Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Joel goes to Singles Night at Whole Foods

With four of five directors out of the office on business this week, the rest of the Farm Aid staff took it upon itself to make an executive decision about whom to send to “Singles Night” at a local Whole Foods store as part of our office quest to connect with more food and farm minded folk.

Guess who drew the assignment? I’m not sure if it’s because, with Ted and Mark away, I was the only man left in the office, or because of the persistent rumor (unsubstantiated) that I am still single, but I got “elected.” I negotiated a deal with them: I would get to leave the office early to prepare (read: primp) for the event. So I went to the gym to work off whatever excesses remained from the weekend. Then I went home to figure out what to wear. Among other hard choices, I finally decided on a leather jacket. I knew it might reduce my chances with vegans and vegetarians, but would perhaps attract the organic, grass-fed beef lovers. Not that I planned simply to hover around the meat counter.

At the entrance to Whole Foods, I found several people gathered around a table beside a hand-written “Singles Night” sign, so I took a deep breath and joined them. It seems this was hetero-singles night, since the staff were randomly assigning individual males and females to pair up for a scavenger hunt in which couples would compete for a prize. Sent off on the hunt, I made the mistake of suggesting to my partner that we split up in order to gather items more quickly. She looked at me kind of funny before striding off toward the produce section. I guess I was focused on the wrong prize. Strike one.

The list included a specific kind of wine, so I made for the wine section, passing by a musician singing and strumming her guitar--she was pretty cute, so I made a mental note to myself: “Return to hear music.” In the wine section, I dallied a bit, mainly because of the free wine samples, but I eventually found the right wine. Then I followed another scavenger hunt couple around for a while--a stern-looking blonde woman and a tall, goateed, pony-tailed man in a suit coat thinking they might lead me to the items on my list. And they did, only I picked up the wrong kind of bread, thinking the clue on my list to “find a bread with a romantic-sounding name” must be “When Pigs Fly.”

I quickly found my other items and hurried back to the scavenger hunt table to meet my partner, pausing only at the musician’s station, but all I found there was a lonely microphone. Evidently, she was now on break. Strike two.

But I found my partner and we delivered our goods, only to discover that we’d come in third place. We parted amicably. I suppose I should have asked her name, but she’d picked up the wrong kind of cheese, so I really didn’t see us as lifelong partners.

Undeterred, I returned to sample more wine, where singles seemed to be congregating. Then a stroke of luck: I was approached by a woman with a camera: “May I take your photo?” But of course. Turns out she was a Whole Foods associate documenting Singles Night, but not, so it seemed, single. Strike three.

Nonetheless, at the check out counter--yes, I did do some actually shopping--the clerk glanced at me knowingly when I told her how fun Singles Night had been. “What would you like?” she asked, smiling, and I thought seriously about telling her what I wanted. But then she said: “Paper or plastic?”

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