If You’re GONNA Buy Cheap Liquor, Don’t Do It In Ohio

Last week, I loaded up my car with every necessity imaginable, including my mother and child. We were driving to my brother’s house in the middle of nowhere so that I could attend a conference in Dayton, Ohio. We were thirty minutes from our destination when I realized that my hopes of ever finding a supermarket had now been replaced by a lot of fucking cows. “Mom,” I pleaded in desperation, “can you do a quick search on your phone and see if there are any decent grocery stores nearby?” My mother, who was slightly more familiar with the area, just laughed. And then, a few minutes later, a caustic snicker rose above the backseat, “Well, there’s always STEVE’S.”

 

It was beginning to look like a scene from Deliverance when we stumbled across a refurbished supermarket from 1950. “I haven’t seen one of those in years,” I whispered under my breath. The last time I stepped foot inside an IGA was when my brother knocked over a shopping cart, broke a dozen eggs, and blamed it on me. “Sit tight,” I winked at my daughter, “I’ll be back in a minute.” When the doors opened, I was greeted by—what appeared to be—the surviving cast of Leave It To Beaver. Everyone was smiling uncomfortably and standing with perfect posture. It was weird. And the layout was the same as it was when I was four. The aisles were narrow, the uniforms were aesthetically displeasing, and I swear to God that the guy behind the meat counter had been dead for at least twenty years.

 

As I perused the shelves in search of organic milk for my scrupulous child, I spotted Mikes Hard Cranberry Lemonade—my mother’s favorite. “Why not?” I thought, “I’m sure it will taste better than whatever my brother has on tap.” When I got back to the car, I was excited to share my investment with mom. “Check it out!” I cheered while parading the bottles in front of her, “They had cranberry!” But just then, I noticed something strange. The liquid inside appeared to be a deeper shade of pink than normal. In fact, it sort of reminded me of the Hawaiian Punch we used to drink as children. It was disgusting. As I examined the label with a sour look on my face, the bold yellow ink to the right of the word “cranberry” caught my attention: + Passion Fruit. “PLUS passion fruit? WHAT THE FUCK?!” I mouthed in the rear view mirror. “Mom, are you gonna drink this?” Again, she laughed. “Hell no!” She declared, “Take it back.” At this point, things inside my head were getting heated. I had just driven eight hours with Betty White as a copilot and was ready to call it a day, and now I was faced with the delicate task of returning cheap liquor. I clutched the pink fuel with my eager fist, slammed the car door shut and made my way over to the counter. “Hello,” I smiled, waving the rosy-colored cocktails high in the air. “I was just here and purchased these for my mother. I didn’t realize they were garnished with passion fruit, and she is never going to drink them. I was wonder…”

 

“I’m sorry,” she intruded, “all liquor sales are final.”

 

“Oh, that’s fine. I’ll just exchange them for a different flavor.”

 

“Um, we don’t do that here. Once you leave the store, we cannot refund or exchange any liquor sales.”

 

“Seriously? I was JUST here; look at the timestamp on my receipt for Christ’s sake.”

 

“I’m sorry. That’s the law.”

 

“The LAW?” *Laughs* “What is this, Mayberry? Are you like Barney Fife of the IGA world? It’s not like I’m gonna TELL anyone.”

 

“Sorry ma’am. It’s the law.”

 

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s not the law in Georgia.”

 

“Well, it’s the law here,” she demanded. “And we are not going to break it. Have a nice day.”

 

I may or may not have called her a hillbilly under my breath before storming outside. I mean, whom was she trying to impress with her law-abiding ways; the toothless trainee on register five? When I opened the car door, I was greeted by the clueless expression of an elderly skeptic. “What?” she hissed, “they wouldn’t give you a refund?”

 

“It’s against the law.”

 

“What?” she screamed, “That is bullshit. GIVE ME THAT RECEIPT!”

 

Now, I’ve known this woman a long time, and when she say’s to ‘give her that receipt,’ she means business. I watched as my mother wiggled her way out of the back seat, snatch the paper from my hand and seize the six-pack of faux liquor from the floorboard of my car. Then, without so much as a side-eye, she headed straight back toward the IGA to return the unwanted refreshments. I could not stop laughing. Curious as to what grandma had up her sleeve, my daughter chimed in and asked if she could go inside and watch. “Oh honey,” I grinned, “this is not something you should see.” It was a solid fifteen minutes before my mother resurfaced with the infamous pink potion still intact. She looked older somehow; defeated, and thoroughly pissed off. “So,” I taunted through the crack in my window, “how’d that work out for you?”

 

The story, as told by my eight-year-old daughter, goes something like this: So, grandma marched back into the store and demanded a refund, but the lady wouldn’t give her one. She said that, once you step foot outside of IGA doors, it is illegal for them to refund your money, but grandma didn’t believe her. She asked the lady if that was Ohio law or just the IGA law, and then accused her of pulling IGA rank. Then, she ordered the woman to call her manager. That’s when the lady claimed that SHE was the manager and my grandma said, “Well, then why doesn’t it say that on your name tag, BARBARA?!!!!

 

The next day was the first day of my conference and the beginning of the worst sugar hangover I have ever had in my life. Remind me never to buy cheap liquor again at the IGA in New Carlisle, Ohio. My mother is already working on a rough draft to the president.