Unless I have my iPod in my ears, I am liable to suffer from intense anxiety. I didn't receive my iPod until about 8 months ago and because of that I am attributing my prior severe distaste for France and all things French to not having a coping mechanism for my anxiety. It used to be that if I had to face an uncomfortable situation, I'd consume an inordinate amount of coffee. What a relief to my wallet (and my heart) that now I can stick my earbuds in and focus on the Kevin and Bean Podcast while I have to do all the things that make my skin crawl (like interact with people).
Last year, I intensely dreaded Fridays because this was the day I had to do the grocery shopping. I'd think about it all week and then subsequently bitch about it all weekend. I had to buy a LOT of groceries, which in Paris is uncommon. People will generally do a little grocery shopping every day, buying only what they need for that evening. Standing in line with a cart full of shit, I'd literally start sweating. I could feel people getting frustrated with me. Sometimes I'd even hear a comment about how many groceries I had, usually because the aged dude behind me only had a few things and was pissed he had to wait. The problem was there were 5 people behind me who collectively had less than what I had in my cart, but I wasn't going to wait all goddamn day to buy groceries because these assholes can't figure out the caisse express. Shopping on a late morning weekday meant I was surrounded by old people who apparently had schedules to keep. The kicker was that I could literally run through a cart full of stuff, load my caddie and pay within the time it takes old people to buy their broccoli and cranberry juice. It's always the same situation: After scanning said groceries, the cashier announces the amount owed. The frail patron looks startled, "What? €7.45? Oh, yes! Of course. Now where did I put that wallet? Not here... Here? No... Oh right, in my left pocket. How much? €7.45? That's not how much it was yesterday, but if you say so. I'll slowly count out my coins here..." Meanwhile, I'm eyeing my groceries and mentally calculating how quickly I can load them into the caddy and get the fuck outta Dodge.
This year is a bit different. I put in my iPod and take my time grocery shopping. I'm comparing yogurt flavors; Do I wanna try the mango? I dunno... how many calories? Not too bad. Okay, I'll try it... Whereas last year I'd bolt through the aisles, madly throwing in products and dodging lost old ladies in the candy aisle. When I get to the cashier, I can clearly see the dude behind me has ONE bottle of water and I can clearly hear him through my earbuds complaining about having to wait, but I can pretend that I can't tell he's pissed, and this makes my heart swell. I still efficiently load my caddy and pay with cash, but I no longer eat my way through a bag of Madeleines when I get home because I've just had to get through a stressful situation.
I imagine the folks at Casino (the supermarket) look at me like I'm Warren from There's Something About Mary. I DO NOT go in there without my iPod and when I do, I'm yelling about plums and smacking myself silly. Next stop down crazy lane: being able to call the number of toothpicks that have just fallen on the floor.