I lied to you on my last blog post — the one about that Forbes article, “Don’t Marry Career Women.” I made it sound as if I’m a super-cool feminist guy, the type of evolved man who doesn’t mind one bit that Sophia “wears the pants in the family.”
I lied. I wanted you to like me. I wanted you to respect me. I wanted you to say, “Neilochka is so much more of a feminist than macho bloggers like PaulyD and Kapgar. I’m only going to read his blog from now on.”
The truth is, yes — I do get insecure. There is a lot to be insecure about with Sophia. She makes more money than I do. She is smarter than I am. She has a better sense of humor than me. She can easily beat me in Ms. Pac-Man. And she looks better in her underwear than I do.
But these items are not what really bother me. I’m cool with her inherent superiority. They don’t make me feel any “less” of a man. My Achilles heel, if we can call it that, revolves around something else entirely — the use of my Vons Club Card in the supermarket.
Let me give you some history:
As an innocent young boy in Queens, New York, I remember the supermarket as an unpleasant place, a world of chaos and anger. The aisles were too small and customers were always smacking their shopping carts into each other — sometimes on purpose, as if we were in the middle of some sadistic urban demolition derby where people actually enjoyed seeing boxes of Cheerios flying onto the filthy supermarket floor. Many New Yorkers did not have cars, so this is where all aggression was released. They had “shopping cart rage.” Back in the old days, no one ever said, “excuse me.” If your cart was in the way, someone would rudely push it aside. It was a Hobbesian world of shopper eat shopper. No employee would ever help you. Once, an old woman died on Aisle Seven of my local Waldbaum’s and the employees closed the store later, just leaving her there. The underpaid checkout girls hated their jobs and never let you forget it.
When I moved to California, I was not impressed with the weather or the girls in bikinis. I had already seen that in the movies. What shocked me were the supermarkets.
They were enormous. They were clean. Three shopping carts could fit side by side in each aisle. Kids happily sat and played in their shopping carts while their mommies bought dinner. Some of these carts were bigger than the playpen I used to have as a child.
Customers were kind to each other. They actually went to the “Ten and Under Checkout line” with the ACTUAL correct number of items! They didn’t argue, like Mary Riccio’s mother used to do — that milk, eggs, yogurt, and ice cream was just one item — “dairy product.”
Life was like a dream in a California supermarket. Music by “Air Supply” was piped in on the loudspeakers. Some supermarkets were so large, you could also buy pots, pans, concert tickets, and even Samsonite luggage right there!
And the employees were always so polite. Where did they find these people? They acted less as if they had a low-paying job and more like they just won the lottery.
“Hi there, sir, can help you find the best fresh vegetables?”
“Are you looking for something that I could help you with?”
“Have you see our sale on Bounty paper towels?”
“Do you need any help carrying out that 1/2 pound bag of raisins?”
Now I knew why all these illegal immigrants were moving to California. For the supermarkets!
California supermarkets were like heaven to me — until Sophia signed up for a Vons Club Card.
Even though Sophia and I are legally married, Sophia decided to keep her last name –Lansky (what a typical career women!). She wanted to remain Sophia Lansky, not become Sophia Kramer. At first, it didn’t bother me a whole lot.
But then was the turning point.
One day, as I left my local Vons Supermarket, having just used our “joint” Vons Club Card, the overbearingly-friendly salesgirl shouted out joyfully, “You saved $10.55 today… MR. LANSKY!”
Ugh. What a strike to the male ego! And it didn’t happen just once. Every time I left the store, having used my Vons Club Card, it was the same —
…Mr. Lansky… Mr. Lansky… Mr. Lansky…!
But did I ever scream? Did I ever say, “I’m goddamn Mr. Kramer, not goddamn Mr. Lansky — you stupid Stepford checkout girl!?” No. I kept it bottled up inside.
I thought of not using the Vons Club Card at all — but I would feel like an asshole for paying an extra $10.55. It was a lose-lose situation.
The stress affected me physically. The symptoms started small. I began losing interest in sex after shopping at the supermarket. It didn’t matter if it was for bananas or milk. Just walking into Vons was a blow to my male ego. The “Mr. Lansky” line would be pounding in my brain over and over. What type of wimpy man is known by his wife’s name?
Mr. Lansky… Mr. Lansky… Mr. Lansky…
I started shopping at the over-priced Whole Foods for one good reason: they didn’t have a “club card.” Unfortunately, the mere passing of the Vons Supermarket across the street would give me the inability to have an erection for 24 hours.
I became desperate. I drove to Santa Anita racetrack and bought myself a pair of horse-blinders, to prevent me from seeing any Vons Supermarkets as I drove down the street. But I always knew the supermarkets were there, close by, mocking me — especially since Sophia’s new GPS system was constantly telling me so.
However, with Sophia away, I was desperate for some love and affection. I decided to fight my fear. On Friday night, I went out with my mother-in-law’s chiropractor’s unemployed sister, Andrea. After a nice dinner at Chicago for Ribs, we ended back at her place. We drank some wine and watched some TV. Soon, we were in her bed. It felt good to be with a woman again. I was proud of myself for moving beyond my problem. We made love for an hour. Andrea was passionate, screaming things like, “Neilochka, you are amazing!” and “I’ve never been f***ed so good!”
(note: This unemployed woman should have said, “I’ve never been f***ed so well!” — another reason to always marry a “career woman,” who usually have a better command of the English language).
The lovemaking grew even more intense. It felt as if the bed was levitating off the carpet. Her face grew red, her breathing irregular. Andrea was nearing the orgasm of her life, when I noticed that the TV in the living room was still on. It was the end of Conan O’Brien. There was a cut to a commercial — an advertisement for a certain local supermarket chain:
“This week at Vons: use your Vons Club Card and get two packages of fresh strawberries for only four dollars!”
“Don’t stop!” yelled the hyperventilating Andrea. But it was too late. The Vons Club Card took its toll, and the toll was on me.
I have not heard back from Andrea since then. And I don’t expect to.
But this tale does not end sadly. Every psychological problem has a solution, if you are willing to work on yourself.
Today, I walked into Vons like a REAL MAN and signed up for my very own Vons Club Card.
A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: 138th Post About Sophia