the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Negative Effect of my Vons Club Card on my Sex Life


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. 

Problem solved.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  138th Post About Sophia


  1. deannie

    You are not alone. Christie Brinkley’s husband, Mr. Brinkley, had his insecurities about being married to a career woman also.

  2. the psycho therapist

    “Every psychological problem has a solution if you are willing to work on yourself.”

    Truth, dat and how many do, Neil, how many do?
    Happy Monday to you and the card.

  3. velma

    Dare to take the next step now, and use that card at a Pavilions….

  4. kimananda

    And there’s the solution right there. The way to be happy in a relationship with a career woman is for the man to also have a career. Good luck with the new card. 😉

  5. Michele

    Wow. Just wow. I just love your writing, Neil. Do you use the card or the key tag?

  6. Elisabeth

    The description of the New York supermarket fit to a T that of the supermarket I used where I used to shop in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Man, I am still laughing out loud!

    This entire post rocked my socks. Which I needed on this, the first day of the new academic year!

  7. better safe than sorry

    i kept my maiden name when i got married, 27 years ago. i wonder if my husband is insecure???
    my only real concern about this entire post is that i think you should actually post a pic of yourself in her underwear, how do you know you don’t look better in them then her. as a woman, i know whenever i look at myself in the mirror, i always find fault. maybe you’re doing the same thing, maybe you look better in her underwear then she does???

  8. Neil

    Safe — You’ll just have to take my word on it. Although I don’t look bad.

  9. justrun

    That’s too funny, Neil.
    I had a professor in college that told us a story of the time a credit card bill came adressed to her and her husband as “To: Dr. and Mrs.” but she was the only one of them that was a Dr. She said they had to cancel the card.

  10. Serena

    Ah, Neil. Baring it all for the online world. Love it.

  11. kristen

    The one thing I love about the burbs is the big grocery store and there was nothing more disgusting than the Gristede’s on 2nd Avenue and 63rd.
    I’ve seen stepford checkout chicks at more than one Vons in Redondo Beach. I kicked one in the balls just for a reaction.

  12. plain jane

    Neil, destroy your Vons card immediately (I’m sorry if it ruins your sex life). Don’t you know that discount cards are just a way to track your purchases? The FBI is probably poring over the list of your supermarket purchases as we speak.

  13. Melissa

    So did you make Andrea give the server the coupon at Chicago Ribs or did you do it yourself?

  14. Neil

    Kristen — That’s exactly the area where Sophia is now. I need to find out what supermarket she’s using.

    Melissa — Thank you for remembering the reference. I figured only Sophia would get it!

    Plain Jane — I absolutely know the real reason for these stupid cards. But what can you do? They’re “the man.”

    Velma — We should explain to those not in the know that Pavillions is the “upscale” Vons — the same items for more money.

    Michele –I always lose those key tags.

    Kimananda — Exactly!  Together, but with lives of their own.

    Elisabeth — Maybe my mother will come on later and tell you that I’m not exaggerating about our local supermarket in Flushing.  It’s like visiting a high-security prison.

  15. Miss Eight-oh-Five

    I much prefer surly teenaged check-out girls to the perky middle-aged ones who look at your credit card and call you by name. It feels like an invasion of privacy. Just because you can discern important things about my personal life from my grocery store purchases (I have a canker sore; I’m on my period; I’m having potato chips and a jumbo rice krispies treat for dinner) doesn’t mean you can call me by name.

  16. Karl

    The supermarkets in California are amazing! They’re nicer than the Taj Mahal. Spanish tile and mahogany cabinetry. Incredible. Plus, the employees help you pick out good beer.

  17. ms. sizzle

    way to take a hold of your erectile dysfunction.

    ;0 sizz


    After avoiding WinnDixie for nearly a year, feeling left out of the bonus value club but too anxious to bare my personal info and phone numbers, I filled out the form and joined with a false information… glad I got that off my chest, Mr. Lansky.

  19. V-Grrrl

    Neil, here’s a modern solution to your dilemma. Create a new surname to serve both you and Sophia. I recommend Kransky because I know you don’t want to be Mr. LAMER!

  20. kapgar

    Oh yeah, now that’s timing. You call me macho and my post for the day is an introspective re-evaluation of my blogging tendencies. Oh joy.

  21. Jody

    I think Margaret and V-Grrrl are on the right track. I also give false info on those cards. If you forget your card, you can enter your backup information on the keypad and still get the discounts. The problem is I can’t remember the false information I gave them and end up getting a new card to accumulate more unused points. Not to mention getting duplicate/triplicate junk mail at home. Maybe I should give them a false address too….hmmm Margaret may be on to something!

  22. paperback writer

    Elisabeth – it wasn’t perchance the Giant Eagle on Murray Ave was it? I hate that grocery store. I drive to the Waterfront – when I can convince my husband – just to shop there.

  23. elle

    Wait a second… you had sex with your mother-in-law’s chiropractor’s sister?? That’s a little too incestuous for me, pal. ew.

