With a flourish, my husband sets the shopping bag on the table and extracts a box of rugelach. “You can’t say that I’m stingy. I got an extra-large package for Shabbos. That should be enough for everybody.”
I look at the two-pound package and swallow. Crumbs litter the box, and they look hard and brittle. It’s usually my job to buy the rugelach for our mini-Shabbatons. Our grocery sells fresh, chocolaty rugelach straight out of the oven for the hefty sum of $8 a pound. They also sell yesterday’s rugelach, prepackaged, for the same price, strategically placed in a more convenient location together with the poppy seed kokosh cake that looks like chocolate. To ensnare people. Like my husband, for example.
I bite my lips. I gnash my teeth. I dig my nails into my palms—every single cliché out there. We hardly ever treat ourselves to these rugelach. But I will not say anything. Instead, I rummage through the bag looking for the cheesecake he promised to buy me. With postpartum cravings in full swing, I skipped supper for the promise of cheesecake. There isn’t any. And instead of the disposable plastic containers I asked for I find a $10 Sterilite container in the wrong size.
“Oish!” he smacks his head. “The cheesecake! I forgot to buy it.”
“But you called to ask me which kind I wanted,” I practically cry. “And what in the world is this Sterilite container doing in our bag?”
“Well, I wanted to buy you a good one.”
“But we’re going away for Shabbos and I want to throw it out after I serve the fish! I’m not schlepping home a fish container from a musty old bungalow! I asked you to get five things from the grocery store and you made seven mistakes! How is that even possible?”
Ouch! That was my mother talking. She has a tendency to steal into my voice box and take over the conversation.
Baruch Hashem, my parents have wonderful shalom bayis: mutual respect, open communication, talking in “one voice,” etc., etc. Until it comes to grocery shopping. I remember the hopeful look my father had in his eyes whenever he returned from the supermarket. He always hoped that this time he had gotten it right, but he never did.
“Each seed of this cucumber is bigger than the whole cucumber should be,” she would sigh dramatically. My father would look very forlorn. “And the eggplant; don’t you like the babaganush I make for Shabbos? This eggplant is big enough for exactly one person. That’s why I wrote the word ‘big’ and underlined it on the list.”
My father, who’s a nostalgic kind of guy, kept on forgetting that the family had grown. He would often come home with five snack bags of potato chips to take a family of ten through a week of school snack preparations.
The foil pans were another teaching moment. “A 9×13 pan looks like this,” my mother would demonstrate, holding up the correct size. “And a roaster pan looks like this. I use these all the time. Don’t you even notice?”
The lettuce bags he came home with were puffy with moisture and extra air. “Vacuum packed lettuce isn’t supposed to look like a balloon!” she’d say.