You wake up, do the usual, go to bed, wake up again. Nothing strange about that. Just nothing particularly interesting, either. I realised how predictable things had become one day when I found myself in the supermarket – without a list. Shock, horror, abomination! Impromptu shopping! Should I return home, collect the list and set out again on my fortnightly epic adventure amongst the stainless steel shelving and Barry Manilow soundtrack? I think not. Now is the time to indulge in something new, frightening, and knee-tremblingly different. Join me for a round of Extreme Shopping!
There are a few games in the genre. Firstly, you can merely complete your shopping to the best of your ability – sans list – and have an extremely amusing time on your return home, ticking off the things you remembered and shouting BINGO at the end if you were 100% successful. Which you won’t be if you’re my age and have a brain already well past its use-by date. Even if you manage a 90% success rate, there’s something satisfying in looking at yourself smugly in the mirror and saying, ‘Not ME for the Alzheimer’s, thank you very much!’ It’s daring. Flying blind, so to speak. Out of your comfort zone and hanging free!
Now, before you get judgemental and say, ‘get a life’, take a look at your own existence and consider whether there are any areas which could do with some excitement being injected back into them. If everything’s jolly hockey sticks, you can be excused from having to read further. If, however, you realise there’s something lacking – trust me. I’m almost a qualified fruitcake.
Included in the Extreme Shopping stable is another activity I like to call Supermarket Chaos. It involves you changing supermarkets. Just for the week, just for the hell of it. This is a real bastard, because you won’t be able to find anything. All supermarkets have different ways of arranging their stuff. You’ll need a thermos flask and a pith helmet. This is because you’ll be theriothly pithed off. Be prepared to take extra money, as naturally there’ll be ‘foreigners’ – things you can’t buy in your usual venue, which you simply must try out. Afterwards, in the totally alien car park, you get extra points if you can’t find your car. This will add to the excitement, and there’s a free set of steak knives if you actually have to call the security guard to find it for you.
If you lack the intestinal fortitude to brave the aforementioned adventure, maybe you’d like to try Product Alienation. In this game, you’re permitted to go to your usual supermarket, but you’re not allowed to buy anything you normally buy. You have to choose totally unsuitable things which you wouldn’t normally pick if you were half pumped with amphetamines and having a psychotic episode. That’s the rule. By the time you reach the checkout, you won’t recognise any of the contents of your trolley. By the time you reach next shopping day, you won’t recognise yourself. You’ll be too full of polyunsaturated fats and dangerous (but exciting) food additives you never knew existed.
A variation of this game is Trolley Alienation. This is where you do your normal shop – then covertly swap your trolley with someone else’s at the checkout counter. It’ll make you happy that they’ve done your work for you. It’ll make their husband happy that you chose the DoubleChoc GreedyGuts Cream Cake and he’s reaping the benefit.
You can employ the same tactics at home with a variation of the supermarket game called Program Alienation. Throw away the telly guide with your favourite shows carefully marked. Buy another one and pick totally crap sitcoms you wouldn’t dream of touching with Gordon Ramsay’s tongs. Make yourself sit in front of them and watch. If you have to go out, tape them. Find out what a night’s normal viewing is like for those members of the community who are brain dead and can tolerate whining American voices and horrifying smartarse kids with tombstone orthodontia who are in dire need of taxidermy. Give yourself bonus points for sitting still during the commercial breaks and enjoying them too. If you’re still awake and your dinner hasn’t come up through your nose – double points.
Getting a little bored with your Bing Crosby CD every night? Try Headbanging Horror. Go to the loudest music store in town. The one with the monster speakers which cause the entire mall to vibrate. Take notice of what ‘young people’ are buying. Especially the ones who keep saying ‘Huh?’ This is a good indication they have deafened themselves by listening to the kind of sound you require. Buy it. You will immediately feel very, very grateful you are old and not compelled to bow to peer pressure ever again.
Just bear this in mind – if you run into me in the supermarket and notice my trolley’s full of rhubarb flavoured Shagalot Condoms and Just-Add-Double-Cream pudding mixes, it’s not normal behaviour. I’m just in the middle of a thrilling round of Product Alienation …