  24. amanda

    haha…i love supermarkets, especially suburban ones…but i have to say, i will never look at my food emporium gold points card the same way again.

  25. communicatrix

    Ha ha! That is my evil, career woman payback: emasculating my men with incentive programs. You fools never see it coming.

    Unfortunately, this also means my keychain weighs about 20 lbs. But it’s worth it. Oh, is it worth it…

  26. Roberta

    The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back in the famed Arthur Fonzerelli/Pinky Tuscadero breakup was when a member of the paparazzi (Pinky’s) referred to the ‘Fonz’ as ‘Mr. Tuscadero’.
    “That is NOT Mr. Tuscadero”, Pinky huffed, “that is the FONZ”.
    As though ,that were enough to restore the now shriveled Fonzie’s manhood!

  27. Neil

    Important Update from Elaine Kramer, my mother —

    “It seems that the biggest problem in the local Pathmark supermarket on Kissena Boulevard is that the population is aging, and many older customers are now travelling around in these motorized wheelchairs, which makes the whole store into one chaotic ride of bumper cars.”

    Roberta — I’m not even going to ask why you remember that info.   But I’m hoping you’re having a nice happy Monday at work. In fact, Sunday, Monday, Happy Days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days, Thursday, Friday, Happy Days, Saturday, what a day, Rockin all week with you.

  28. Tara

    If you ever want to get the unhappy East Coast grocery store feel back, you could always go to a convenience store in L.A. Unless they’ve changed, they used to always make me feel like a stupid annoying American when all I wanted was a carton of milk.

  29. bookfraud

    after i stopped laughing, i realized that i must be insane. ny supermarkets are still like that, but worse in a way. when trader joe’s opened in manhattan, it became survival of the fittest to see who got what was left on the shelves. i do pine for wide aisles and cashiers who don’t sneer.

    keep the faith, keep the vons card.

  30. M.A.

    dear lord. that was funny.

  31. Sarah Lynn

    Did you really have sex with her or is this just fodder for good story?

  32. Nance

    “Dairy product”=still making me laugh. Stellar, Neil. Just stellar. Thanks for a good laugh at the end of my first day back at The Rock.

  33. littlepurplecow

    Heck, you might even be ready to try on “the pants,” Senor Macho.

  34. Neil

    Sarah Lynn — what kind of question is that? I’m certainly not the type to “kiss and tell!”

  35. mckay

    i hate all those damn club cards.

    did you know that japansese tourist buses stop at the gelson’s in newport beach?

    margaret’s idea only works if you pay cash to remain completely annon.

    i use my credit card for everything to get the airline miles, so i guess ralphs and uncle sam know i use margarine, eat blueberry waffles and drink red wine.

    i love the fact that police can catch criminals by reviewing suspects’ purchases.

    great post!

  36. Roberta

    (status restored.)
    (you’re too funny.)

  37. laurie

    When I got divorced, I signed up for my Ralph’s club card under the name of Janet Jackson so they’d have to call me Miss Jackson… If they’re nasty.

    I do NOT know why that joke never gets old to me! But it doesn’t.

  38. mysterygirl!

    I would do pretty much anything to save $10.55, including responding to the wrong name and letting the store track my purchases of ridiculously fatty, processed foods. I say roll with it. 🙂

  39. Non-Highlighted Heather

    He so did not have sex with her.

  40. Neil

    Heather — Did the “We made love for an hour” give it away? But really — What is an “hour” anyway? Did you know that some Jewish religious scholars believe that when the Bible says the world was created in “six days,” those “days” could have been a thousand years or a thousandth of a second?  An hour to me might not be an hour to you.

    An hour to me could be, say, three minutes.

    If you were a career woman who studied the theory of relativity at some prominent university, like I did, this would be easier for you understand.

  41. Mr. Fabulous

    I wanted you to like me. I wanted you to respect me.

    That ship has sailed, my friend. That ship has sailed…

  42. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Honey, you may think you’re living outside the time continuum, but to those of us on the receiving end, it’s still only 3 minutes. xo

  43. Hilly

    You go on with your bad ass self, Neil….get that Von’s Club Card and rock it!

    My husband hails from Indiana and HATES the whole club card system but will enter in our phone number at the little pay station rather than carry a card; it is some sort of odd principle.

    Funny about NY; I remember those two years I lived there wondering why the hell we had to go to the meat store, the bakery, the produce stand and the best store around was King Cullen, a tiny little shithole? No wonder New Yorkers come here and think our supermarkets really are super!

  44. psychotoddler

    Wait, are you telling me that you can actually push your shopping cart around in the aisles there and not worry about getting that one front wheel that’s permanantly turned sideways stuck in that corner of linoleum tile that’s been chipped away since 1967?

    California, here I come!

  45. Alexandra

    is that true? your mother-in-law sets you up on dates? wow

  46. Leah

    Hate club cards… usually, if you just tell the checkout girl that you forgot yours….she’ll scan a random one at the register. Love that….

