A Facebook friend recently commented on one of the stranger aspects of becoming a “woman of a certain age” as I like to call us. It’s the “ask that woman, she looks like she knows her way around a butternut squash” phenomenon in the grocery store.
Like my FB friend, I have noticed that in the past year – my nightly spackling of Olay Regenerist notwithstanding – I’m becoming the wise older woman in the grocery store who knows how to cook everything and can identify even the freakiest-looking produce.
This never happened to me when I was in my 40s. Back then, I was only occasionally asked to “move, so I can get to the Eagle Brand milk.”
Before that, in my 30s, I usually just got a lot of, “Honey, can you reach up and hand me that Karo syrup?”
It’s a vexing rite of passage, but it certainly beats chin hair and my new least-favorite sign of aging: chest wrinkles. (I did a little research on this and discovered it’s a delightful little byproduct of aging skin and side-sleeping; you’re welcome.)
The questions from puzzled 20- and 30-something’s can happen on any aisle but I’ve personally had more inquiries in the baking section.
It usually goes like this:
“Excuse me, you have chest wrinkles, can you tell me what is the difference between all-purpose and self-rising flour?”
And, of course, I can do exactly that to an annoying degree. If you stick around long enough I'll treat you to my opinion on buttermilk powder versus real buttermilk, off-brand marshmallows and a little ditty of a diatribe that I like to call “Imitation vanilla extract (What are you THINKING?) or, just in time for the holidays, “Almond bark doesn’t grow on trees. At least I don’t think so.”
My FB friend said she feels like Yoda in the grocery store now and I think she nailed it perfectly.
Like Yoda, we are wiser, we look best in loose-fitting tunics and our eyes are our best feature these days.
More important, we just seem competent. We bound into the store, wrassle that buggy out of the corral and wipe it down with that sani-wipe gizmo and power-push through the aisles, stopping only to dispense advice like a middle-age chest-wrinkled fairy.
“What do I do with this?” a young woman asked me while holding a bunch of kale. “I know I’m supposed to eat it. Everyone says so.”
“Ah! That’s easy, I said. “Kale is our nation’s newest food obsession and a trendy superfood. Just wash it for six or seven hours, dry it for another hour or so, give the leaves a rough-chop, add some sea salt and a good quality olive oil and bake at 400 until crispy.”
See how easy? Of course I didn’t tell her that potato chips are much tastier and way easier. She'll have to do some things on her own.