20 gallons of milk

March 6, 1995

I would never embarrass my teenagers, but it takes so little to do it.

Things I have done for years with no embarrassment are unacceptable when they are around.

Take the summer day I walked into the grocery store to pick up a few items and noticed that skimmed milk was on sale.
For years, when I have seen low fat or skimmed milk at a good price, I have purchased 15 or 20 gallons. My children helped put the milk in the freezer for later use. They have struggled to yank a gallon lose from the rest after the jugs have been put too close together before freezing.
As long as I remember to have one gallon thawing while another is being used, I save money and a lot of last minute trips to the grocery store. However my family is rarely with me when I buy that much milk.

Recently one was with me, a teenager to whom low prices are not as important as appearance.
As I began loading twenty gallons into the cart, the teenager gave a sigh of exasperation and moved away from me in embarrassment. “Ooh, Mom, how embarrassing.” I squeezed gallon number ten beside number eight and nine and smiled, “Oh, no, it isn’t. Actually it is kind of fun.”

For my words of encouragement, I received this huge look of doubt as I piled a second layer on top of the fist.
“No, really. Just watch the people’s faces as we go by them.” I found a place for gallon number twenty of moo juice and began wrestling the car down the aisle.

The teenager followed at a distance that said, “I am not related to that woman.” In about a minute, however, the teen moved up close to me, hand covering the biggest grin ever.
“Mom, everyone you walk by stares at the milk without looking where they are going. One lady almost ran into someone, she was so busy looking at our cart.” Maneuvering the 160 fluid pounds of milk ahead of me, I made my way down the aisle to pick up five pounds of sugar.

A couple stopped beside me as I reached for the sugar, looked at my car, “What are you buying so much milk for?”
“It’s a good price and low fat milk will keep in the freezer for a long time.”


I smiled confidently, “I’ve been doing it for years.”
I manipulated the overloaded cart through the produce department and picked up a quart of strawberries and headed for the check-out.

The lady at the next check-out stared at my cart for a while. I guess she added up milk, sugar and strawberries before she asked, “You’re making strawberry ice cream tonight?
“No. I freeze the milk to drink later. The strawberries are for short cake.”

My teen and I went to the car laughing. After the milk was in the freezer, I didn’t think anything more about the incident. However, the next time we were in the grocery store, as we passed the dairy section,

I heard an unembarrassed  mischievous whisper, “let’s put a lot of milk in the cart and watch the people’s faces.”