Recently, a friend of mine told me that the real places to meet people are church and the grocery store. I’ll be honest; I scoffed. Mostly because, for many of us, not only is a drop of hooch helpful in meeting members of the opposite sex, it’s downright necessary. And as far as I know -- granted I haven’t been to services in a while -- alcohol is still frowned upon during mass and makes maneuvering a shopping cart rather difficult. So I struck church and grocery store off my list. (Not that grocery store was ever on my list. I’m a loiterer by nature, frugal by necessity, and haven’t had to really do any math for the last five years. You should see me at the grocery store, I try to do all this multiplication and division in my head to determine which can of corn gives me the most vegetable for my buck. I’m talking, converting ounces to pounds, taking in the type and weight of the packaging, and in general just making a nuisance of myself. (I’d be embarrassed to be seen doing this with a calculator so it takes a really long time) But then the Saturday after the meeting people at church and the grocery discussion, I needed to pick up a few essentials, mostly every type of cleaning supply imaginable (My apartment has probably been cleaned, oh, once since I moved in ... you don’t want to know how long ago). I had just been to the gym and was going to quickly pop in and get the items. I don’t know what it was, whether it was my tank-top or the post workout glow (I know, that’s gross, but I hadn’t showered) or simply just Saturday afternoon, but suddenly there I was by the laundry detergent and an older guy walked behind me and said hello. I didn’t think he was talking to me, so I didn’t respond. About five minutes later, as I had moved on and was examining Murphy’s Oil Soap as a cleaning alternative, he came back. Now I’ll be honest, he was probably 60, but he said hello and we talked about Murphy’s Oil soap and then his friend came over and we talked about Murphy’s Oil Soap some more (it really wasn’t that long of a conversation because there isn’t that much you can really say about Murphy’s Oil Soap). After I had compiled the rest of my cleaning supplies, I got in line for the cashier. She seemed to be having some difficulty making change, and as we waited, the guy in line behind me (a different guy separate of the two others) caught my eye and said, “What’s going on?” “Oh, I don’t know,” I said, “I thinks she’s getting change,” and I gestured with a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke at the cashier. In light of all the conversation about hitting it off at the supermarket, I wondered if he was trying to pick me up or just making conversation. And then he said -- and I swear I am not making this up – “So, do you come here often?” Is this how it works? Is this how supermarket love matches are made? The same lines used in bars but in a more benign and less alcohol-induced way? I thought later about investigating a la Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, but I decided I didn’t want to. What would I say? “Do you ever meet people in the grocery?” What if they thought I was hitting on them? And what if I wasn’t?(By the way, it’s a sad realization that I’m so not Sex in the City. Those girls are so glam, and they can pick up guys wherever they go, but I’m just not like that). But it turns out I didn’t have to investigate. Not in the ask questions reporter way at any rate. No, due to a small but perhaps not unforeseeable financial squibble, I’ve not been able to buy in bulk like usual (the product of a big family) but have had to buy my goods day-by-day, on a sort of triage basis. And in this, I’ve had considerable luck. For instance, in a trip to get flying insect spray and ice cream (both of which I rationalized as necessary expenditures), I happened on a very nice older gentleman in the frozen food aisle. He said, “Hello, there, girlie,” and then introduced me to his wife (Swingers, you ask?), who was 101 years old (Not so much). He himself was a spry young thing of 72. I helped them find the walnut ice cream they wanted. Then, just today, on a trip to get bread (also a necessary expenditure), a very nice young man told me I had pretty toenails. It’s not Sex in the City, but at least it’s something. ( Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. You’re invited to come along.)

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