Danica Patrick Has Nothing On Me...Except for Maybe She Looks Better Wearing Leather. But That Is For Sure All.

It's a rainy dreary day in Chicago today Blogstalkers.  So I thought I would write about something exciting to lighten the mood: the perks of being a wallflower owning a grocery store.

Has everyone stopped their maniacal arm flapping and anticipatory shrieking?  Good, then I shall move on.

Sidenote: I want to state for the record right now that as far as I was concerned there were absolutely no perks to being a wallflower.  I used to tell myself that the fact that boys didn't notice me just gave me more time to read and that I was happy.  But in reality I was a desperate piece of work that spent two hours learning how to tie a Windsor Knot and then volunteered to tie all of the debate boys' ties before tournaments.  Yes, THAT desperate.

Ok, so yes you're probably thinking "As much as Lauren claims to read the dictionary, she certainly does not know the definition of the word exciting."  But there's something you do not know about owning a grocery store...it almost always involves extremely tiny Race Cars, or more specifically, Go Karts.

True dat, Blogstalkers.

So I know I've mentioned briefly at some point that during the early part of my childhood my dad owned and ran a grocery store.  It was actually one of multiple stores in the Chicagoland area.  The others were owned and run by his brothers and before that his dad, my grandpa.

What I have not mentioned is that when you own a grocery store, vendors sometimes present you with awesome themed gifts around the holidays.  And when the vendors find out that you have five small children at home, the gifts get even better....or worse I guess, depending on who you are.  In this case, I was one of the children...so it all worked out in my favor.

For example:

Who needs a Barbie limo when you have this to transport Bride Barbie and Groom Ken (or in my case, Bride Barbie and Shaved-Head-Pretending-To-Be-A-Boy Groom Barbie) to and from the church on their wedding day.

With this gift Kraft earned itself a lifetime customer.
Sidenote: Here is yet another reason Ryan is a party pooper:  He adamantly refused to let me hire a cheese truck for our wedding day.  Which was reprehensible because the cheese truck was actually cheaper than a limo and probably filled with cheese.  (We actually did not rent a limo that day either, but rather took a cab from the venue to the hotel, because we are classy like that.)

Brilliant Idea: Next time I have a party I am probably going to hire a cheese truck, a cracker truck and a beer truck and just have them open the doors and back up to the park across the street.  Best party ever.  You are all invited.

Moving on.

My sisters and I also had this lovely contraption, emblazoned with the words TIDE! and DOWNY!

We almost never used this to pretend-wash clothes.  It did serve other useful purposes though.  The dryer was where we hid secret snacks, like Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies and the washer (since it actually had a removable blue basin) was excellent for filling with ice and secret bottles of Nestle Quick Chocolate Milk that we swiped from the place my dad hid them in the fridge.

And then my dad would be like "GIRLS! Where is my Nestle Quick Chocolate Milk!?"  And we would be like:

Jordan: Huh...now THAT is a stumper.
Lauren: Yeah, where on earth would one put something that needs to be kept cold?
Jordan: Maybe check the dog's crate?
Lauren: Or the washing machine maybe?

At which point my dad would just be like "I am raising the most sarcastic little girls on the planet," and retreat to the computer to play Risk.  And we would giggle and run downstairs to our playroom and drink stolen chocolate milk out of the washing machine.

The very best thing that we ever got as a result of my dad owning the store though was a Go Kart.  From Nestle because my dad's store had sold over a certain level in Nestle products (probably because of all the replacement chocolate milks my dad bought over the years.)

It was magnificent.  It looked exactly like this:

Obviously this wasn't actually something that could be operated by a small girl child.  Even though I had operated much more dangerous machinery at a much younger age. (Remember The Machine Gun?) 

So my dad was all, "YES!!! Finally a man-present.  Something that can not be ruined by mischevious little girls!" (My dad was probably only like 32 when we got the Go Kart.)

But we begged and begged for a ride and finally he gave in "JUST THIS ONCE GIRLS, OK?"

So my dad drove the tiny car around the block countless times with one of us sitting between his knees wearing a tiny helmet and screaming "FASTER DADDY!"

 Eventually the neighborhood children got wise to the fact that we owned a Go Kart (probably because my sisters and I were always like "Hey, did you know we have a Go Kart?") and when my dad would pull it out on Sunday afternoons in the summer a line of children would form literally all the way down street.  Scads of seven year olds vying for their chance to get a ride in the car that copious amounts of chocolate milk had bought.

Parents were consulted and to my dad's disappointment I'm pretty sure not one of them said no (this was the early 90's after all.)  So my dad would then spend his day chauffeuring sticky chalk-covered children around the block and back to their individual homes.

And a wonderful time was had by all.  And for some reason vendors never again bestowed upon us any more adult gifts.

And that, dear Blogstalkers, is the story of the only summer in my life when I was popular.

