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Ask Sarah – Supermarket Serendipity – pt. II

Dear Sarah,

Over the years I’ve kind of developed this theory that what pornography does to men destructively, the cute romantic comedy and romance literature, and Disney movies do to women (obviously they’re not the same in terms of decency). I mean that it creates a false sense of the norm, generates unrealistic expectations, and encourages dangerous unhealthy behavior. That said, there’s a fine line between romantic and creepy. Things on the silver screen which can take your breath away positively, would negatively take your breath away in real life, and possibly end with mace. Wild romantic gestures, whether in a relationship or to initiate one, wreak of creepy more than cute in real life.

I think about this often. One of the recurring themes is the “supermarket serendipity”. Women often dream of meeting their guy at the grocery store. When I’m grocery shopping I notice women, but it certainly seems like the most inappropriate place to hit on girls. If you strike up a conversation over things in the buggy, that’s weird. If you look like you’re hanging out there to pick up chicks it’s pathetic.

When I go to the grocery store I leave the kids at home; it’s a mini vacation, and my grocery bill is lower. I love the idea of randomly bumping into someone and meeting, but it definitely seems like poor timing. We’ve all got ice cream in our carts, and making a date is next to impossible.

Oh well, I’ll quit blabbering, but I’m curious what you think.


Well, we talked about the idea of women’s unrealistic romantic fantasies/expectations in Part 1, but today, I’m going to tackle the way more fun topic of the ACTUAL supermarket serendipity.

Yes – many women have this fantasy in their mind – that while at some public forum, a dashing single man will notice them and initiate conversation…ending in a kismet moment that they’ll look back on 3 kids and 10 happily married years later, and smile.

Is that too much to ask??    (kidding…    no, but seriously.      ok, ok – kidding.)

 

Before we launch in – let me say that YES – this can flop.  Yes, these moments can be disastrous.  I’ve heard several accounts of this going awry – women who are all-but-stalked in a grocery store where some guy follows them and then hits them up with an unbidden conversation dripping with an alarmingly high creepy factor and a suspiciously multi-level-marketing-ish tone.

That’s NOT what I’m talking about.  Those are men who are ‘hunting,’ not just noticing/looking.  A man on the prowl is different from a man who notices you’re getting a bottle of wine he loves and uses that as a springboard for authentic conversation.

What I AM talking about is a man (or woman!) being bold enough to acknowledge someone who strikes his fancy – and reading his audience so he doesn’t creep her out, but initiates a conversation that they can continue later if they’re both interested.

I carry cards with me that have my name, website and phone number on them, so that if something like this ever happens and I’m intrigued, I can give a guy one of my cards, flash him my winning smile and tell him with my equal-parts-seductive-and-genuinely-friendly eyes that I’d look forward to hearing from him.  Boom.

The problem with these public conversation start-ups is that people feel more exposed and vulnerable than they do in more culturally acceptable venues.  Men will easily sidle up to you at a bar or a club and tell your their life story, but ask a man about a ripe avocado and watch the fear take over his face.  Geez…  why is it BETTER to be ‘picked up’ at a bar than at Whole Foods?  I dare say that I’m more my true self while checking out with my quinoa, kale, and ice cream (see …if you get enough health foods, you can sneak in the junk and NO one will notice…) than 2 craft beers in at my local watering hole.  I’m the real life me – not the dolled up, tipsy version.  Plus – think of all the fuel for conversation!  At least once every couple of weeks, I’ll remark on what someone ahead of me or behind me is purchasing – man OR woman.  If I see steaks, veggies, wine and cheese, I’ll often joke, “So!  What time shall I be there for dinner?”  People always chuckle and it usually opens us up to a brief conversation.  Or I’ll ask someone who’s buying something I’ve never tried, if it’s good.  What do you have to lose?

Tell you what – here are some simple tips for lighting the match of a potential match – in the grocery store (these can be adapted for WalMart/Target, home improvement stores, boutiques, jiffy lubes, and on and on the list goes):

– DO smile and be yourself, even if that means a little stuttering or tripping over your words.  We find that way more endearing than the slurred speech you’ll give us a few hours later while ordering your stout.
– Do NOT follow a woman through the aisles.  Speak or don’t.  But, don’t stalk her until you get up your nerve.  Having a ‘tail’ isn’t romantic, it’s cause for a restraining order.
– DO start the conversation with something relevant (about what you’re buying, etc.  I’ve had men give me tips on which wines are good when they see me surveying the options.  I’d be happy for them to follow that up with, “You know… I know a great wine bar not too far from here… if you’d ever want to go grab a drink?”)
– Do NOT use a ‘line’ like you might at a bar.  “So…you come here often?” doesn’t really dazzle the way you think it will at Kroger/Jewel/Publix.  Of course we come here often.  We eat.
– DO make friendly eye-contact.  It’s the first bait you can put out to see if she’ll bite.  Does she look back and smile?  Bam!  That’s your invitation to strike up a friendly conversation.  If she rolls her eyes, well – you have your answer.
– DO read your audience.  If she’s racing through the store in a near panic, she does NOT have the time to be hit on.  If she’s exasperated with 6 children nipping at her heels…she’s not feeling sexy.  If she’s buying tampons, ice cream, St. John’s wort and the latest Cosmo…well, I’ll let that speak for itself.  But, if she’s shopping leisurely and seems in good spirits, I say you go for it.
– DO go for it!  What’s the worst that will happen?  She’ll dismiss you and move on?  Ok – well, you didn’t know her before, so you’ve lost nothing.  And perhaps you’ve gained a bit of bravery?!

 

I talk with people all the time – men and women – who don’t want to do the online dating thing because they want their love story to start off “more organically.”  But, what does that MEAN?  If online dating is too contrived, I can understand that – but, then what?  Does that mean you don’t ever take the initiative to make contact with someone in public?  Are bars ok, but Lowe’s isn’t?  Is Friday night salsa dancing acceptable, but forget saying hello at church on Sunday morning?  Or are you ONLY waiting for someone to introduce you?  You might be waiting a long time.

Women like to be wanted.  And we like when men take a risk.  If you start up conversation while waiting in line for your Diet Coke at Burger King, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Instead of waiting for life to plop someone in your lap, why not look around at who life has plopped within 30 feet!?  That way you can have it your way – right away.

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