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(photo credit: Pepe Fainberg)
'Listen, there's a really cute guy in aisle 5. He's a little too short for me, but I think he'd be perfect for you. And from what I saw in his cart, the guy seems wild about pasta. Nu, what are you waiting for?"
Trends and fads, we all know, that take off in the United States, Germany, Australia, France and Great Britain are bound to be a hit here too, sooner or later. But it's not only entertainment, technology and fast food franchises that ultimately make their way to this part of the world. Social activities and practices, too, are not infrequently adopted for local use on the premise that what has proved successful in London, Sydney and Chicago should certainly work just as well here.
Which is why those concerned over the difficulty many of our local singles are having finding their special someone have given more than a passing glance to the rather inventive and novel way of twisting fate that is going on elsewhere. Throughout the world, supermarket dating nights are becoming increasingly popular with young singles - and even some not-so-young singles. True, it may seem that flirting over sacks of laundry detergent or exchanging numbers while waiting for the butcher to call your number sounds a bit whimsical, but shopping for both dinner and a new partner - judging from the impressions of those who have already taken part in this aisle-hopping rite - introduces an intriguing fusion of romance and romaine.
The admittedly non-scientific surveys thus far conducted suggest that this is more than a basket case of an idea. Speed dating forces superficiality on its participants, and engaging a professional matchmaker almost inevitably puts marriage-minded youngsters through a frustrating and exasperating experience. Whereas randomly bumping into somebody in an informal setting like a supermarket - something like finding your beshert while looking for borscht - makes it much easier to break the ice and enhances the likelihood of finding that seemingly elusive personality you just know has to be out there. Indeed, such potentially enchanted evenings have become regularly scheduled events in many locations and numerous blogs have already been posted in which methods - those considered successful as well as those that should best be, well, left on the shelf - are discussed and debated.
Those who have participated in these outings cheerfully disagree as to the best approach. While more than a few argue that idly wandering through the aisles holds the greatest promise, a preferred and apparently proven method calls for lingering nonchalantly in some strategic location to survey who's manning - or womaning - the carts. Still others enthusiastically promote staking out the food sampling spots since they provide a very natural opportunity to stop for a few minutes and enter into conversation. It's not at all unlikely, they point out, that evaluating the merits of some new yogurt or eggplant salad can lead to bigger and better - if not tastier - things. And the checkout counter offers real possibilities, but not for novices; practiced movement and meticulous timing is often necessary to get in line right behind someone you've surreptitiously been keeping an eye on.
Encouraged by the reports floating through cyberspace, an effort to bring this concept here has been initiated by several mothers who would like to see their adult-but-not-yet-married children settle down. A number of singles e-mail groups, in addition, have begun to discuss the merits of this rather quirky but nonetheless innovative approach to dating. While there's been some understandable hesitation about how workable the idea is, there most certainly is interest and the response has been for the most part positive. A number of local supermarket chain owners have already been contacted about their willingness to play Cupid; if for no other reason than publicity - and the chimes of ringing cash registers - one suspects they'll go for it in a family-size way.
The rules of the game are relatively simple. In some cases, the supermarket provides an evening dedicated solely to those in pursuit of something other than what's customarily shoved into refrigerators or pantries. In other cases, where floor space is shared with regular customers, a sign of sorts separates the seekers from the shoppers. Those on the prowl may tie a ribbon around a shopping cart, or strategically placed cereal boxes might provide the green light. Unless you see Corn Flakes, for example, prominently placed and rooster-side up - look elsewhere.
From the feedback and analyses thus far conducted, it's clear that during these events, the contents of a basket can be as important as appearances. Dependable, stay-at-home types generally go for wholesome cereals such as bran flakes or muesli, while flighty, more spontaneous personalities prefer the colored, sugary stuff. The guy who studiously mulls over the pricey, high profile wines generally merits greater consideration than the one who throws two or three six-packs of the cheapest beer into his cart. And, needless to say, should there be a ribbon tied around a shopping cart brimming over with diapers and Bamba, well, some thinking is required.
Television, no doubt, will enthusiastically embrace this 21st-century version of The Dating Game. In addition to Srugim - the popular new series that tracks the trials and tribulations of religious singles longing to dance at their own weddings - locally produced soap operas will surely develop episodes around receiving a warm feeling by the cold cuts counter or having beautiful friendships blossom while squeezing lemons. It takes no more than a little imagination to foresee typical romantic settings - candlelit dinners, strolling violinists, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates - replaced by noshing on some chips while strolling through the aisles past candy bar wrappers that feature cows, tripping over ill-mannered workers stocking shelves.
No matter. The whole idea of having things click by the crackers or exchanging introductions while slicing bread sounds like fun. And if you're single and going to the supermarket anyway, no harm in trying to find something that's indeed worth picking up.
For more information on Supermarket Dating in Israel, please write to Tzippy at email@example.com
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