I’m A Filthy Candy Liar

There are just some things none of us like to buy, or be seen buying. There was an “Adults Only” room in the Mom and Pop video rental place I used to go to in college. I always thought, “Who is brave enough to go in there? And more importantly…who is brave enough to come out and then pay for what they found?” Alabama had (possibly still has…I’m not sure) some weird laws about the selling of…*ahem*…adult toys. I remember going with a friend of mine to a lingerie store once and seeing their “toy” room which had a big “18 and Over Only” sign on the door. Now…we didn’t think it would be a huge deal to buy anything from that room; we were young, liberal college students! But what our fear was – who would see us walking out of that room? That was the only lingerie store in town, if anyone had a shower to go to, they came there. My friend had nightmares about walking out of the room with something incriminating in her hand, only to find her boyfriend’s Mom shopping for a gift for a friend. Or her Sunday School teacher. I was terrified about seeing a college professor.

There are just some purchases you want to make quickly AND QUIETLY.

I’m still weird about buying tampons. I got my first period the summer I turned 13…that was 24 years ago. Yet still…I won’t just go buy tampons and nothing else. And I won’t check out in a boy’s line. I have to bury the tampons in a pile of other crap, and it has to be a girl ringing me up. And don’t even get me started about times in my life when I’ve had to buy pregnancy tests. When Donnie and I were TTC for several years, I bought them ALL THE TIME and I hated it. I mean…of course I wanted to be pregnant…but I didn’t want the whole world to know I was mere minutes from finding out if I had succeeded or not.

Needless to say, I always bought the 3-packs.

But – in EVERY ONE of these situations – the cashier? Never mentions your purchase. The movie rental lady isn’t going to say, “Ahhh! So I see you’re renting this XXX-rated movie Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Bone! Have you seen it before? Is it good? I was thinking about watching it myself after work tonight.” The cashier at Target doesn’t say, “Ahh…I’ve never used this hemorrhoid creme before, does it work?” The Walgreens checkout person isn’t going to comment, “Oh…that time of month, huh? Me too.”

There are just some purchases we all ignore are happening. It’s a HUMAN COURTESY. We pay our money and we leave…in silence.

But food…food is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STORY. Every cashier everywhere wants to discuss the food you’re buying. And I’m okay with that! I like to talk about new recipes I’m trying or ingredients or snacks I like. But in my case – no one ever mentions the Organic No Sugar Added Rice Pudding in my buggy cart. Nope. No cashier ever mentions the produce or the pasta. No one ever cares about the gluten-free bread or the organic soup. None of the healthy, good, sensible food gets any attention from anyone.

NO. They all want to talk about the therapy food I’m buying.

You know how it is. You’re getting groceries and you’ve had a bad freakin’ day so you throw in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Or a bag of chips. Or a pack of cookies. It’s that thing in your buggy cart that your super-ashamed of buying because you know you’re going to go home and eat it all in one sitting to try to cope with your anxiety, or your depression, or your stress. You know what that food is for…Why don’t they know that too? Why must they draw attention to that one guilt-filled purchased to check to see if you’ve had that flavor if ice cream before? Just scan it in silence like you do the tampons and the suppositories.

candyLast night was the worst. I bought – not one, but two – impulse candy bars at the checkout. I’ve had a stressful few weeks and my anxiety level is at an all-time high. I am fully aware that candy is an awful way to cope with emotional distress…BUT I DO IT ANYWAY. So I snuck those candy bars in with the few groceries I had stopped for. I knew I’d need to eat them in the car because I didn’t want my family seeing this purchase. Not because I didn’t want to share (I DID NOT WANT TO SHARE THOUGH), but because I was embarrassed about my weakness.

And the cashier stops and says, “OH…that looks so good!” when she scans my Peppermint Patty. Then she says, “These are my favorite,” when she gets to the 3-Musketeers bar. I’m just red-faced and hiding behind the card-swiper wishing she would stop drawing attention to the line behind me of my Impulse Therapy Candy purchases. I just nod/smile and don’t address the issue at hand: MY CANDY. Then she does the worst thing ever:

Ma’am…would you like me to leave this candy out for you?

Not only is she talking openly about my shame food purchase, but she’s acknowledging that it’s probably going to be eaten immediately and she’d like to help me with that by eliminating the stress of having to find which bag the candy is in when I get to the car. And while the stressed part of me was like, “YES! HAND IT OVER LADY. I’M EATING IT RIGHT HERE!” The embarrassed part of me said:

No, thanks. That’s for the kids. I told them I’d bring them home treats tonight.

Yes. Yes, I did.

I would evidently rather be seen as the type of Mom who spontaneous gives her kids terribly unhealthy candy bars, than the type of lady who eats those candy bars herself. I am fairly certain that moment for me was a Rock Bottom type of moment in terms of my Therapy Food problem. I’ve gotten so bad about medicating my anxieties with food that I’m now blaming those food purchases on my kids. I mean…that’s like taking your kid to the doctor for a cough and then drinking all of their codeine cough syrup. I AM A HORRIBLE PERSON.

So…yeah. That happened. I bought candy last night at the end of a very long and stressful day, and I blamed it on my kids. And then ate it in the 1-mile drive from the store to my house because – had they seen the candy, they would have wanted some. And there’s no way I’m letting them put that crap in their bodies.

I do have some ethical standards, you know.


  • Katy E

    Why does everything have a line of shame through it beyond the essay portion of this blog? Is it because my fat baby cracked the screen of my tablet? Or is that on purpose?

  • Kelli Oliver George

    If it makes you feel better ( it should!) the only reason they are asking if they should leave it out is that candy and gum gets smashed and lost inside bags.

    My guilt food is cheese and crackers (yes, really) and after reading THIS, I am so glad. Cheese never arouses suspicion when it is in my BUGGY*. 🙂

    *I love it when you say buggy! No need to correct.

  • Monica

    Before I read the part about you blaming the kids I was thinking, “she should just say it’s for the kids!”

  • amyd

    I had a cashier once chastise me for buying brownie mix and chocolate frosting (mind you I had other groceries too as I was doing my weekly shopping). She believed that brownies didn’t need any frosting. Well, I beg to differ…while brownies without frosting are still good, brownies with frosting are very good!

  • Kelly

    As a former cashier I can promise you that she wasn’t judging and didn’t know you weren’t buying it for your kids. We were always supposed to offer cold drinks and candy purchases to be left out. For all she knew you had kids waiting outside the store and she was saving you from digging through the bags for their treat. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We only judged the people with unruly kids in tow who purchased nothing but kool aid packets, chips, and beer. 😉

  • melaniek

    the other day I was stocking up on female purchases that a walgreens had on sale (since I have a horrible time of the month and go thru alot of products) and i PURPOSELY went to a female cashier and she not only acknowledged my tampon and pad purchase but she asked me if I needed to buy some chocolate too, as she never could get thru a period without it!! I wanted to crawl in a hole…. just ring em’ up and move on… no need to mention it! (and I was the same way with pregnancy tests… oh God, now they know I have been having lots of sex trying to get preggo, ewww gross).

  • B.A.

    I HAVE had a cashier comment on my buying a pregnancy test – it was New Year’s Eve and she said “might be an interesting new year.” Turns out I was pregnant with twins so she was more right than she knew!

    And you have helped me embrace the use of the word buggy (which I grew up with, but had bowed to societal pressure and stopped using), so yeah, no need to correct!

  • Becca

    As someone who is currently struggling to get pregnant, I can’t even tell you how many tests I’ve bought. Lately, I’ve been getting comments about it! One lady said, “I hope you get the results you are hoping for,” Sweet yes, but I almost cried right there in the middle of the store. I could feel the word vomit coming up and I quickly left before I tearfully exclaimed, “I WANT A BABY!”

    Another time I actually had a cashier ask me whether I was hoping for a positive or negative test while she was HOLDING A BABY. Her friend had stopped by the store with her new baby and the checkout lady was holding her while she discussed my pregnancy test. I can’t even imagine what my face was doing during that exchange. Horror? Shock? Disgust? No clue.

