SUPERMARKET ETHNOGRAPHY


There was a fiftyish man ahead of me at the checkout  line at the supermarket and I  had a temporarily relapse into my newspaper columnist days when all that moved was copy. That was just an excuse. I love peeking into people's grocery carts. I try to guess from the contents what sort of life they might be leading. Newspaper columnists rarely refrain from such minor invasions of privacy. It is a hard habit  to kill. Anyway,. the man ahead of me was darkly handsome in an outdated, Italian pop singer way--Dean Martin's, perhaps. He had an expensive Republican haircut--think Rat Pack-- and he wore an expensive looking leather jacket. He bought, a 24-pack of imported beer. That told me that he was neither local nor poor. By and large, poor locals in that age group buy domestic. Darkly Handsome  bought, in addition, a large carton of  cottage cheese, fresh asparagus, raspberries,  green grapes and a bottle of  red Columbia Crest wine. His bill came to thirty eight dollars..  Note the red wone, which indicates that he will be having meat with it. that many of that many men of that  generation would consider  fair-to-middling wine, a steak, a baked potato and an out of season veggie  followed by out of season fruit a prelude to romance. Do I know that by experience? Certainly not. Due to an European upbringing, my own guy's idea of seductive food  does not include plain  meat and potatoes--tournedos and pommes Anna, maybe. Columbia Crest wine, jamais.   Ergo Darkly Handsome must be  an average American,  Where did I learn about the mating habits of the average fiftyish American male? I learned  them from the souurce of all wisdom, i.e,  American movies.


Il Dino Martino, Rat Packlish impish.

But where was DH's steak? Where was the potato? Where was the sour cream for the potato? What was it with the cottage cheese? If he could afford a pricey haircut and jacket why did buy Columbia Crest wine by the bottle? Iif he had serious money he would have good vintage wine stashed at home, right? Hell, he's have a personal chef . So, Darkly Handsome was an out of state, middle class guy who spent more onhair and clothes than on his prospective squeeze. Problem, the Infanta who is a truly observant person, pointed out that DH wore a wedding ring. Damn and blast.That changes everything.  The wine and beer were for him, the rest was for his wife. who had just made a New Year's resolution to go on a diet, hence the cottage cheese, fruit and veggies. Such expensive diet  fare points to  a dual  income. DH was then, an average married middle middle class, conservative American--no ear rings, no visible tats.  Columbia Crest wine probably hints at an anti-globalisation cast of mind.  Whatever he was, he stood out from the bearded, long-haired, flanel shirted, work booted guys whose shopping carts contained a big bag of dog food, domestic beer and a giant frozen pizza..  That means poor,  divorced and  committed to their buddies ( giant pizza is the clue here) and dog. I have spoken.

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