I am standing in the supermarket aisle. Dairy produce. Artificial lighting glares down at me and the surrounding fridges hum as blinkered shoppers trundle past, pushing their metal trolleys full of brightly packaged goods.
A myriad of cheeses are trying to attract my eye: soft cheese, grated cheese, fancy cheese, goat cheese, even little mini cheeses. There is milk, there is butter, margarine, yoghurts, and cream.
‘Cheese,’ Bron reads off the scribbled shopping list in his hand.
I want the organic cheddar that is sealed in simple waxy paper. Bron wants the ‘plastic’ cheese: floppy, processed cheese slices. I’m not sure how much actual cheese they contain. A pack of ten for 99p, each slice individually sealed in its own little protective plastic cocoon. I can see myself tearing off this outer layer and reverently laying my plastic slice across the top of my freshly barbecued burger; I can see the edges of it melting and melding with my tomato sauce, and I can taste its fake cheesey goodness as I bite through the soft roll and into the hot burger. I can’t help but salivate.
I want the plastic cheese too.
But I’m not supposed to be buying plastic if I can possibly avoid it.
‘We could get this one,’ I say, holding up the organic cheddar. ‘And slice it up really thinly so that it melts properly over the burgers.’
‘Uh-huh,’ Bron looks at me.
‘Or we could grate it. That would work, wouldn’t it?’
I’m grasping at straws – even Bron knows what I really want is the plastic cheese.
‘Do you think people would really care?’ The group of friends we’ve invited to Bron’s birthday barbecue probably have quite specific expectations as to what will be provided for their eating enjoyment.
Bron is not going to commit either way. Damn. He really, really wants the plastic cheese. It is his birthday, I tell myself.
‘Ok, but we won’t ever buy it again,’ I say tossing it into our trolley as quickly as I can. I already feel guilty. But then: ‘We’d better get two packs to make sure we’ve got enough to go around.'