Jessie Raymond: Potato shopping has lost its appeal

I forgot to pick up potatoes last Friday.
This is nothing unusual. I forget groceries all the time. Sometimes it’s because I write my list on a scrap of paper and leave the paper at home. Sometimes it’s because, despite a long history indicating otherwise, I think I can get by without a list. (These are the times you’ll catch me in the supermarket looking very focused and whispering “bread, broccoli, coffee, detergent, tortillas” over and over.)
On Friday, I actually had a list on my phone — which functions more as an external memory than as a communication device these days — and I had potatoes on the list. But I hadn’t crossed off a few items I had purchased a few days earlier, like bananas and milk, figuring I would need them again soon enough. I guess potatoes had gotten lost somewhere on that part of the list.
I’m not very good at lists.
In any case, I remembered when I got home that I had forgotten to pick up potatoes. No problem. I would do it the next day.
Saturday morning, I had three errands to run, the last being to pick up the potatoes. The first errand went off as planned. The second involved not being able to find an item I needed, leading to stops at two other stores until I found it, at which point it was almost lunchtime. So I went home to eat.
When I pulled into the driveway, I realized that I had forgotten to stop at the grocery store. (I’m easily distracted around mealtimes.)
On Sunday, I absolutely had to buy potatoes. We were having family over for dinner and I planned to make a ham with potatoes au gratin. Yes, the weather is still getting into the 80s every day. But we did have one cool night, and that was enough to make me feel that, dinnerwise at least, fall had arrived. Time to bring back the comfort foods.
I hit the grocery store early and prided myself on beating the rush. And while I was there, I figured I’d pick up a few items for next week, thus pushing out my next grocery run by a couple of days. So efficient!
I remembered to stock up on toilet paper and even get special ingredients for a few meals that might appeal to us during the week. I even remembered to get half-and-half. I thought of everything.
Of course I spent more than I had intended (and I forgot my reusable bags at home, but that’s pretty much a 60/40 deal even on my best days). I wheeled my cart out to the parking lot, feeling quite smug. I would be well supplied for the better part of a week.
As I loaded my Plastic Bags of Shame into the car, a voice called out. It was my nephew, hailing me from across the lot. He stopped over to make small talk and mentioned that he was making a pot roast for dinner — proof that I am not the only cook who has switched to a fall menu — and needed potatoes.
I froze.
“Potatoes!” I shouted, causing him to duck and run for cover, as if I had yelled “Grizzly!”
Once I had coaxed him out from behind the nearest car, I apologized for the outburst and explained, in far more detail than was necessary, my apparent inability to remember potatoes. He had inadvertently reminded me that I had, for a third time, forgotten to get them.
Together we walked into the store to the potato display where, once and for all, I bought the damn potatoes.
At home, I put away groceries and laughed at myself. What an airhead.
I could blame my forgetfulness on aging, but I’ve always been ditzy like this, especially when it comes to food shopping.
Once, in my late 20s, on the day before Thanksgiving, I walked out of a very crowded supermarket with an overflowing cart only to have the clerk shout at me, just as the automatic door opened, “Ma’am! Do you want to pay for those?”
Still, it got me thinking: Was my brain getting worse? As I carried the potatoes to the pantry, I reassured myself that I’ve always been absentminded in an endearing, quirky, not-at-all-alarming way.
It sounded good. And I believed it. For about two seconds.
That was when I pulled out the cupboard drawer and found an unopened bag of potatoes already in there.

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