Bringing Home the Gold—and the Groceries

A man I know is fond of saying that if shopping were an Olympic sport, American women would bring home the gold every time. I counter with, “If remote control operation were an Olympic sport, American men wouldn’t even let anyone else compete." But that’s another post.

Anyway, my friend may be on to something. His wife could easily qualify for the rowing, basketball or soccer teams of Olympic Shopping. Like many women, she prefers to make her shopping a team sport, something to do with friends. That’s because her husband is such a poor team player, willing only to cheer her on from the sidelines: “Let’s go! Let’s go!”

There are women who see shopping as a hobby—or maybe a respite from home-life. They move through the mall with grace and style, browsing, not necessarily buying. There’s no need to buy; they know they’ll be back. These women would be the figure skaters and the synchronized swimmers of Olympic Shopping.

Bargain shoppers are the hockey players, the boxers, and the weight lifters of Olympic Shopping. They’ll arm wrestle the clerk until he agrees to give them last week’s price. They’ll play tug-of war with another Olympic contestant over the last sale-priced bath towel. They’ll carry off a ton of kitty litter if the price is low enough—even if they have no kitty.

While this is not my best event, I might take a bronze in it. Those four little initials, BOGO (Buy One Get One Free), bring out athletic talent in me I never knew I had—even if it appears the price of the BOGO item has mysteriously doubled since the last time I purchased it.

I’m similarly affected by the phrases “two for the price of one,” “three for the price of two” or “six for the price of eight.” Somehow, when they put it like that, I get the strength to carry away as many as is allowable of whatever it is they’re selling. That explains how I once had six ten-pound-bags of Russet potatoes sprouting in my basement. Good thing they were so inexpensive. I didn’t feel bad throwing most of them away.

No one who has ever seen me on skates or skis would believe it, but my best sports would actually be the speed skating, the downhill skiing, and even the luge of Olympic Shopping. Get in, get out, be gone. That’s me.

I can pick out a complete outfit in 10 minutes, and you can tell by the way I dress. If my husband didn’t interfere, I wouldn’t even need much time to buy a car, “Is it red? I’ll take it.”

In my research, I’ve found mine to be the most dangerous of all Olympic shopping sports. Large stacks of produce and canned goods are occasionally knocked over. So are other shoppers.

This sport is especially hazardous when the participant is also an amateur in another event. I once sprinted out of the grocery store with, among many other items, a dozen cans of BOGO beets. I thought I’d gotten a great deal on beets right up until the moment I opened that first can. They were pickled. I don’t like my beets pickled.

When I was a child, I lived next door to an ice rink, and I spent many hours pretending to be an Olympic figure skater. You could say I did a lot of daydreaming with my behind on ice. But if there are no gold medals in my future, at least I have a lifetime supply of pickled beets.

(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact