Stocking Up

I must’ve forgotten to lock my car the other night.

Living in Oakland this results in one of three outcomes:

1) Someone steals the car. This is not a risk for me as I drive a 1999 Subaru Outback with a dent along the right side that extends from the front door to the rear bumper. The interior is covered in pretzels and dessicated mini carrots, and at least one sippy cup of sour milk is lodged under a seat. If anything, car thieves leave Post-It Notes on my windshield suggesting I look into some of the new leasing deals.

2) Someone rifles through your belongings. Generally this involves stealing change, cell phone headsets, and Luna Bars or Slim Jims (depending on your dietary preferences).

3) Nothing. Whenever the car’s been left unlocked and nothing has happened I freak out a little. That Oakland is losing its edge or something. Then I get insulted. “What—my parking change is no good for you?” I yell to the homeless man picking through our recycling. “There are some perfectly good Elmo board books in here, only lightly chewed,” I bellow. “You can still read all the words!” I find myself merchandising old maps of downtown Sacramento and broken Crayon bits to anyone passing by.

I’ll get them to want to steal my stuff if it’s the last thing I do.

Well yesterday—on my birthday—after a rousing early-morning argument with my husband, I frantically shooed the running-late kids to the car where I see the contents of our glove box—insurance papers, registration, Children’s Benadryl, a box of raisins, an old work ID that has a really good photo of me, Wikki Stix, Band-Aids, hair clips, a black Sharpie, and several tampons—strewn over the front seat.

Yes, I said tampons. Do YOU keep tampons in your car?

As I scooped everything up to shove back into the glove box I was surprised to see just how many tampons I had. (While feeling slightly offended that they weren’t taken. What is WRONG with my tampons? They’ve got the easy-glide applicator! I have a variety of absorbancies! Are they not good enough for my neighborhood hoodlums?)

I ended up counting NINE emergency tampons. This, it appears, is one of those things I do. I have the thought, “I should keep a tampon in the car in case I ever need one.” Then three months later, I have the same thought. And without looking to see what’s there, I toss another one in.

As I mentioned this car is a 1999. Given our long history it’s a miracle the entire hatch back isn’t teeming with feminine products.

And as far as I can tell I’ve never once needed an emergency car tampon. And if I did, I’d probably actually forget they were there. And simply drive to a store to get some.

I’m not sure what the scenario is that I’m envisioning for their use. That we’re driving through the temperate Berkeley hills and get stuck in a snow bank? Then I start menstruating at a phenomenal, un-soppable rate? And while rationing out the small box of raisins between my cold hungry children, I suddenly experience stigmata? Thankfully I’ll have some spare light-flow tampons I can tie to my wrists to staunch the blood, freeing me up to write a life-saving emergency message on a 1998 map of the Gilroy Outlets with my black Sharpie.

See? It all MAKES SENSE.

But really, irrational thoughts about what’s needed to protect our families just comes with the territory when you’re a mom. I can assure you that before having children I never thought that having a bold-colored permanent marker in my car was likely to be the difference between my survival and dying in the parking lot of my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.

Whenever a snowstorm is predicted in Rhode Island my father calls me to report on the scene at the grocery stores. This is especially entertaining since George Bush Senior has been in a grocery store more recently than my father. Nonetheless Dad claims that the stores in town are packed with folks frantically stocking up on bread and milk. These people could be lactose intolerants who haven’t touched carbs in years, but they’re blindly compelled to purchase these things at times of imminent snowfall. It’s a natural instinct you just can’t fight.

Me? I’m the same way. But it doesn’t take a storm for me to buy two boxes of Wheat Thins EVERY TIME I GO TO THE STORE. I get agita imagining what might happen if we were to ever run out of those delightful whole grain crackers. Not that we even eat them all that much.

I also buy black beans every time I shop. And that Near East rice pilaf. “Do we already have some of this?” I wonder. But because I’m the one asking the question, I’m unsurprisingly unable to provide the answer.

So always, always, I roll on the safe side and buy more.

This habit causes Mark to bellow from our basement pantry things like, “Embargo on Cheerios!” Followed by him muttering, “For the love of God we have no less than 15 boxes of cereal here.”

Which leads to me call down the stairs, “How’re we doing on black beans?”

As far as tampons go, I feel quite certain that the supplies in our cars alone could take me through to menopause. At which point I’ll likely make regular trips to Walgreens to pick up my estrogen prescription.

But, don’t you worry. Should anything go awry when I venture three blocks to the store, I’ve got raisins, Band-Aids, Wikki Stix, and a black Sharpie marker. I am totally ready.

What do you obsessively stock up on?

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