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One of the things Gill looks forward to most when she’s home in the summer is the trip to The Supercentre. I am less enthused but play along since I know it will result in some laughs.

We had barely entered the doors before Gill revved up.

“Ma, look! A huge pile of Goldfish crackers!!” Grabbing one plump little bag and holding it close to her heart, she sighed. I seriously think I could have dragged her from the store right then and the trip would have been deemed a success.  But we continued down one of her favorite aisles, the exotic (mostly Asian) fruit section.

“Ooh, Durian!” she gushed. “And dragon fruit! And Rambutan! And Mangosteen!                      Could we have some?” I looked at her strangely. “Who ARE you? Surely not my waspish daughter raised in the suburbs of Waterloo? Whatever happened to plain, ordinary green apples and local strawberries?”

Then we found ourselves (by design, not chance, I suspect) in the potato chip aisle. Gill knows she shouldn’t eat them since they make her Crohnsy gut rumble and roar in a terrible rage, but she seems fascinated by each season’s new flavors…not unlike a Ben and Jerry’s junkie waiting for the introduction of a new taste sensation…only with more fanfare.

The entrance to the ‘supplies for school lunches’ was what really did us in. There, hanging from a display rack, were  dozens of brightly colored plastic Elmo lunch boxes –in the shape of pieces of bread. They needed no introduction since anyone born after 1960 in North America knows Elmo as well as a member of their own family, but just in case The Supercentre had cornered the one person bereft of this knowledge, the sign explained:” Carry your sandwich to kindergarten in style!”

Gill couldn’t contain herself. She took the bait…and the box. It was going to be, I could feel it in my bones, her new lovey ‘Little Dog’ or babyhood ‘Owlie’. She paused only briefly to consider that she would have to find bread that was the same shape. I pointed out that, marvel of marvels, through the world of advertising, such a thing could easily be had. It’s called Wonderbread — the very thing Gill has refused to eat for 35 years.

This was Gill’s ‘Sophie’s Choice’ moment. “You’re screwed,” I chuckled, not too unkindly.

“Oh, but you’re wrong, Ma. There is a certain brand of healthy bread made in England that IS this precise shape. Go figure!”

Reaching the checkout counter with our strange collection of items, I began to place things on the belt. The customer in front of me was wearing a fabulous blouse covered in blue birds. It was nowhere as magnificent as the top Gill sent me for Mother’s Day that is covered in huge white cockatoos, wings outspread, but still…a bold fashion statement for a non-bird freak. I complimented her on her choice. “Oh, thank you,” she said. “And what’s that delightful little Elmo item you have there? Is it for your grandchild? I’ve been looking for something cute like that for party favors for a five-year-old’s party!”

I wish. It’s for my 40-year-old daughter. “Allow me to present the only woman in the world who hods a position of at least some prestige (at a university, no less) who takes her lunch to work in an Elmo box…”

“Delighted,” she nodded.” Gill grinned happily.

We almost escaped the store when, there, lurking by the exit it stood: a gigantic display of COLOURED Goldfish crackers. Gill went apoplectic.

I urged her to get a bag. “No, Ma, that would just be over-the-top. I will exercise restraint.”

“You’re kidding, right?”