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Heine: I'll never let myself be picked up along with the groceries February 26, 2006 By Katherine Heine Tribune-Herald staff writer "Nice melons." "Thanks. I couldn't pass up cantaloupe for 68 cents a pound." The grocery store pickup. Many don't attempt such a risky endeavor for fear of coming across as a desperate creep, as well as the threat of rejection under fluorescent lights amid crowds of often nosy shoppers. Aisles of canned peas and window caulk are quite possibly the most unromantic atmosphere imaginable. An unenthusiastic voice interrupts the drone of elevator music to instruct Joe to housewares for a price check as fatigued soccer moms push past you in carts filled with 5-pound jugs of mayonnaise. There's a reason romantic movie sections are void of titles like, "Fondue Fondness" and " You Had Me at Pass the Sweet Relish." But on some level it makes sense to hit on someone with similar eating and shopping habits. You observe an attractive brunette reaching for a box of Honey Nut Chex, your favorite cereal, and suddenly envision the exchange of sweet nothings between each sugary bite. Or you spy a handsome devil eyeing banana peppers and get lost in conversation about their ability to flavor most any dish. And the next thing you know, you are serving a roast encrusted with the moderately spicy vegetable at your wedding reception. Wal-Mart is hoping to capitalize on the potential of the under-utilized store dating scene in the United States. The retail giant established "Singles Shopping" at 91 stores in Germany to test the popularity of the store's role as matchmaker. Each Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., singles tie red ribbons to their shopping carts to indicate to other shoppers that they are in the market for love . Stores set up "flirting points" stacked with romantic merchandise, such as candles, chocolates and wine to set the mood. Wal-Mart boasts that more than 400 people take part in the weekly rendezvous for some mindless flirting or the possibility of lasting


romance. Wal-Mart has reported at least one marriage from the program, which has spread to stores in Puerto Rico, South Korea and Great Britain. Some stores have taken their newfound role as Cupid a step further by creating singles bulletin boards, where shoppers post pictures, a few details about themselves and note when they frequent the supercenters. Customers are able to drop their phone numbers into boxes attached to each person's bulletin post. CNN Money reported that a 74-yearold man told Wal-Mart associates at a store that he was nervous to drop his card in the bulletin box of another 74-year-old, so hairdressers at the store gussied him up, took his picture and posted it on the board as well. The two elderly shoppers are now dating. I mean, honestly people, why stop at red ribbons? Why don't we all just wear giant buttons with interchangeable cards listing occupation, sexual orientation and various dating statuses, such as "single, player," "complicated " and "desperate ." First of all, for every attractive being who ventures through the aisles of Wal-Mart, there are about 20 overweight guys named Bubba dressed in overalls picking up dog chow for their pit bulls and Kix for their 12 kids from three previous marriages. I am all for one-stop shopping, but picking up bread, lunch meat and a man in one trip seems more than a bit desperate and awfully callous. Wal-Mart is not to blame. The retail pimp is going to conceive and enact any number of ploys to keep people in its stores for as long as possible. If passing out a few red ribbons is going to encourage people to peruse the aisles of toaster pastries and discount fishing poles longer than usual, then no one should be surprised the stores are implementing such programs. The shocker is that so many people have deluded themselves into thinking their local discount chain can package, stock and sell love with the same efficiency as toilet paper. In life, people seem to get out about what they put in. The ease of slapping a red bow on your cart and perusing the aisles for other red-bowed customers is appealing to anyone who's run the gamut of blind dates and bar-hopping. But reducing love to bargain shopping is not the answer. Love will never be a special on aisle 9. kheine@wacotrib.com 757-6901 (c) 2006 Cox Newspapers, Inc. - Waco Tribune-Herald

Wal-mart Singles Night  

I'll never let myself be picked up along with the groceries

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