Grocery Aisle Karma (GAK)

09/24/2008 By Shawn Burns

I was GAK’d.

Ever been GAK’d?

Are you confused?

Let me help.

GAK, Grocery Aisle Karma, is a noun. As I learned in my Latin class today, nouns are parts of speech. In addition to nouns there are pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. A pronoun takes the place of a noun, yes, but it is also a more general term: "we" can mean anyone, while "Backpacking Dad" can pretty much only mean me. Unless there’s another Backpacking Dad out there.

I would fight that dude.

Verbs are words. Fine, they are some kind of action word. But the word "verb" comes from the Latin word "verbum" which, as Latin words go, is probably the most self-reflective, because it just means "word."

Prepositions, I discovered, are awesome. Despite my perverse desire to end every sentence with a preposition, I finally know why prepositions are inappropriate for ending sentences with. Because prepositions don’t really do anything, apart from beginning prepositional phrases; beginning prepositional phrases. So if a preposition is at the end of a sentence it isn’t beginning a damned thing.

Adjectives are awesome. Adverbs are even more awesome. And conjunctions are great unifiers. But, hell, interjections are probably my favourite parts of speech.

So. Now that you know everything I know about English and Latin grammar…

GAK. A noun meaning "the particular kind of karma that sneaks up on someone, like me, who is insufferably superior while grocery shopping."

Erin has been jonesing to ride in one of the fancy shopping carts at the Safeway: the carts with the little car attached to the front. They are rare, and I don’t know what fantastic confluence of events occurred last week, but for whatever reason there was one in the cart return area right next to my parking space when we pulled in, so I immediately claimed it and buckled Erin inside.

She squealed and started steering her little car and beeping her horn and then I died from the cuteness of it all. (That’s what us mommy-bloggers are supposed to say about stuff like that, right? That we died from the cuteness of it all? I don’t know how a dad-blogger would describe it. Maybe "My kid did something and then I farted and threw a bunch of crap in the cart so I could get home to watch the football game while my wife made me some nachos.")

Everyone here knows I’m joking, right? Right? And that it’s all awesomely self-referential and twisted and you can’t really figure out what’s going on with it, right? Hmm. Well, now do you know?

Back to the story (because this blog, more than anything else, is about stories, no matter how often I go off and tell you something about grammar you didn’t want to know, or throw myself at children’s show hosts (who, seriously, crush on me in a major way. I mean, she’s undoubtedly reading this right now and showing her mom while she whispers "Where has he been my whole life?" and I just have to keep reminding her that I’m married and in love with my wife and also that FADKOG claimed me first. That’s just an historical fact. So, although I’m totally flattered, and I really am, it’s just never going to happen. I’m sorry. No, no. Shhh. Don’t say anything else. It’s better this way.), I think I tell stories more often than anything else) at hand: I was pushing Erin’s huge RV/Shopping Cart down the canned vegetables aisle and a familiar face approached me.

"Hi Shawn."

Beat. Beat. Beat. Crap. Who is this? She looks way familiar. I think Emily knows her. Why can’t I place her?

"Hi! How are you?"

Still no idea. No, wait. Imagine she has a toddler with her: Got it!!

See, she works with Emily and had a baby shortly after Erin was born and we knew each other through our neat little new parents center in town. But I could hardly ever remember seeing her without a kid. And as that thought struck me, another, more evil thought struck me.

"No kid today?" I asked, and then, mentally: No kid today, at the grocery store? Look at me, I’m a breaking-down-the-stereotypes DAD and I have MY kid with me at the grocery store. I’m not afraid to shop with her. Pffft. Amateur.

"No, not today," she said as she wandered past me, her child-free arms swinging as she walked.

I turned my head to watch her walk away, and like a big cosmic joke the universe opened up and dumped all over me.

Because there, coming up behind me was another RV/Shopping cart. This one also had a toddler inside steering the thing and beeping the horn so that you’d want to die of the cuteness. And mom was pushing the cart, happily strolling down the aisle and pausing for a second to go around the obstacle, me, that was taking up so much space. And strapped to her chest, sleeping as only a newborn can sleep, was my comeuppance.

I swear I heard her whisper "Amateur" as she walked by.