  47. scott

    And she looks better in her underwear than I do.

    Let us be the judge of that. Post a picture of her in her underwear and then one of you in her underwear and we’ll judge them.

    Don’t worry about how you look. Most guys would be happy just to be in a woman’s underwear, I think.

    Hello, Neil.

  48. Jocelyn

    Another hilarious post, Neil.

    I don’t know anything about those supermarkets being from Ontario, but I now have to carry a separate wallet just to hold all the club cards I’ve accumulated!

  49. modigli

    I lost my Von’s card. So I use my phone # every time I go in. This causes the cashier to say “Thank you, Mrs. Lin” … who must have had the number before me. I just smile and chuckle! 🙂

    Now, I wonder who found MY card and is being called by my name when they go shopping?!

  50. Sandra

    Thank goodness! I was about to suggest just what you did today. Good work.

  51. Lord Chimmy

    Too bad you weren’t a writer for Seinfeld. They could’ve kept that show running for 10 more years.

  52. wordgirl

    What kind of ball-less woman is known by her husband’s name?

  53. Jules

    She wears the pants and looks better in her panties – she’s the perfect woman Neil.

  54. Sarah Lynn

    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.

    Ok – you are not the type to kiss and tell? Y ou are the type to F*!? and tell!

  55. La Agua Fresca - Laughing out Loud!


    That’s funny!

    Well, isn’t it a trend now for women not to change her last name after marriage?

  56. rach

    Emasculation of the Kramer is now over, a return to a hopeful normal sex life and no more angst about supposed inferiority

  57. Jessica

    Wow, Neil….you sure do make Sophia sound terrific – I’m afraid if she ever got her own blog, you would be come known as “that guy who introduced me to Sophia’s blog.”

  58. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    Relationship problems are sometimes overthought.

    I have California to thank for trending stores to clean bright spaces with lawn furniture and water hoses, huh?

  59. CrankMama

    You raise a great point! So glad I changed my name, for as a career woman I’m already contributing to the emasculation of my dear hub.

    -Mrs. Sibley

  60. Rachel

    awww you sound like such a good boyfriend.

    I read that Forbes article…kind of creepy.

    Though I have never in my life made more money than my boyfriend – there is still time:)

    That is – when I get published and get #1 bestseller list and all that 😉

  61. Danny

    Woo-hoo, I finally made “Blog Crush of the Day!” And here I was convinced that this feature was simply a flirting tool for your bevy of female readers. Or maybe it was but now that you signed up for your own Vons card you feel secure enough in your masculinity to stop ignoring your male readers!

    Vons always scared me for some reason, I buy most of my staples at Ralph’s. But I’d cut my tongue out before buying meat in either of those stores, for that I go to Whole Foods, Gelson’s, or the butchers at Farmers Market even though all of them probably use the same cache of diseased cows.

  62. Neil

    Danny — I know EXACTLY why Vons creeps you out. When I moved here, the first thing I said was, “Vons? Who the hell names a supermarket with a Nazi name?”

  63. heidi

    I always use Mr. Pancake’s card but I love when they callme Mrs. Pancake!!!

    Oh and we career women rock! I make the big bucks AND make dinner AND iron the shirts! But I DON’T condone his staying at home to blogs. His ass can go to work just like me!

  64. Heather

    This is excellent. I hate grocery stores, there is no love in our house after the grocery store. And while I really thinking you are setting a bad example here of marital infidelity (haha) I don’t blame her for never calling again.

    And the same thing happens with me with my Safeway card. I think I was like Robert Black or something like that, and clearly I was a fraud, since I am a girl. But I dont like them to surveil my shopping habits anyway. No one needs to know how many fig newtons I buy!

    That mind of yours, I think you think about sex allatime, eh? Way to go!

  65. Caryn

    Ahh, I miss Ralph’s

  66. George

    Vons Card data is never shared with anyone, therefore enabling a firewall against the subpoena of anyone’s data.

  67. Fitena

    I can’t believe am laughing while reading about an old woman who died ina supermarket and was left there! lol! Am I?
    Why did it take you so long to sign up your own anyway huh?


  68. Michael

    Ahhh… funny story, but I missed something. I missed the part where you, ah… SEPARATED or DIVORCED from Sophia? I mean, you WOULDN’T be sleeping with another WOMAN while married, right?

    Oops, my bad…this is California. Guilt doesn’t prevent erectile dysfunction, the stupid Vons Club card does the trick.


  69. Roonie

    This was a great post. And now I know who Sophia is!

  70. Amanda

    Great story. I did a google search for “Vons card change phone number” and your blog came up. (I just moved and need to change my contact info.) Very amusing!

  71. Andrew

    Interesting story. Kinda feel bad for you that something so insignificant as a mistaken name can give you performance difficulties, I’m suspecting there’s probably deeper issues than just name there. But hey. Enjoy that new card of yours there, pal.

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