Love and Groceries

By L.E. Swenson

I was doing our weekly marketing at the local ShopRite. Since leaving the 9 to 5 shift and working 8 to 4, I can go in the early evening before the store fills up with food-crazed suburbanites needful of supplies.

As I was scanning the shelves for the next item on Sweetie’s list in the condiment aisle, amidst the orgy of sauces, I passed a woman in her late forties, early fifties. I could not help but notice her. She was finished like a freshly waxed car. She had sleek lines defined by couture clothes from Garden State Plaza’s more high-end boutiques. Her fire-engine red hair was perfectly coiffed, and she had the most even salon-tan I had ever seen. I thought, wow, a woman of such means could probably afford to have her marketing done for her. I shrugged it off, grabbed some Gulden’s spicy mustard and headed off for the dairy aisle.

I noticed the next one in the ice cream section—a brunette in almost the same get up. Perfect hair and clothes tightly wrapped around a personal trainer body and, of course, the tan. I thought it strange to see two such well-turned-out ladies in a ShopRite at 5:30 in the afternoon. Generally, the hours between 9:30 and 5:30 are the geezer hours of ShopRite. Then I realized I had seen other weirdness in the store that day. As I was loading the car with plastic (not paper) bags, I glanced around the parking lot and spotted other men like me. Middle-aged and in their slob wear—sweats, sandals and T-shirts. It was when I saw the red-haired woman leaving the store and noticed her heels were sporting 4 inches of spike that it hit me.

I had stumbled into the afternoon meeting of the ShopRite Lonely Hearts. Men and women of the ‘burbs isolated by their privilege in roomy castles going out to ShopRite in their finest and worst hoping they might find love, or at least some action, at their local ShopRite. I got out of there as fast as I could, fully fearing that someone would offer to buy me a drink.

L.E. Swenson received his bachelor’s degree in English from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo. He went on to study Theater at the New School for Social Research and received his Masters of Fine Arts in 1999. He has performed in regional theater at Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theater and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. He has written, acted, coached and stage managed in the New York area and continues to write and work in New York.

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