Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Where the Straws Are

The supermarket in Back Bay is called the Star Market. Going to "the Star" sounds like an intergalactic odyssey but all you do is walk up a sloping sidewalk past Lord & Taylor and Saks.

Which is not to say that shopping at the Star is not an adventure these days, when everything is getting moved around and weirdly juxtaposed again. This has been happening every two years or so, and it's always frustrating. I guess one can only run a supermarket for so long before it gets so boring that one needs to shake things up.

It appears that the excuse this time was eliminating the quasi–Whole Foods section. All the all-natural/organic-y stuff seems to be gone, replaced by giant packages of toilet paper that would not fit in the average Back Bay apartment. But the "natural" food could just be hiding in another part of the store that I missed. As they slowly shift things around, the aisle signs lie and the shelves are more surreal than logical, with jello next to tuna and toothpaste next to olive oil.  

When the dust settles, I spend months learning where everything is shelved, and there will be about 18 months where I can race around and get what I need fast. Then they will decide to fling everything around again. 

The other day I came home with cranberry sauce and McVitie's Digestives, not because I wanted or needed either, but because I was afraid I'd never find them again. I've been looking for the salsa we like for a couple of weeks now.

A few days ago we ran out of straws and I was filled with dread at the thought of replacing them. We do have a lot of skinny, stupid, useless straws from IKEA, where I've never had ANY success in shopping. Nothing is my taste, even their chocolate disappoints me, and I resent having to take a forced march along their fascist pathway when I want to buy one thing. I dread going; I try never to go, but we still end up there every few years on some doomed quest for a storage solution or something. Then we go again — to return whatever we bought. 

The only things I've ever kept from IKEA are a dying plant that I just left in the alley for someone to rescue (and someone did) and a huge bag of colorful, stupidly skinny straws that cost a buck. If I use three of them, they are an adequate delivery method for, say, chocolate milk. But I only use straws for smoothies. Smoothies require a straw. If I skip it, I get to the end of the day and discover I've been walking around with pale ring of smoothie around my mouth. But the stupidly skinny straws get clogged with bits of mango and pineapple. 

I'd rather go to our messed-up Star than IKEA. Here's what I learned on my quest for straws.

1. If you need clothespins, they are with the bottled water. Makes sense, right? Or not.

2. There are a few packs of cute paper straws between pretzels and canned seltzer. Paper straws are a bad idea if your drinks sit around for a long time. I re-use plastic straws — that's how green I am. And the cats steal them and play with them. I actually have nice straws all over my house but they have toothmarks, so leaky.

3. The kosher section is the place to go for straws. Just look for the matzo ball mix, of course:

These happen to be sipper straws, which I didn't want. Maybe they are meant for matzo smoothies?

4.  If you need a corkscrew or a yogurt cup, they're between trash bags and aluminum foil. Just because.

We gave up and asked a clerk to find some straws. She called for back-up, and together they produced the spoon straws and a box of plastic straws that were good enough. Before getting in line, I decided I wanted a second box, but I couldn't find them. They could be anywhere: try baked beans, detergent, cat food. I'm wondering if maybe they ran to CVS and got some for me there.


  1. Your description of Ikea is perfect! "I resent having to take a forced march along their fascist pathway when I want to buy one thing." So very true! I am pretty sure that I've never purchased a thing at Ikea, but The Hubby always finds a knife or pan or little clippy things that he cannot live without. That whole reorg of the store sounds frustrating, and hilarious if you have the time to wander...lost...until you find what you are looking for. Why anger your customers like that?!?

  2. Yes, when I think of gallons of water, I think clothes pins..


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