The Parallel Shopping Experience


The Parallel Shopping Experience is that awkwardness that occurs when you arrive at the supermarket at exactly the same time as someone else. It could be a stranger who attracts your attention for a number of reasons – those details are known only by you – or it could be someone you know already. Although, strangely, if it is the latter, you probably don’t know them super well. Not like a besty, or your mum, you know? And then the uncomfortable experience begins. You arrive at the same time, you shop at the same pace, you continually cross paths at Indian curry pastes, the wall of lettuce, free range eggs, exotic bio-dynamic, organic, gluten free dips (still looking the discerning and sophisticated shopper), then tampons, super strength antibacterial deodorants, and toilet paper (cover blown). As you pass each other, time and time again, there is the initial eye contact, the half way smile, the slight aknowledgement of eyebrows lifted or, if you know them, the “How’re things?”. And then, in the same spirit, you arrive at the exact same time at the cash registers. At this point the whole experience has become so uncomfortable and traumatic that a silent agreement is reached and you line up at opposite ends of the vast zone of payment points, sometimes even resorting to self service, to avoid any further contact. Worst case scenario? They parked real close to you in the supermarket carpark.

I would like to share with you the story of one such Parallel Shopping Experience.

It was his hand knit sweater, which attracted my attention. For a youngish man, with sunbleached wispy hair, the jumper was a slightly warring fashion choice. And I guess it was a bit about the wheelchair too. Youngish man. Wispy sun-bleached out-doorsy hair. Chunky brown hand knit. Wheel chair. Safely inside my head I’m thinking, “What’s your story?”. Then the awkwardness began. Same pace! We headed around the aisles and we were neck and neck, passing tinned foods, carbs, baby products, wizzing around the bend at personal hygeine, down the first straight past frozen foods, fresh foods, dairy and bakery and then the home straight, heading towards the finishing line and the, thank you God, two lanes of cash registers. I’m exhausted just reliving this. But he was a gun in that wheelchair. His lap was laden with shopping as he, yes, that’s right, beat me out the automatic doors.

I began across the carpark, watching as he headed towards the beat up station wagon which was parked (I know, right?) directly next to my car.

Well. Now.

He was super quick having the advantage of the wheels on his chair, and he spun across that tar sealing with the finesse of a champion ice skater. Once at his car, he got out of the chair, stood up straight and strong, opened the back passenger door, and threw his heavy bag of shopping in the back seat. Then he folded up his wheelchair, picking it up with one hand, walked with the chair to the back, and he opened the boot with his other hand. Not even a limp.

I blinked a few times and my jaw did drop somewhat. Then I got into my car, mindful the Kanga Pops might melt, and drove directly home.


Taking Things Into Your Own Hands

I remember how funny it was, when my boys were still at kindergarten, to see the occasional little girl with an odd asymmetrical haircut. One day they would be adorable, neat, clean, symmetrical miniatures of their mums, but with lace-frilled ankle socks and wispy piggy tails, and the next day they would turn up to kindy, equally well dressed but with monster hair – ragged and choppy. Of course the little version had played hairdressers and now the horrified mum needed to explain the cute travesty to anyone who would listen.

Fast forward 10 years – they say boys develop more slowly than girls – and my 14 year old decides to cut his own hair.


Okay, so that’s not actually him. There was some other overly confident teen in this world who went down the same pathway in life. Truth was, when I first saw my own son’s hair, I went into shock and just had to fix things up!

Just now I went on a Google search and found a whole lot of little folk who took the scissors into their own hands.









The Principal’s Award

IMG_0269Raising teenage boys is an odyssey characterised by eruptions of grumpy old-man-likeness, managing and attempting to budge lumps of human mass, struck immobile by extreme inertia, and unexpected, fresh, humourous reflections on life. Boys are dopey, tender and fun. And, thank God, they are wired to adore and protect their mums.

Demitri (pictured above with black eye) is strangely hard working and extremely lazy. I have watched him through the drive through window at his workplace and he is a gun! Yet I’ve tried to get him out of bed many times to get ready for school and it is bloody hard work. And homework? What is….? So, when he came home from school and announced he had won a Principal’s award we went through that whole process. You know? We looked long and hard into each other’s eyes while we tried to make sense of this news. I guess you’d call it the shock phase. Then the funny side of the situation struck us both and we doubled over with mirth, both believing some bizarre mistake had occured. Honestly? After that I put the whole episode behind me.

One day Demitri came home with a certificate.

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Yep. We still both think it is very funny.

Love that kid.

My Mother’s Pearls of Wisdom

It is school holidays and both my boys have said how much they would like to visit Grandma.

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Grandma lives about an hour’s drive from our home but the trip is always worth it, in their estimation, because they get a lot of laughs. Grandad is Grandma’s comedic foil. I’ll admit, it is fun.

This time we couldn’t coordinate both my boys so we decided to see Grandma and Grandad in two separate trips. I drove my 16 year old and his girlfriend down the freeway on Wednesday afternoon.

There was a serious moment in their sitting room, as Grandma reflected upon the recent passing of a family member and the unforgiveness that died along with her. My son and his girlfriend were listening with half their attention devoted to electronic devices. Grandma suddenly demanded their full attention and said, “Demitri.? Maddie? I want you to know how important it is to forgive the people in your lives. People will always sin against you but it is not worth dying without forgiveness in your heart.” She paused as the magnitude and significance of her wisdom could sink in. The kids stared reflectively and seriously at the lounge room walls. Then she added, “And never take Ice (meth).”

Favourite Movies: About A Boy

10 things I love about this movie:

  1. Hugh Grant is extremely convincing as a self absorbed, emotionally unavailable ass-hole. Just saying…
  2. Nearly all my favourite movies are about connection and community.
  3. The dialogue is extremely funny. The sense of timing and the comic delivery I can not fault.
  4. The dialogue and narrative is also extremely insightful and reflects real-life human behaviour and experience.
  5. The characters are well drawn and unique and you feel you know them.
  6. Toni Colette is awesome (I met her down Chapel St. once. She asked me the time and we shared an eye to eye significant moment where she waited for me to recognise her.)
  7. There are three extraordinary scenes, which fill me with anticipation and delight every single time I watch the movie; the dead duck scene, the scene where Will asks Marcus how things are going with Marcus’ mum, Fiona, and the school performance scene (not in the original story, but still a stroke of genius).
  8. The costumes. I.e. fluffy jumpers.
  9. The overall premise that “Man is not an Island” and how this is explored and developed through the two main characters, Will and Marcus.
  10. Marcus. What a little star. What a performance.