Today''s topic is not bureaucracy or Israelis. We have entered a period of relative calm. Instead, I''d like to point out something I''ve noticed while shopping for groceries.
The supermarket is an integral part of my life. I love food shopping more than shoe shopping. And because I don''t eat gluten, most foods I buy are perishables that need to be replaced quickly. I make about three mini trips to the supermarket a week and have learned to recognize my fellow shoppers as belonging to specific groups. There are the Sephardi ladies carting around sacks of potatoes and rice, the young mothers making stops in the dairy section to stock up on candy flavored yogurts, and, during finals time, the university students who trade the cart for a basket and only bother with instant coffee, milk, and pasta. The most interesting phenomenon, though, is the male representation.
We have seven categories. None of this is actually Israel-specific; it is relevant also in New York. Elsewhere too, I''m sure, but I haven''t spent enough time in supermarkets in other places.
1. The Average Bachelor: he puts bologna, potato chips and a gallon of bleach on the conveyor belt. While he''s waiting he''ll add a pack of gum. If you have to wait in line behind a Man in Supermarket, the best is the Average Bachelor because he never stops to interrogate the cashier about daily sales, or whether or not he was given correct change.
2. The Husband: his wife sent him. You know this because he''s trying to decipher the list in his hand. She wrote “apples.” He stops in the produce section, and suddenly realizes there are many different kinds of apples. He calls her, clarifies it''s Granny Smith. Crap, he has to call her again because he doesn''t know how many he needs. Next is “eggs.” For the first time in his life, the Husband realizes that eggs come in different sizes. Also, does she want liquid or dry “laundry detergent,” light or dark “brown sugar?” He is confronted by the plastics aisle and wonders if when she wrote “tupperware,” it was a punishment for some earlier misconduct. He feels he stands no chance with the obscure “wheat germ.” Would it be in the cleaning agents aisle, or baking ingredients? The Husband is the worst Man in Supermarket to get stuck behind. His cart is full, but possibly of all the wrong things. He will keep running to get last minute items, building taller and taller towers of tuna cans (a mixed variety of those packed in oil and in water, of chunk and of solid, so statistically one MUST be the correct kind) and Cola bottles on the belt. Because of all of this, the Husband is the most irritable and emasculated of the Men in Supermarket types, and is ready to snap at anyone in his way.
3. The Shabbat Guest: He''s making this trip on Friday afternoon, one hour before the supermarket closes for Shabbat. He''s been invited to a meal and the host has assigned him the low-committal task of bringing soft drinks. I grimace as I watch him grab something of the grapefruit-blueberry flavored carbonated variety. I want to just hand him a SpringTea, but I restrain myself. It''s not my place. I''ll just make an example of him in a blog.
4. The Hopeful Bachelor: His mother or female friends told him to eat more vegetables. He''s going to try. He enters the produce section and scans for things he likes. He starts bagging yellow peppers but realizes he doesn''t know how many he needs. How often does he intend to eat the yellow peppers? After a moment of deep contemplation, he breaks the situation down into a number of fundamental questions he supposes any serious shopper must answer:
What is the estimated time of preparation?
How filling is a pepper?
Will this require dips?
Hopeful Bachelors are a pain because they are as indecisive as the Husbands. The good news is that the average life span of a HP is one shopping trip. Next week they will regress back into their Average Bachelor ways.
5. The Elderly: I have only ever seen them buy coffee, bread and oil.
6. The Sephardic Middle-Aged Man: Sephardic men (the authentic ones, not second-generation) know their way around the kitchen. They are experts in the proper ratio of chickpea flour to beef in ghondi, or Persian meatballs. They have mastered and perfected the art of tadig, or the crunchy yellow stuff at the bottom of the rice pot. You will often see them accompanying their Sephardic wives around the store but don''t make the mistake of assuming their role is passive. Never underestimate the supermarket prowess of the Sephardic Man. They too know to stock the cart with cilantro by the bushel.
7. He Thinks It''s A Singles Event Man: You heard me.
Anyway, have a great week and let me know if I missed one.