I went to Costco today for the first time.
Everybody raves about Costco but I’ve resisted joining figuring I was done with the world of Big Food when my kids grew up and left home. I used to go to Sam’s Club and buy vast quantities of pasta and lemon pepper. I still have the lemon pepper I bought there fifteen years ago and, yes, it still smells nice and lemony and peppery. I take it out just to sniff now and then, reminiscing, I guess, about life when I thought lemon pepper would be so swell to have around.
I remember buying a giant jar of pickles, a jar so big you had to hug it to bring it in the house. My younger daughter was crazy about pickles then so I bought it for her, her own personal jar, but then we had a big fight about her not putting the jar away and I picked it up, hugging it like a toddler, all the way outside where I heaved the sucker, pickles and all, into the trash. So my memories of steroided food are not all great. That said, as they say, I took my friends’ advice to “go to Costco” when I told them we were having a candidate fundraiser at our house tonight.
“Get a deli platter! It’s cheap! And easy! And so lovely.”
So I tooled out to the far suburbs this morning, all set to pick up a deli platter and maybe a fruit platter or a veggie platter, too, but when I got to the deli counter there was a wooden box with a slit in the top. “Put your deli platter order here.” There was a stack of forms and a bunch of short stubby pencils. Huh?
“So how long does it take to get a deli platter?” I asked the woman behind the counter who was washing her hands and looking at her hair in the mirror over the sink.
I was stunned. Incredulous. I don’t have 24 hours! I wanted to say. But I just said “crap!” and started pushing my cart in circles around the giant boxes of strawberries. Panic is the enemy. Panic is the enemy. A frequent recitation of mine, this time it was true. I needed to stay calm. Think about how to construct my own deli platter which, over the course of 10,000 years, I have done plenty of times. But in Costco, the task seemed gargantuan.
I bought sliced cheese and salami, both in huge double packs, a box of crackers with six boxes of crackers inside, a stack of three containers of olives, which I bought because it had such a cute handle, and then I bought a forty-pound bag of pita chips and enough hummus to pave the way back to the Middle East. I moved on to fruit.
I bought a box of eight freak kiwis that were yellow and not green inside, I don’t know why, and two perfectly round watermelons roped together in netting which made them easier to carry, like you could sling them over your shoulder like a baby or over your arm like a purse, the cleverness of it impressed me but I didn’t need two watermelons which quickly became beside the point. The clock was ticking.
I bought a river of blueberries, a basketful of raspberries, and fat strawberries, all in big plastic containers suitable for housing a hamster family. And then I decided I should get some nuts so I could have little dishes of nuts surprising people when they sat down in various places. I always like a lot of nuts so this seemed like a deluxe idea to me.
Except the nuts were in bags larger than my backpack. There were no small nuts. Jesus, I thought, I’ve got to get out of here. Then I looked down and saw that I’d bought a bin of small chocolate chip cookies which were sitting on top of the trough of big chocolate chip cookies and, realizing I’d forgotten the one when I got the other, I looked for a place to stow the bin but I was standing amidst the khaki pants at the time so I walked, like the little rule-observant nerd that I am, all the way back to the bakery to put them in the right place.
And then I got to the check-out where the guy rat-a-tat-tatted at me like we were in some big contest with the other check-out lines, like Step on it, Sister! and then the card reader rejected my card. Yeah. Can you imagine, after all I’d been through? The cashier shuffled his feet and stared at me. I was killing his time, you know. So I came up with a Plan B which worked miraculously but will be tomorrow’s panic. It was a rough first day at Costco is all I’ll say, my foray back into the land of Big Food has left me weak and overwhelmed with watermelon. Take me home to Trader Joe’s.