I am not a regular shopper at Whole Foods Market.
I like going there and feel better about myself when I do. But it strikes me as a sort of community among its regular shoppers—health conscious and committed to a lifestyle replete with Vegan dieters and Yoga instructors.
I just don’t feel like I fit in there and suspect they sense a fraud. Or at least a Kroger shopper who missed the turn for Kroger and is in too big a hurry to turn around.
It’s a little confusing for me and a little daunting too.
I experience the same sensation when I am at a hardware store. Just looking at my hands you can tell I have never been asked by a neighbor if they could borrow some of my tools. That would be a pointless and rude and embarrassing to me. Like asking the neighbor whose house is in foreclosure if you can borrow $20. Just a common sense thing it never occurs to anyone ever to do in any neighborhood I have ever lives in.
So bracing with my insecurities about neither being ever asked for direction to Rainbow Blossom, I confidently strode into Whole Foods Market.
So far, so good. No one seems to be whispering “Who is that man who looks like he still buys Wonder Bread and what is he doing here?”
I tried to look healthy and fit in. I mussed my hair and looked earnestly at a magazine featuring simple, austere, healthful living practices.
I noticed a lot of unhealthy and weak looking people shopping and wasn’t sure if they were here to change the way they look or if their pallid complexions were the result of too many glasses of strained carrot juice.
I picked out a low calorie dinner that I would love to have someone I know walk by and see me eating. And say, “John, I didn’t know you were into….” And I could smile –while chewing (healthy food is really easy to chew so this isn’t difficutl or rude to do—and give them an affirming nod that says “Oh yeah. I am a regular.” But not having to say it since that would be a lie.
Nobody I knew saw me and now it was time to leave.
I put a serious concentrated look on my face with just a hint of deprivation that sent the message, “I may have just eaten but I am nowhere near full. And I only pretended to enjoy those things that looked like au gratin potatoes but tasted like something that someone tried to make look like au gratin potatoes otherwise no one would ever buy them because they taste like the drained off juice from real au gratin potatoes but without the cheese or potatoes.”
In other words, I was fitting in.
Until I walked out the store exit and while standing in the alcove bent down to look at the free magazine section. After thumbing through a publication with pictures of the health food culture equivalent of really, really smart nerdy looking people. Except instead of having the excuse of having a stratospheric IQ or two PHds from MIT, they were just really fanatical about health food. And remote from me.
So I looked around to make sure no one was looking, grabbed the gigantic glossy and gaudy issue of NFocus magazine and quickly folded it under my arm and walked rapidly to my car. Hoping to escape before the Whole Foods fraud alarm went off or any of my newfound Whole Foods Market compatriots got my license plate.