Personally I blame Armistead Maupin. In `Tales of the City' he introduced Mary Ann to the thrills of Social Safeway date night. `As Mary Ann watched, a blond man in a Stanford sweatshirt sauntered up to a brunette in a denim halter ...'
Tuesday 07 October 1997
"Head down the aisles to find a husband," trill the headlines. Not that it's easy, mind you. First you have to know how to decode the bachelor's basket. "A nice bottle of wine, a few hygiene products and a meal for one - go for it, girl!" encourages The Sun. Another article advises that fish fingers equates to boring in bed and that dog food is aspirational (I'm not making this up). As for single women: "One of everything. No items of personal hygiene. Expensive cat food only. No family packs," advises one briskly.
Funny, that, because every time I look at a singleton's basket there are miniature frozen pizzas in it. Personally I blame Armistead Maupin. In Tales of the City he introduced Mary Ann to the thrills of Social Safeway date night. "As Mary Ann watched, a blond man in a Stanford sweatshirt sauntered up to a brunette in a denim halter. `Uh, excuse me, but could you tell me whether it's better to use Saffola oil or Wesson oil?' The girl giggled. `For what?'" For some reason, this one scene in this one book has everyone believing it could happen to them. But the truth is that it is fiction and, even more important, it is fiction set in San Francisco. The chances of that conversation actually occurring in any part of the British Isles is zero.
Real supermarket singles nights attract the type of person who pours their heart out to radio chat shows or goes bungee-jumping off cranes. In other words, the last person you'd ever want to meet with matching trolleys of sensual vegetables. "I went to a singles night in a supermarket once and it was gruesomely embarrassing," says someone who must remain nameless. There was a huge red heart over the door, and everyone had to take half a badge and find the other half. "It reduced what is a rather subtle art into some awful party game."
Everyone (and especially people with miniature frozen pizzas in their basket) knows the truth about supermarket romance. "It is a complete and total media myth. I have never met anyone in a supermarket," declares a friend. "I do not know anyone who has ever met anyone in a supermarket, and no one I know knows anyone." This is the kind of thing that everyone says even as they apply lipstick for a trip to Tescos. ("Just in case ..."). It's too good a myth to die, and I predict that the next big ad campaign for supermarkets will feature a couple falling in love. In fact, I know just the couple. They have drunk so much Gold Blend that they are now out of a job. I can see it now: he's looking at the aspirational dog food, she's perusing the expensive cat food. They step back and - wham! - we're in trolley love again.
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