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Supermarket to the Rescue

by Ferida Wolff




I was standing at the produce aisle of the supermarket contemplating the desirability of buying heritage tomatoes over the less expensive and more uniformly shaped local ones when I felt the familiar churning sensation in my solar plexus that signals the beginning of a hot flash. From prior experience, I know that a hot flash can strike at any time, any place, and even though I should be past this stage, I still occasionally get them. More often than not it is inconvenient, frequently embarrassing, and usually without regard for privacy or appropriateness. But if I have to have one, the supermarket is the best place to have it.


The supermarket is a flasher’s heaven. Nowhere else are there so many options for cooling an overheated body. I discovered this over the course of many meltdowns while shopping. I’ll let you in on some survival tricks I have learned that can help you get through a supermarket flash.


As soon as you get the pre-flash signal, stop what you are doing and head straight for the fresh fish counter. There is usually a display in front with mesh bags of mussels or plastic tubs of clam dip settled in chipped ice. Rest your wrists on the ice while you pretend to ponder the products. Should the ice melt while you are still flashing, feel free to move to another spot and ponder another product. Your flash should stop well before you melt all the ice but if not, it is perfectly acceptable to point out to the clerk that the ice needs replenishing so the products don’t spoil. It is always good to be aware of your fellow shoppers’ safety.


If there is no available ice at the fish counter, the next best place for heat relief is the dairy aisle. Move the containers of milk aside and lean your arms into the refrigerated case. Don’t worry about it appearing odd; the other shoppers will merely assume that you are looking for the freshest date which can usually be found on the container at the very end of the stack. Occasionally, you may startle a clerk putting milk into the back of the case. Should this occur, ask the clerk a question that will send her or him to search for a product. For example, you might ask if the buffalo milk has been delivered. If the clerk says that they don’t carry buffalo milk, mention that they carry buffalo mozzarella that comes from buffalo milk so the milk must be around somewhere. Then politely ask the clerk to please check in the back. That will give you extra time to commune with the refrigerated air. When the clerk returns to tell you that there is no buffalo milk, which is extremely likely, gently extract your now cooled self and continue shopping. Before you go, do remember to thank the clerk who is bound to retell the encounter to family and friends and possibly any strangers within earshot so you will at least be able to salvage some degree of dignity through your good manners.


In extreme cases of unrelenting inner heat, there is the full-sized ice cream freezer. Simply open the door, step in toward the shelves, and let the door close on you. This probably will fog up the glass in the door and may cause ice crystals to form on the ice cream containers as they melt and refreeze, but for the moment it will feel like you have been blessed by a compassionate deity who will surely forgive your sin of keeping the freezer door open too long. Consider buying a half-gallon of mocha swirl — purely as penitence.


You should now be free to continue shopping in peace. If, however, you feel your body cooling down too much tends to segue into teeth-chattering chills — leave the store, with its air-conditioned atmosphere, as quickly as possible. And on your way out make sure to avoid certain areas of the store: the fish counter, the dairy case, and the ice cream section.


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