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Cereal Monogamy

A friend of mine told me that a friend of his told him that our local supermarket has a singles night on Monday nights. Apparently, if you’re looking to meet someone, you just walk the aisles between 9.00 and 10.30 with a bunch of bananas at the front of your trolley. I’ve asked whether it has to be a bunch of bananas and nothing else, but my friend doesn’t know. All he knows is that the bananas have to be there.

I called the supermarket, and was informed by someone called Marcy that if a singles night is happening on Monday nights, it’s a grass roots initative that’s come from shoppers, not store management. I asked Marcy if Monday night banana sales were up. She said that whilst she could obtain an hourly breakdown on sales figures for a particular item, it wasn’t information available to the general public.

I called my friend, and we agreed that Marcy had been sufficiently defensive to suggest something was up with the Monday night banana figures. Throw in the fact that Suddenly Susan is on TV at the relevant time, and everything pointed to a Monday night singles night. ‘Didn’t Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks once fall in love in a supermarket?’ I asked. ‘At least once,’ my friend agreed.

***

My first thought as I made an awkward three point turn out of the detergents aisle was that if this was singles night, the supermarket could have done a little better with the lighting. It was hard and fluorescent, and for those of us hoping to hide skin blemishes with soft, reddish underlighting, the only respite was over by the rotisserie chickens.

Research. I was here to research the match-making process and not because I expected to lift up a packet of Honey Smacks and gaze into the eyes of the woman of my dreams. Yep, I was a journalist just doing my job. And anyway, how unimpressed would the woman of my dreams be with Honey Smacks. We might not have met yet, but I knew she was much more likely to favour rolled oats, or one of those overpriced cereals endorsed by the Institute of Sport.

But there was still a world of personal hygiene products separating me from breakfast cereals over in aisle five. Right now there was a decision to be made on a bunch of bananas, and I was fooling nobody hanging around the adjacent compartment squeezing avocados. Was I in, or wasn’t I?

‘Research,’ I breathed, ‘And because I always get bananas.’

There was nobody else in fresh food, so I strolled on up to the deli with the grace and style of someone born wheeling a shopping trolley. I took number 63 and watched number 62, an elderly gentleman with an enormous beergut and no bananas, order five satay chicken sticks and some fetta cheese.

‘Can I help you sir?’ the deli attendant asked as my number flashed up.

‘Just some fetta,’ I said, ‘And some satay sticks …. like that other man’.

Number 62 might not have been part of the singles night, but his shopping list had some of the cosmopolitan flair I was looking for.

There was nobody in ‘Pet Food’, and only a couple of men in ‘Soaps and Laundry Powders’, so I stayed on the perimeter in the cool of the dairy section. Was it really possible that people came here and found love? The gentle hum of refrigerators, an elevator version of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, a wall of low fat cheese – it didn’t feel that romantic.

Up around the custards I finally saw a woman, and then up around the margarines, a woman with bananas. The bananas weren’t at the front of her trolley, but it was very possible that my friend had his facts wrong in relation to banana positioning. And given she radiated a certain fluorescent beauty and had relatively good taste in biscuits, I rolled on over.

I didn’t know where to look, so I picked up a tub of Canola and stared at that. She leaned over and picked up a tub of Mrs McGregor. Mrs McGregor? Shit, this wasn’t going to work. Who the hell bought Mrs McGregor? I stared down from the Canola to the white and black tiles at our feet, then back to the Canola. A few moments passed, then the woman put the Mrs McGregor back on the shelf and grabbed a tub of Canola.

‘Good call on the Canola,’ she said with a smile.

I looked up into her eyes. They were warm and beautiful.

‘Yeah … Canola’s good,’ I stammered. Oh God, surely I could improve on that. ‘The best.’

The woman gave me another warm smile and a nod, and set off back toward the dips. We didn’t see each other after that. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I completely mis-timed my aisle changes. I suppose it’s possible she met someone else, although I must confess that I didn’t see any more trolleys with prominently displayed bananas.

More likely it was just something that wasn’t meant to be.