight hour stint working at the chiropractor’s office. We enter Aldi’s Food Store. This store was created with the large family in mind. It has, hands down, the lowest priced groceries in the known universe.

To keep the prices low, you need to put a quarter in a slot to get a shopping basket. Never fear, you get it back when you return the basked to its allotted place. You also need to bring your own shopping bags or you must buy more at the checkout lane. We are always prepared for a quick visit and keep our old plastic bags in the trunk of the car, just in case. And, of course, there is no employee to put the groceries in those bags. Do-it-yourself, that’s the store motto.

Have you ever seen one of those Shopping Spree games on TV? If you shop with Yvonne at Aldi’s you need not wait for the next TV show. A strange gleam emanates from Yvonne’s eyes as she scans the grocery aisles. She is transformed. One moment a loving wife - the next a relentless shopping demon. I’m here to tell you that Yvonne really knows her shopping stuff. No time for chitchat. This is heavy duty business.

I learned that one never buys just one of anything here. We’re talking staple-shopping, folks. At these incredible prices you figure you will always need that third jar of mayonnaise, the fifth jar of peanut butter, the fourth bag of chocolate chips for baking. And Corn Flakes at $1.25 per big box? Give me a half dozen! Jars, bags and boxes are flying off the shelves into our basket until it is filled to the brim. The eight bags of flour sit above the rollers on the bottom. We can barely push the basket down the last aisle.

It is really bad form to try to bag your groceries at the checkout counter. Experienced Aldi shoppers know that the lone checkout person’s time is precious. Woe be to the person who slows her up. We toss all items quickly back into the basket as they come through the scanner, then we take them to a designated area to fill up the saved bags. .

In the parking lot, I recommend Arby’s for dinner. I see a funny look on Yvonne’s face.

“You don’t like Arby’s,” I ask incredulously? She shakes her head.

“Let’s just get a movie at Blockbuster’s and make something good at home!” she says. Yvonne’s excitement is contagious.

Blockbuster’s is just a block away but its parking lot is jammed. Once inside we learn that “Spiderman” was released on video that very day. Woe is us. Thirty people are waiting patiently in line to rent that video.

Yvonne says, “Do you really want to wait a half-hour in line for a movie?” I do not.

I worry, though, that the big exit scanner device will shrill a siren just to get even with us for not spending any money. Thankfully, it remains quiet as we exit Blockbuster without a movie.

At home we unpack the groceries, all 14 bags of them. This takes up the better part of an hour. After that, Yvonne pours herself a glass of red wine from out of a box and sighs. I grab a beer. We turn on the tube, sit on our favorite sofa, and watch an episode of 20/20 about yet another wrongful conviction and then an absolutely hilarious show called ElimiDATE in which the girl dumps all of her four suitors.

Here is my confession. I really did have good intentions when I called Yvonne for our special date. I wanted to make an impression on her, to rekindle the romanticism in our lives which often seems diminished by time. I wanted her to know that she is still the most beautiful woman in the world, despite the signs of grey hair and the hard earned laugh (and frown) lines.

Our life together for the last 30 years has had its ups and downs and it certainly has been interesting. Together we’ve visited most of the major cities in the U.S. including Las Vegas, San Francisco, Phoenix and New York where we stayed at a hotel in the Twin Towers (yes, those towers) in 1993. We’ve seen rock concerts, theater plays, many art galleries and museums, at least three Chinatowns, camped in a massive State Park in Missouri, attended many professional sporting events, talked to state senators and representatives, and seen our children grow to be responsible adults. We even once dined at a French restaurant where the food was good but certainly not worth the price.

Home is certainly where our hearts are.

by Greg Cryns
Email: greg@rsg.org

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