A surprisingly large contingent of the denizens of Almost decided to pass the endless mindless heedless boredom of a Sunday afternoon by walking in zombie-like stupor behind grocery carts at the local super-pharma-market. It's a ritual we pass about this same time every week, although the composition of the crowd seems to depend somewhat on which sporting event is currently being broadcast.
I think grocery shopping as we do it now replaces the traditional market day with a pale surrogate of sanitary plastic -wrapped food parcels and market-wise consumerism. These food units are almost divorced from cooking and eating, although they can eventually be coaxed into culinary excellence by the application of butter, mayonnaise, or other seasoned salted or blackened artifice, but the human interaction of the noisy goat-and-poultry filled market day is seemingly gone forever.
While I would be really helpless at the prospect of ending the life of some poor creature in order to disembowel, quarter, and flay it, I still think we've lost a connection to our victuals.
The market now is so clean, so organized, so full of stuff, that you can't simply go there and "pick up a few things." Now, faced with a obscene number of choices in every conceivable food category, it's more like an expedition across the Alps, complete with elephants. I'm drowning in convenience. Meanwhile my shopping experience is rendered complete by a herd of other bored shoppers wandering the aisles with glazed expressions, attached via wireless communicator to some other bored person providing guidance and moral support.
I can identify all the players by now, although I can't name them. The inexperienced newlyweds are amazed by the stock, but rarely depart from a select few comfort foods. The bored husbands read magazines while their hapless wives toil at the gathering, concentrating on it so hard because for them it is an article of faith. The well-studied shoppers, nattily dressed in church-going togs, complete their tour with grim efficiency. The family that stays together clogs the aisles with their offspring, creating mass confusion and dismay with their antics. The precision shopper quotes his specifications to the deli staff while his prim trophy wife agonizes over the proper bread for croutons.
It's not that I'm ungrateful. I'm well aware of the good fortune required to provide this level of boredom to people. But I think we had more fun in the smelly days of yore, when you had to keep an eye on Hakim the butcher and visit ten shops to supply a repast for the next Holy day. On foot. Without decision or choice. When you could send the servants out to do it.