The pandemic surges on. Although I see people on the streets, and my Instagram feed is full of scenes of folks enjoying socially distanced meals at outdoor restaurants, many of us remain inside, still warding off the virus at all costs. Safe at home.

I don’t like to go into stores, so I shop online. This is not something to take lightly. Here’s the thing: if you are actually IN the store, you don’t have to know very much. You walk up to the produce section, and you see, for instance, grapes. They are in bags. You see a bag that looks promising, you reach into said bag and try a grape. Is is sweet? Seedless? Ok, then. You put that bag of grapes into your cart.

I, on the other hand, am sitting on my sofa. I put the word grapes into the grocery store search bar, and a nice photo of a cluster of grapes appears. I click “add to cart.” But then a screen pops up that asks me how many grapes do I want? A quarter pound? A half pound? Two pounds? I try to envision what a quarter pound of grapes looks like, because  grapes can’t possibly weigh very much. Confused, I decide to choose the quarter pound. When I pick up my curbside groceries and unpack them, I have a sum total of thirty five grapes.

So, the next time I shop, I remember this. I am ordering tilapia, and I am not going to be duped! When I add the fish to my cart and that little box pops up, I boldly click two pounds. Ha! I won’t be fooled again! How much tilapia did I get, you ask?

Too much tilapia.

I have wrestled with this for months. I thought I was getting a fair supply of Tylenol, and the tiny bottle in my grocery bag had a mere thirty pills. That little Bota Box of Cabernet I ordered, just for a nice Sunday pasta dinner for the two of us? It turned out to be one of those party boxes. We have been having Cabernet now for about two weeks. It is getting a little vinegary for my taste, but my husband soldiers on.

It’s a skill. It takes practice. By the time the pandemic is over, I will be able to tell you how many fluid ounces constitute just enough laundry detergent to do a reasonable amount of loads, and how much to order if you work in a prison laundry.

I will be able to advise you that you should just order the small jar of pickles, and that it is better to tell the store exactly how many apples you want, rather than estimating how many pounds of them you can actually consume in a week.

But here is my most valuable advice:

Learn what items are sold separately, and which ones come in packages of two or more.

Because I ordered one box of “lunch size” Fritos for my husband. It was from Costco, but still. At curbside, the box did look sort of big, but I didn’t worry too much until I got home to discover that my husband would be having


A word to the wise is sufficient.


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