How Smart Phones Ruin Shopping

One of the delights of being Da Mama is to send a husband and child out on a shopping trip. Watching them screw up is fun. There is nothing more enjoyable than the anticipation of a soul-cleansing scream at the family for Doing It Wrong when being sent out shopping.

My parents understood this perfectly. Mom would write out a list on the back of an envelope and hand it to my father. Dad would take the envelope as importantly as a five year old sent to the corner store and go to the grocery store. The list would say:

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Chocolate chips[1]

Simple, yes?

Well, we usually ate margarine on our bread, but Dad realized vaguely that margarine and butter weren’t quite the same thing. He’d stand perplexed in front of the dairy aisle for at least 20 minutes, while time was dribbling away to get the damned Toll House cookies done so that we could have food to feed our ravening hoard of relatives come some sacred holiday.

Daddy, a Captain in the Overthink Army, would get some weird oil product we’d never bought in our lives. Never mind that for the past 20 years of marriage, his wife had always used butter and only butter to bake those confections of delicious goodness, chocolate chip cookies.

Eggs were another conundrum. Should how many should he get? And what size? Does the color of the shell matter? These things are a terrible dilemma. Getting it wrong meant that he was not being a Very Useful Engine and a fate not to be borne.

As far as chocolate chips? Look, there’s only one type of chocolate chip. We all know that if you’re making Toll House Cookies, you only use Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate chips, even if they are encouraging third world mothers to starve their babies using watered down formula. You gotta have standards, people.

Did Daddy understand this? He did not. As far as he was concerned Hershey’s was the final name in chocolate[2]. But Hershey’s chocolate chips do not have the piquant bite of Nestlé’s, and the cookies would be All Ruined in the eyes of his children. Really. There’d be tears, weeping and refusal to eat cookies. Honest.

So, all in all, that was a lot of pressure to put on a man who might be able to program a missile to follow an escaping Godless Commie spy out of honest American airspace, but was helpless when he was faced with the complications of kitchenry.

The eyerolling at home was wonderfully entertaining.

Do I get this pleasure? No, I do not. If my son (to pick a person at random) in a fit of forgetfulness while contemplating whether Sonic the Hedgehog could beat Starscream in a battle to the death forgets to bring his grocery list with him, I just get a text message and a request to email it. Worse? If the guys aren’t sure what they’re supposed to bring home, do they guess like any normal male so I can roll my eyes at how little they understand about how the home is run?


I get a phone call.

I am deprived of the little pleasures. Pity me and my sad existence.


[1]Mom only sent Dad out for small lists when she was in the middle of doing Serious Baking in anticipation of guests arriving the next day.

[2] Households with interfaith marriages do have their challenges, don’t they?

3 Replies to “How Smart Phones Ruin Shopping”

  1. I’ve been reading some of your entries, Noel, and enjoying them! I picked this one at random, as a place to say so.

    You remind me, stylistically, of Spider Robinson. If he were a mother, I guess.

  2. My introduction to Robinson was in what I suspect is the more usual order: I encountered Callahan’s first, and his other work later. Anyway, keep up the good work!

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