There are certain things that always happen when I go to Trader Joe's:
My children will rush to try the sample at the snack bar. They'll proclaim it is the best thing they've ever tasted. I buy it. I make it at home. They hate it.
And, an older couple will fight. It happens every single time. A retired couple in their seventies will clog the aisle as they argue about some product—pretzels, cheese, wine, chips, pastry puffs, frozen chicken pot pies. Usually, the man is holding said product in mid-air, about to toss it into the cart while the wife verbally assaults him. If he puts that item in the cart, he is killing himself, she exclaims. Then she'll rattle off all the poisons the product contains. "It's loaded with sodium. Did you see how many grams of fat? The calories! The cholesterol! It's bad for your heart. It's bad for your liver. What about your high blood pressure? Your colon? Have you lost your mind?"
The man listens. His mouth hangs open. He can't speak. He knows that his reasoning for wanting the product will be rendered invalid by his wife. If he did speak, he'd say, but I like it! He thinks better of such an outburst. How does liking cheese puffs compete with her arsenal of reasons why cheese puffs smack of death.
Why does this happen? The answer is simple: Men and women should never shop together. Period.
When it comes to grocery shopping, men are from Mars and women are from an alternate universe. Men head to the grocery store, list in hand. They grab a cart and zoom into the store, intent on setting a world record for fastest trip. They are a dizzying blur. It would never dawn on most men to grab the circular or take coupons.
Women, on the other hand, peruse the aisles as if walking through a food museum. Women know what they need, but they have to see what they want. And they want to get it at a good price. They'll look at labels. They'll compare brands. Some will even Google competing grocery stores to see if they can get it cheaper. For a man, a trip to the grocery store is a burden. For a woman, it's an excursion.
If you merge a burden with an excursion, you wind up with cheese puffs as a controlled substance.
So if a couple is looking for meaningful ways to spend quality time, organize your sock drawers, alphabetize your spices, but stay away from the minefield that is your neighborhood grocery store.
Stay out of furniture stores as well. We recently needed a small table. I made the mistake of bringing my husband along. He strode into that store like it was a boxing ring. In under 90 seconds, he circumnavigated the table area, declared it void of the one we sought and was back in the parking lot. The kids never even had a chance to try out fun-looking chairs. A vase that caught my eye remains a peripheral memory - I got no closer than three car lengths. I'm going back tomorrow. Solo.