Eva Bradley: Caught in web of grocery shopping

 Women shop. With the exception, perhaps, of procreation of the species, it is what we were born for. So what's with online shopping?

In form and function it has both pros and cons.

And how these are viewed depends entirely upon your gender. Where women might miss the hours spent trailing in a semi-lucid state through swathes of sunfrocks on sale, men might reasonably be expected to consider this downside a significant plus.

I've dipped my toes into the virtual mall a number of times in recent years, ordering everything from makeup and clothing to camera gear and even a batch of plastic penis straws when planning a friend's hen's night.

Sometimes you win (the straws were a hit) and sometimes you loose (the playsuit modelled online by the coltish 16-year-old model looked somewhat different when pulled out of the box and on to my own frame a few days later).

Generally, my online purchases have been impulse ones, picked up for a song and despite the best of intentions to return them for a better size or even a refund, they clutter up my house and get tripped over just often enough to remind me that my credit card and keyboard should not be on speaking terms.

Experience has taught me that nothing beats a good old-fashioned wander around the streets, where eyes can graze, fingers can fondle and noses can sniff ... as long as none of these things happen in a supermarket.

I don't think I am alone in saying that food shopping is about as pleasurable as waking up from one of those nasty dreams where you're walking around town and realise you've forgotten to put any clothes on.

It is always with great reluctance that I pull up at the supermarket and hitch myself to a trolley in preparation for 25 minutes of torture.

I'm not sure if it's the boredom of always putting the same items into the cart, the agony of walking past all the things I'd like to be putting in there but won't, or the frustration of paying for food to refuel my body when I'd far rather be spending the same amount decorating it with designer clothes and baubles.

Food shopping is one of those things that just has to be done. Sort of.

While I was having a wee moan about this topic at work, my colleague suggested I ought to try online food shopping to avoid going there in person. It would save me time.

Cue: two hours spent procrastinating on the Countdown website, tossing digital Digestives and online Oreos into my virtual cart with reckless abandon.

Instead of racing through the real life aisles with blinkers on to everything but the very small number of items I always get, I found myself browsing through hundreds of pages of groceries and being seduced by at least half of them.

Still, despite the time invested, I got a curious sense of satisfaction knowing that the moment I confirmed my payment, some poor bugger was then being deployed into the no-mans-land of aisles one through ten, going red with rage because the brand of Colgate I wanted wasn't in stock and the potatoes I'd asked for were for mashing not roasting.

In the end the girl gave up and called me to check I was cool with her corporate decision to replace Agria with Desiree.

To be honest, if it meant she had to do my dirty work instead of me, I'd be happy to have had 3kg of Brussels sprouts. He who pushes the trolley holdeth the power. Respect, bro.

After work I drove to the supermarket and collected my order.

I felt like a celebrity ... one with a dirty little secret. In one of the bags was (if the online shopper had done her job right) a contraband bag of MacIntosh toffees.

The curse of dentists and dieters the world over and (once the frozens were unpacked), my invited guest at a dinner for two in bed with a book.

Sure beats shopping.

Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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