    • zoot

      See…if I see someone buying a pregnancy test I can’t help but feel sympathy for them. I would never ask about it b/c having been on one side as a teenager (PLEASE BE NEGATIVE!) and the other side as a TTC’er (PLEASE BE POSITIVE) it’s just a vulnerable moment not to ever be taken lightheartedly. WHAT IS WRONG WITH NORMAL WOMEN? 🙂

      Good luck to you!

  • Jennifer

    My worst experience was at a CVS when I needed to pick up an ovulation predictor kit and there were no female employees. I picked up a few other things and headed to the checkout. The young guy starts ringing up my stuff and when he gets to the Ovulation predictor kit he says “Someones getting lucky tonight!” I was horrified! After that I would only buy those and pregnancy tests from stores that had self checkout lanes. I did not want anyone making comments because it was really hard since we were not getting pregnant. That was 4 years ago…we are finally pregnant with out 1st child.

  • Therese

    1. I totally use “buggy” for cart as well. Don’t change!
    2. Self – checkout lanes and shopping in the town where I work (rather than where I live) have been my savior for those type of purchases.

  • LizScott

    I was buying pregnancy tests once (just once! Ha, ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa no) and the cashier asked me “What are we hoping for?” and I literally stood there mute, my brain sputtering “What? What? Don’t we, as a society, HAVE AN AGREEMENT that we DO NOT MENTION THESE THINGS? What is going ON here? WHAT????”

  • Elizabeth

    Quite some time ago, my husband and I lived in Ann Arbor where he was getting his PhD. His sister Sarah was getting her undergrad there at the same time, and she had some project to do where she needed to rent a documentary and write a paper on it. We took her to the local independent movie place around the corner from our house to find a documentary, and her TA for the class walked out of the porn room carrying a stack of seven or eight dvd’s. The look on his face when he saw his student standing there…so awesome. I still consider that to be one of the top funniest moments of my life. HA HA HA.

  • Audrey

    Once I caught myself picking up tampons and ice cream — and nothing else — on the same trip to the store, and I realized how stereotypical PMS-y it must have looked. (The ice cream wasn’t for me! I was taking it to dinner at my in-laws’ that night! I don’t even really like ice cream!) I was so relieved when the clerk didn’t mention it.

    And I’ll never forget the day I was in line at the grocery store, and a couple in front of me was paying for a pregnancy test. The man working the cash register gleefully said “Oh, I hope it’s positive!” and then the couple paused and said quietly, “Actually, we’re hoping it’s not.” It was SO AWKWARD. I felt so bad for that couple, having so much attention drawn to what should be a very private situation, no matter what outcome they were hoping for.

  • Katie

    It must have been that kind of day. I have a wonderful class at playschool this year, but it is the first week, and I was exhausted. Did you see my FB post? I dug into my carefully hoarded stash of Cadbury Creme Eggs yesterday. They are in a basket in the kitchen cabinet, only because I don’t have room for a buggy in my pantry.

  • Julia

    I was at Target a few months ago and they had a deal where if you bought 2 boxes of tampons then you got a $5 gift card. So I got in line and the guy rang everything up, and I guess at the end something popped up on the screen about giving me the $5 card. So as he gives me the card, the guy says “Oh, what do you get that for?” and scrolls back up the screen, quickly realizing it was tampons. The look on his face was priceless, and he simply says, “Oh, those.” I had such a hard time not cracking up right then and there… poor guy.

  • brenda

    I remember being in college and buying beer and condoms…nothing else. Yep you know what we were going to do. When I buy feminine products, I hide them under other stuff in my cart….because you know I’m the only one in the world that uses them and don’t want anyone else to see them. I never just buy those–I have to put other things in my cart. It’s crazy how our minds work!

  • Karly

    I kid you not, yesterday I was in Trader Joe’s and the cashier guy asked me if I was having a candy eating contest later that day. A CANDY EATING CONTEST.

    I bought 5 pounds of their peanut butter cups, because I live three hours away from TJ’s and they are my most favorite candy ever. I tried explaining that, but then I just died of shame and shut my mouth.