Any fond childhood memories to share?


  1. My dad was a prison guard, so we got things like handcuffs, and weird keys, antibiotics from the onsite pharmacy, and . . . okay, all we really got was antibiotics from the pharmacy. It was all, "Don't touch the handcuffs!" and "Don't wake your dad up because he has the graveyard shift."

    Oh, wait. Once an inmate made us a stain glass duck to hang in a window. It's kind of cool. And he got Waylon Jennings' autograph when Mr. Jennings came to visit an old buddy. And he "sat" on John Gotti when he was having surgery at the hospital. "Sat on" is just a way of saying he sat there while the mob boss slept off his anesthesia. We didn't get any mob favors, because that's a good way to get fired.

    I'm so jealous of your race car.

  2. i don't know if i'd call that 'desperate', perhaps "ingenious way to solve your boyfriendless teenage life"? that sounds about right. i was also alone/lonely as a teen and I don't think i ever tried to convince myself it was ok, i just moped. nothing sadder than a dreary teen, eh?

    and then i read about people with better lives and dreamed of sailing the high seas as a female pirate in the 1700s. ah, the good old days, probably why i still love a good romance.

  3. First of all, I would come to Chicago just to attend your Cheese Truck Party. Please don't forget to send my invitation.

    When I was 6, I had an amazing Michael Jackson sparkly glove and microphone. It made me a much better dancer and singer. I wish I still had them!

  4. I am SO JEALOUS of your washer/dryer! The go-kart? Meh. That would have required an adult. The washer dryer though? I could have taken down the pretend clothesline I hung my dress-up clothes on! Not really though, because I was playing pioneer, and they didn't have appliances. (I got in trouble for hanging out my dress up clothes because some of them were frilly slips and leotards, and my mom didn't want the neighbors thinking she was a hussy.)

    1. Also, the kid in The Perks of Being a Wallflower got more action his freshman year than I did in all of high school.

  5. I am so in for the cheese, cracker and beer truck party. Mostly the cheese,though.

    My favorite childhood memory is my dad, spinning donuts at the intersection of State Line road and River Oaks Drive. In a suburban. In the early 80s. My dad is awesome!

    Having grown up in the Chicago area, any chance you'd be willing to divulge what grocery store your family ran? You've got me curious now..

    Thanks for the blog! As always, quite enjoyable. Also? Bet those debate club boys are regretting only letting you tie their ties. Because you are AMAZING!

    Peace out.

  6. You were/are so lucky! My grandpa used to have a store, but the only perks I ever got out of it were the occasional piece of candy!

  7. I am so there for the party.

  8. It is indeed a dreary day in Chicago! I'm entertaining (distracting) myself at work by watching everyone on the streets hurry along...everyone moves faster when it's cold! And it just started snowing, so now it's actually pretty instead of simply dreary.

    Anyway, a childhood memory... one year my parents bought my brother and I a Super Nintendo game system (or whatever you call it). Then they made us go to bed early because we 'looked tired'. I woke up to the sounds of laughing and went downstairs only to find them playing our game! Parents are so sneaky like that.

  9. My dad was a chiropractor. This was back in the seventies when NO ONE knew what I chiropractor was, let alone a bunch of seven year-olds. I had a t-shirt that said "I (heart) my chiropractor" and ever kid I encountered on every occasion I wore that shirt would ask what a chiropractor was. I did a lot of PR for that field of medicine. What did I get in return? Very good posture and super tart vitamin C lozenges.

  10. That is awesome! When I was growing up my dad owned a bar...so we had a lot of toys with beer labels. My key chain collection was quite impressive, though. Full of liquor bottles and beer bottle openers. I was a real winner of a child. :)

    On a slightly related note, the summer I got popular was the summer all the kids I knew from high school turned 21 and realized that my parents owned the bar. Then all of a sudden, they knew my name.

  11. I got to be popular one summer when we got an above ground pool (think 1950's when an above ground pool was only 6 feet across and 2 feet deep). Everybody else had the ones with the blow up rings that were only 4 feet across and no more than 1 foot deep (and that was if you didn't splash. )The next year a neighbor got one that was deeper and I wasn't so popular anymore. I need to face it, I wasn't at ALL popular any more.

  12. Laurie1/30/2013

    I grew up in a very small town in Florida, like 800 people maybe. We lived on a cul de sac (oh you fancy, huh? OK it was a "dead end"). We were the last house on a street that sloped downhill. One summer our dryer broke. My Dad was quite handy what with being an electrical engineer and all and was able to fix the dryer by replacing the rotating drum inside. This left the old drum for us kids to play with. We spent the entire summer getting inside the drum at the top of the street and letting it roll all the way down the hill. There was a swamp at the end of the street and once you were rolling you couldn't stop until you rolled into the swamp and bounced off the trees. As an adult, I am amazed that 1) my parents let their kids do this and 2) so did all the neighbor parents. Also, this is the kind of white trash entertainment that gets one their own reality show on TLC these days. I always was ahead of my time.

