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Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

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Grocery-store meet-ups are Southern treat

By Tammy Keith

This article was published November 26, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

Not long ago, I interviewed a woman who said she once lived in a city where people didn’t talk to each other in the grocery store.

That blew my mind, being a GRITS — Girl Raised in the South.

Not to disparage our Yankee friends, but this woman was living in the North at the time.

In Arkansas, we love to talk to each other in the grocery store. I’ve found out more about strangers standing in line with them at the grocery store than I know about some of my relatives.

The other night, my husband and I ran into the big grocery store to grab just a couple of items. A woman and I almost ran into each other, and I apologized. Somehow, we started talking about the boxes of crackers I was buying. She took me back down the aisle to point out her favorite crackers, and I grabbed a box on her recommendation.

My husband calls that grocery store the West Conway Community Center. You see everybody you know there. He usually goes to our neighborhood market, and when he gets home, he always reports on whom he saw.

A former mayor told me his wife hated to go to the grocery store with him because people were always cornering him to talk about some issue.

In many grocery stores, talking to each other isn’t just expected; it’s encouraged. There are lounge areas with tables, chairs and a coffee pot so you can sit and talk, or park your husband or wife there while you shop. There are arcade games at some supermarkets for the kids.

How many times have you tried to get down an aisle, and two people are stopped with their shopping carts, blocking the aisle as they catch up on life?

I’ve seen magazine articles with tips on flirting in the grocery store. It’s supposedly a great place to meet someone.

In the movie My Blue Heaven, one of the characters says to a woman: “You know, it’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen-food section. You could melt all this stuff.”

Dan Fogelberg sang about it in “Same Old Lang Syne,” a popular song the first year I was in college. “Met my old lover in the grocery store; snow was falling Christmas Eve. I stood behind her in the frozen foods, and I touched her on the sleeve.”

However, I would not recommend touching anyone in the grocery store, or you might find yourself face down in the frozen foods.

Doing an interview last week, a man mentioned that one reason he moved back to his hometown was he liked that it was small, and “people talk to each other in the grocery store.”

When I called a woman last week for a news story I’m working on, she told me she was in the grocery store with a cart full of Thanksgiving food. We talked for several minutes while she walked the aisles.

Come to think of it, I should just hang out at the grocery store every week. There’s no telling what great scoops I could get; then I could buy some ice cream.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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