Saturday we packed all the young Darwins in the van and went on a great quest for a homeopathic remedy.
Don't blame us too much. My midwife recommended a certain homeopathic treatment for a specific pregnancy-related ailment. For the sake of the men in our audience, I won't elaborate, except to say that it involves painful veins in places where veins should definitely not be painful, and that if nothing ameliorates the condition soon, I'll be on effective bed rest (prescribed or no) because I simply won't be able to stand. There are ways of coping with this situation, such as wearing an expensive and appalling support garment, but the midwife said that homeopathic treatment could clear it up. Or not. It will either work or it won't, but it's times less expensive and appalling than support garments. So, we ventured into Austin.
I had of course checked my local grocery, which is not in Austin but has a respectable organic section. And it carried a small selection of homeopathic stuff -- but not my particular concoction. Thus it was that we loaded up the family and approached Whole Paycheck with trepidation. Trepidation, I say, not because of taking four children into a store with tiny aisles and teetering pyramids of sparkling produce, but because of the abominable parking lot of Whole Paycheck. The more "green" a store is, the more that shopping there embodies some kind of lifestyle, the worse the parking will be. All the eco-conscious people with their SUVS or silly clown cars jockeying for the limited amount of spaces. These spaces are laid out in some whimsical design which may resemble yin and yang from overhead, but from the ground recalls nothing so much as the Circle of the Lustful.
The lousy thing about shopping at these lifestyle stores is that everyone seems to dress up just to pick up a quart of sustainable borscht and some organic lemonade. Everyone but us was wearing their crunchy best. This is entirely my fault. I was the fool who said in her heart that I would not need my nice pregnancy clothes for a long time -- could not wait to clear them out of my house, in fact -- and so, having failed to recover several key wardrobe pieces from various formerly pregnant friends, I now subsist on what local castoffs have managed to find their way to my house. On this day I wore the world's least flattering pregnancy khakis and a bright green pregnancy shirt that was not fitted enough and fell just to my hips, which are undoubtedly the widest spot on my body, even including my 21-week belly measured front to back. Dowdy doesn't even start to describe it. Fortunately, the kids are cute.
Whole Paycheck had a wider homeopathic section, but not large enough to include my specific stuff in the specific dose. The midwife had specifically recommended 6c or 12c, but mine was only available in 30c. I asked the employee in charge of the section if 30c could be substituted in any form, and he gave me a long answer that boiled down to: Don't know, it's complicated
HOMEOPATHY DIGRESSION: Having consulted Dr. Wikipedia Saturday evening, I am now more informed than a Whole Paycheck employee. Here's how homeopathy works. You take whatever substance you want to turn into a remedy and dilute it, one part of substance to 100 parts water or sugar or what have you. You then whap it around a few times and dilute that mixture with 100 more parts of water or sugar. Keep it up as long as you like -- apparently homeopathic people think that the more diluted your substance is, the more potent it is. (So 6c has been diluted in this fashion six times, and 30c means the process was repeated 30 times.) Not really that complicated. Wikipedia was suitably skeptical on this point, and I have to say that I'm with the good doctor on this one, but frankly, if it has a placebo effect I'm happy to take it, as long as my condition clears up. Just to be scientific, though, I'm going to run a three-day course of treatment (five homeopathic sugar pills under the tongue three times a day for three days, then three off) before I try anything else, just to see what happens.
It was time to venture closer to Austin, so we took our four kids and made for Crunchy Market. We like Crunchy Market better than Whole Paycheck because the parking isn't as byzantine. And it has a larger homeopathy section. This larger section did not have what I was looking for. As I stared in bubbling frustration at the shelf of pretty blue useless vials, the seven-year-old bit the four-year-old and we had to drag everyone out of the store. Still, at that point we were closer to Austin Proper than to home, so we crunched our way into downtown Austin to the flagship Whole Paycheck, which takes up a whole city block.
This monstrous entity has a parking structure which in its pain and complexity is a foretaste of the City of Dis. We witnessed cars stuffed to the gills with reusable shopping bags circling through the labyrinthine garage again and again, filling the air with rage and exhaust. The children selected this time to be fairly well behaved, if not perfect. Fending our way through the claustrophobic aisles, we heard only minimal complaints about how everyone was hungry and had to go to the bathroom, and who could blame them? I was hungry and had to go to the bathroom myself. But first things first. I confronted the mammoth display of blue vials and the angels sang as I found the damn dilution of the damnable substance sitting innocently on the shelf. "Where have you been all my life?" it asked. "I've just been here, waiting for you." "Shut the f$*@ up," I advised the bottle (silently, of course) as I clutched it in my hot hand.
Knowing that we would arrive home after the appointed dinner hour, we decided to pick up a few things for dinner while we were at a store. This wasn't too hard to do, because fully half of Whole Paycheck is a restaurant. Prepared soups, sandwiches, salads, desserts, rotisserie chickens, taco bars, gelato stations, bakeries, and the like take up the perimeter of store, forcing the aisles of groceries and supplies to huddle close together for warmth and safety. Clearly people are not actually expected to do a week's shopping at Whole Paycheck, and woe betide them if they do, if the prices on the supplies we picked up to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at home are any indication. Still, I can't complain -- the seafood jambalaya we brought home was excellent. And contrary to all expectation, everyone who saw the kids smiled at us.