  13. Anonymous1/30/2013

    13 st bernard puppies being born when i was 14. i love puppies. you cant stay depresed when there are puppies around. great dane puppies on live cam being born tonite


  14. that is beyond amazing. I always wanted one of those power-wheel things when I was a kid and my parents never thought to give their little princess her dreams (mostly because of the battery-explosion recalls, but whatever they were mean).

  15. OMIGAWSH - does that awesome go-kart still exist?? That's it, I've found my new calling. I'm opening a grocery store. YOU HEAR THAT, NAME BRAND FOODS?!? I WANNA GO-KART!

    In other news, as kids, my sisters and would play on the roof of the house and build "treehouses," which were actually just short planks of wood we would tie to branches that were -- no exaggeration -- 30-40 feet high, using just our jump ropes and childish vision. It's a wonder we made it to adulthood.

  16. I spent all my time reading in high school, mainly so I wouldn't have to interact with anyone. I go through phases still where I read 5-7 books a week and refuse to talk to anyone. A professor once asked me if I'd read the entire contemporary canon when I mentioned I'd read most of his obscure reading list.

    My best friend and I were going through old home videos from when we were young (we were trying to find the nativity play we'd put on when we were eight). We couldn't find that video, but found one from when she was five. The video was fairly dark, but she and another girl were playing with her dollhouse. The other girl seemed to be directing everything that happened, so I announced that the other five-year-old was incredibly bossy. Upon closer inspection, that other girl was me. We have hours of footage of videos we made.

  17. I don't know why, but I think you should write about your first sleep over you could remember as a child.

  18. I will have you know that since I have been distant (it's not you, it's me) lately, I went back and read every post that I had missed, and then I re-read some of my favorites, and then I decided in a strange bout of OCD, that I was going to re-read everything since the beginning of time or when you first started this blog, whichever happened last.

    YOU Lauren! Are completely responsible for the last 4 hours that I have been lost in the abyss of Lauren-ness or Ryan-ness or OMGIsoloveOJ-ness, whichever you prefer. Thus, I have no homework done and IT. IS. ALL. YOUR. Fault. How dare you be so engaging that I would rather read about your life than write about Classroom Behavior Management (just give them skittles) or Instructional Strategies (just give them skittles) or Command of Subject Matter (I LIKE skittles)!?!

    I really think that maybe I should be thanking you now that I think of it. You probably saved me from a night of endless, boring, repetitive homework that will actually in the long run do me no good when I end up teaching first grade and the children eat me alive because my pockets are filled with skittles and they aren't able to tell where the skittlelyness stops and I start. Seriously, these are what my nightmares are made up of.

    I once picked my nose and pulled out an extremely long and gross booger. I didn't have a tissue and it was too gross to wipe on myself, so I flicked it off of my finger. It landed on my great Aunt Myrtle's cheek and she screamed for over an hour. I never got birthday cards after that, what a horrible thing to do to a four year old....

  19. My dad so would have let me drive that as long as mom was at the store. My brother not so much he was dangerous.

  20. My roommate is an engineer and I just found out she is skilled enough to build an actual race car at her new job. I asked her if she would PLEASE build one and let me be the driver, but she said no. :[

  21. After reading this, I am totally in the mood for chocolate milk. Nestle, I hope you are reading this. I think Lauren deserves her own go cart.

  22. i also knew how to tie a wicked sweet tie, but it was partially because i liked to wear them when i dressed up for band concerts. think like avril lavigne but way less cool. also, the director had a nasty habit of making me loan my tie to whichever sad slob of a boy showed up without one of his own.

  23. My dad's a prosecuting attorney, so we got to tour the jail when I was 8. I should probably mention that we lived in a tiny town in Wyoming, so there was no one in said jail when we toured it. It was all very fun and exciting until we went in the rubber room and they showed us the back of the door where some recent crazy had literally torn off all the rubber (think tire rubber, not foam rubber) in a state of... I don't know, insanity? Then we were scared.

  24. I feel sad. I have no cool stories like that. I spent my childhood pretending to be Rainbow Brite or Jem.

    1. Oh but Jem and Rainbow Brite rocked

  25. Oh please make sure I'm on the guest list for your Cheese Party. Now if we can get the box of wine people to stop by too, ever better! Man if my mom had owned a grocery store I would've had races down the aisles with those toy cars and trucks. I will admit that cheese truck would've given Barbie & Ken room to fit the wedding party too. Cheese party for all!!

  26. I also had the shaven head Barbie pretending to be Ken.

    My dad was a truck driver who mostly hauled paper products. We always had construction paper for crafts. Sometimes we would end up with food that was damaged during shipping. We once got 17 cases of mangoes.


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