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2008-04-15 - 2:23 p.m.

I had this thought last night, and I haven't been grocery shopping in a little while, so I don't know where it came from.

So you know how you hear about subtle states of being that have names in French but don't in English? I'm sure this happens in all kinds of ways from language to language, but the French seem to have sat down more often than some others and come up with names for stuff that we feel but which is kind of vague and inconsequential. But really French, too, in some way. Anyway, I thought of one of these. There's a Super Fresh grocery story I used to go to in Arbutus, an older, busted-up, blue-collar suburb southwest of Baltimore. They vote for Republicans there and put up signs of support for little-league football teams, that sort of thing. Anyway, when I lived there a few years ago, I'd go to this Super Fresh after work. And I worked downtown, in a modern, shiny, fast office building and would pay $11 to get my car out of the parking garage and then pass pretty downtown people on my way home and park and say hello to my roommates and then get hungry and drive the ten blocks to the Arbutus Super Fresh. And the feeling is this: The Feeling One Gets When, as an Adult, Shopping for Groceries in a Grocery Store That Looks How You Remember Grocery Stores Looking When You Were a Child.

I guess it was the floor tiles and the brands of white bread they had and the fogged-plexiglass look of the deli counter. And the cashiers' hair: a lot of hairspray. It wasn't a bad feeling at all--far from it--but it made me feel as if I'd round a corner and see my mom scanning the shelves for the right kind of peanut butter, me or my little brother too big for the baby seat but sitting in it anyway, kicking our legs and reaching for something we weren't allowed to have.

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