In romantic comedies there is often a scene where ‘boy sees girl’ at a supermarket checkout line or from behind a stack of breakfast cereal. They are either avoiding each other, intentionally bumping into one another or admiring each other from afar. This idea that single people mingle and fall in love amid the aisles of fruits and vegetables is one that I thought only possible in movie land, but after very little persuading, Adele and I decided to venture to our nearest large supermarket to test the theory for ourselves.
We were practical in our venture. There was absolutely no point in loitering around the shopping centre at 9am on a Monday morning because the types of men we wanted to attract would most probably be at work. Hooking up with fraught young mothers and little old ladies was not what we were after, so Adele and I decided that early on a Saturday evening would be the most likely time to run into some fun loving, available bachelors. We had visions of them collecting groceries for a meal with friends or stocking up on snacks and drinks for a party. This would be happy hour at the local grocery store, I was sure of it.
‘I think our kind of men will be in the alcohol aisle…’
I was only half joking. I suspected that picking the right department in the supermarket would also be key to landing a suitable date. The pharmacy was to be avoided at all costs. Nobody wants to say they met over a tube of hemorrhoid cream or while picking up a pregnancy testing kit. Women’s clothing was out too, for reasons that should be very apparent. Frozen foods was a possibility; single men purchasing meals-for-one for a lonely evening in, as was the aisle dedicated to entertainment. What self respecting single man doesn’t indulge in the odd DVD or console game. We also decided to bypass the shelves containing baby products. I have no problem dating a man with children, but the likelihood of meeting a struggling single new father amid the nappies and wet wipes was unlikely. We were more likely to bump into fraught daddies running errands for stressed out mummies who were stuck at home with a screaming toddler. I appreciate that a man in that situation is vulnerable to a little female attention, but neither Adele nor I are those kind of women. Plus, our nappy changing days are definitely over. Fresh flowers was also a no go area. Sure, we could meet a fabulous man lovingly buying flowers for a sick Aunt, but knowing Adele and I, we were more likely to meet a player making a desperate plea for forgiveness to a wronged woman. Baked goods, cereals, fresh produce, meat and fish, toiletries, magazines and newspapers; all these divisions of the supermarket seemed to be as good as any when trying to find single men. At 8pm, Adele and I entered the hunting ground…
OK, thats not exactly what happened. I’d written all of that before Adele and I were meant to go hunting in a local supermarket, but when the day came she was unfortunately struck down with the mother of all migraines and I had become one with my sofa and a tub of Ben and Jerrys, so our venture was called off. This is not to say I don’t stand by my theories regarding suitable loitering times and aisle selections. It came as a surprise to me when later in the week and completely by chance, I actually met a man in the supermarket. It was near the frozen roast potatoes, or rather, lack of. Please, dear reader, forgive my manipulation of the truth and let me explain…
I had invited Blue and her daughter to join my son and I for dinner one evening. Inviting friends over for meals has become one of the joys of my new apartment; it is definitely more family friendly that the former party house I occupied. Anyway, anyone who has ever cooked for children knows they can be fussy eaters, so instead of preparing my favourite Tuscan sea bass or letting my son make his extra spicy fajitas, I settled on the great British roast dinner. It had been a busy day. Work and household chores had swallowed up most of the hours in my day and with Blue’s arrival imminent I was still nowhere near to having the vegetables prepared. I decided that working mothers are allowed to cheat in the kitchen every now and then, so headed to my local supermarket to pick up some frozen roast potatoes. They were never going to be as good as my own, but Aunt Bessie (popular British brand of convenience foods) is a well meaning substitute.
Grabbing a basket and heading straight to the freezer aisle, I was aware of the ticking clock and long list of preparations ahead of me. Blue was bringing dessert, but I needed to purchase wine and wine glasses, given that I’d accidentally-on-purpose smashed all of mine during a moving-house-tantrum. I also needed runner beans, broccoli, chicken fillets and stuffing mix and needed to pop by the tobacco kiosk for my nicotine fix. I was one of many frantic and stressed women running around the store that day, but possibly the only one who was on the border of having a complete nervous breakdown upon discovering the store had run out of frozen potatoes. I mean, completely run out. No big brands, no own brands, not a convenient spud in sight. This is Britain! We NEVER run out of roast dinner ingredients, even the convenient kind! I was mortified and as I let the panic sweep over me in increasingly violent waves, I noticed I was not the only person staring into the abyss of an empty freezer.
Stood to my right was a pale skinned gentleman with jet black hair. He was dressed for the office in a fitted grey suit with white shirt and pastel blue tie and looked to be in his late twenties to early thirties. I was attracted to him in the way teenagers lust after fictional vampires…he was a little eerie, a little unusual, but undoubtedly attractive. I followed his eyes as they scanned the empty freezer. He wanted potatoes too. I never thought root vegetables would be my way in with a man, but life throws up some weird opportunities at the strangest of times, so I took it and promised myself I would thank life for it’s sense of humour later.
Spudman (Yes, thats what we’re calling him, deal with it!) eyed up the thick cut chips then diverted his gaze to the potato croquettes. I knew what he was thinking for I had thought the same, they were a poor substitute for roasties.
‘No potatoes, right?’ I said, looking at him with the sincerest of solidarity
‘I know!’ He laughed, ‘Whats that about?’
‘Guess I’ve got some peeling to do when I get home,’ I smiled.
Yes, our first interation was this lame, but us Brits are good at talking about the inane, like the weather and bus timetables and, in this case, frozen vegetables. I made plans in my head to postpone dinner with Blue by an hour and make my roast potatoes from scratch, Spudman opted for chips.
‘Your meal is going to be more palatable than mine, ‘ Spudman responded, ‘I hope your husband appreciates it’.
Smooth move Spudman. I’m not wearing a wedding ring, you know I’m not married but you’re just checking to make sure. Let me reward your curiosity and ballsy approach to discovering my singledom,
‘Actually, I’m cooking for my son. Apparently teenagers need feeding, a lot!’
I wasn’t going to explain about cooking for a friend and her daughter, in case he perceived that as me being a lesbian. There was no room for mixed messages here. The window for using shop delivery delays as an excuse to chat someone up is very limited. Spudman seemed to know this too,
‘Look, I’m going to head to the other store across the road, do you want me to give you a call if they have any?’
Nicely played Spudman. A little pathetic given that I have two working legs and could have visited aforementioned shop myself, but I let him take the win and dictated my name and number as he tapped it into his phone.
An hour later, I received a text message,
‘No spuds there either. Hope your dinner goes well. I was wondering if I could take you for a drink sometime?’
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I eventually landed a date in a supermarket. Catching a man’s eye over the lack of potatoes in the frozen food aisle. I will be sure to tell you all how it goes with Spudman in the near future.