I try to avoid detection. Before approaching the checkout area at Wal-Mart, I crouch behind the jewelry counter and reconnoiter the scene with binoculars borrowed from the hunting department. Once I determine there are no familiar faces in the nearest lines, I race for checkout, burning rubber with my cart’s wheels.
Despite my efforts to remain anonymous on my ice cream buying junkets – which includes taking turns shopping at every grocery story within 25 miles of home, inevitably, a despicably svelte acquaintance will sidle up to me in line and greet me with a dazzling smile while surreptitiously eyeballing my ice cream pillage.
I hate when this happens! I paste a plastic greeting on my face, but my psyche curls into a fetal ball. I mumble something like, "Hey, what jerk left their cart here in front of me? I’m just in line for … um, this Paris Hilton rhinestone fly swatter," as I grab something from the checkout stand, while the cashier blasts into her mike, “ICE CREAM RETURNS ON CHECKOUT FOUR,” and the entire store turns to look.
Ms. Skinnier-than-thou acquaintance places her bean sprouts and diet water on the belt while I watch my six boxes of ice cream sandwiches and eight gallons of Peanut Butter Panic ice cream being rolled away.
Last week, I thought I raced into a safe checkout line. In front of me was a fawning teenage couple, and behind me was a harried mom with a gaggle of young children diverting her attention.
As I hurriedly unloaded my straining cart of frozen desserts, one of her brood exclaimed at bullhorn volume, “Mommy, why does that lady have so much ice cream?”
I forced a smile at the future CIA interrogator and explained, “I have a giant freezer I’m stocking for the entire year.”
Actually, I have a tiny freezer in my refrigerator I was stocking for the next two hours. I suppose I should feel guilty for lying to a child, but I’m not about to go out and buy a freezer just to justify my fudge-bar fudging.
But yesterday at Wal-Mart, I got lucky. In checkout 10 was a guy with a basket more shocking than mine. I tucked into line behind him and joined in eyeing his purchases: eight gigantic bags of dry cereal and five cans of Reddi-Whip. Thirteen puzzled shoppers in line stared at his basket, with 13 different naughty scenarios playing in their imaginations.
This was good. Nobody even gave my cart a glance. In fact, I almost darted back to the freezer section for 12 more gallons of ice cream.
I could stop at Home Depot and buy that giant freezer on my way home.