Market Forces 

You are a long time dead, they say and that is true so I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself this weekend.

My husband had asked if I wanted to meet him for a drink after he finished work on Friday night, but I was so tired I declined and it seemed to set the pattern for the weekend. The weather was pretty exciting, with some spectacular rain early on Saturday morning, which meant the  dogs did not get walked until later. They were a bit confused by this because as good as their spatial awareness is, they clearly do not understand that the weather outside the door in the back yard, is going to be the same weather we get down in the park. They never fail to look surprised when they get out of the car and it is still raining.

Windy weather, though, meant that branches has been ripped off trees and so there was a hefty sniff-a-thon going on as we did our circuit. One branch included a huge bird nest (vacated), brilliantly constructed with twigs and also bits of plastic wrapped wire and some trellis. During a break in the storm, after I had walked the dogs, my husband and I went shopping.

When we first got to Australia, we used to go shopping together every weekend, then my husband changed jobs and his shifts were different, and our routine began to change and finally he stopped coming all together, even if he was home. As I made my lonely way around, I used to watch couples walking through the supermarket, discussing items and think, ‘How come we don’t do that anymore?’ I felt we had lost a little connection in our marriage and it was a worrying symptom of us begining to take eachother for granted. There is a scene in the film When Harry Met Sally at the airport when Harry comments that he never lets his wife take him to the airport. He explains it is the beginning of a slippery slope for couples as one day one of them will turn to the other and say, ‘How come you never take me to the airport anymore?’ Nora Ephron was a wise woman. I ended up lobbing this same relationship hand grenade out during a heated discussion one time about the shopping trips and now my husband is back, circling the aisles with me. The problem is, having my husband there is a little like having a kid in the trolley chair: you get to the checkout and suddenly find you are stacking a lot of stuff onto the conveyor belt that you did not pick off the shelves. A second pair of eyes roaming the items for sale, is a second opportunity for the evil supermarket guys to sell you stuff you do not need.

Since my husband has rejoined me on the weekend shop, our grocery bill has skyrocketed, so much that I try not to shop at all on weekends when he is not around, or I have any kind of excuse – like the weather – not to go. So I said to my husband, ‘Do you think we need to do a shop this week?’ He answered by appearing in the doorway already wearing his coat. 

I had bought a tub of rice pudding the previous week, lazy of me because it is cheap and relatively easy to cook, but I have mislaid the recipe I like to use. As we went by the fridges, I popped another tub of it in the trolley. It was over four dollars, but I was tired and had enjoyed it last week.

‘Rice pudding?’ said my husband.

‘Yeah,’ I replied, ‘I took it to work last week for lunch and it was nice – had it with some stewed rhubarb.’

‘I’ll have a pot of that,’ he replied.

My mind began whirring. Four dollars for a small tub of what is essentially milk and rice was bad enough, but eight? The tubs are an odd size with four servings per tub. I can easily stretch that to five servings but it is not a magic tub, or anything – despite what the price might have you believe – so it would only go so far, but two tubs seemed insanely extravagant. The tub I had taken was from a single product line and the last tub in the fridge was right at the back on the top shelf, in the dark.

‘I got the last tub,’ I explained, ‘you can have this one, I’ll grab something else, or come back tomorrow and see if they have restocked.’

‘No!’ he said, ‘Don’t be silly, you can have it.’

I walked briskly on towards the freezer section,  but when I looked back, my husband had not followed me. Slowly, inevitably I watched him approach the fridge. What had prompted him to do this I do not know – maybe he was looking at the other desserts available – but sure enough I watched him reach in, lean towards the back of the top shelf and triumphantly extract the one remaining pot of rice pudding from its hiding place.

He turned to me, pot in hand and raised an eyebrow.



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