Early in our marriage, Maureen asked me if I wanted to watch the kids or go to the grocery store. One of those trick questions husbands are asked frequently. Since there were seven kids (though the majority required little or no supervision) I opted for the store, and thus became the designated shopper and errand runner for those occasions when she didn’t care to go herself. I never minded.

In those long ago days, when there were perhaps three flavors of potato chips, for example, the densest husband with a list could easily navigate a grocery store. By the time this century rolled around, with 68 flavors of chips, 32 varieties of canned tomatoes, etc. etc., there was usually at least one item that wound up in a category like the grail or golden fleece. I was known to visit three or four stores in search of a desired item.

At some point, she began advising me, “Don’t give yourself a headache looking for this. If you don’t see it, just get something close.”

This is good advice I still try to subscribe to, in shopping and life. Don’t give yourself a headache looking for something that isn’t there, an acceptable substitute is likely available.


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