Jenny from Chicago, Come on Down!

One of the many great perks of being job-challenged is that I get to go grocery shopping whenever I want, as opposed to at 6:30pm, when every Tom, Dick, and Harry Gainfully Employed stops at the store on his way home from work.
Unfortunately, today I learned that the only time worse than 6:30pm to grocery shop is at noon on a Wednesday, which is Senior Citizen Double Coupon Day. This is also commonly known as Argue With The Cashier About The Sale Price Of Seedless Grapes And Make Twenty People Wait In Line As You Pay The Bill In Nickels Day.
So being the tech savvy thirty-something that I am, I hopped on over to the self-checkout lanes, which are typically populated by the hippest of all shoppers who are eager to get in and out of the store, and on to their exciting lives as quickly as possible. Surprisingly, though, even the self-checkout lanes were full today, so I was stuck waiting again.
While I was standing in line, feeling my heavy basket of essentials digging into my forearm, I tried to pass the time constructively. After I unsuccessfully attempted to determine from the headlines of The Enquirer if Mary-Kate Olsen is actually anorexic or merely a cocaine addict, my eyes began to wander over to the shopping baskets of the people in line around me. I found myself analyzing the contents of their baskets, which got my wheels turning. This would make a great idea for a game show! One that would combine Americans’ passion for consumerism with our insatiable curiosity about the private lives of our neighbors!
I have decided to call the game show: Guess the Necessity! (pat. pending)
Here’s the concept: contestants get to examine three grocery baskets plucked from real live shoppers, and they then have to determine which item the shoppers actually came for, and which were just things they picked up along the way. This may not be on par with Jeopardy, but I think it’s an exciting and sexy idea that will catch on quickly among the 11:00am TV viewing crowd.
I’ll use the actual example from this afternoon to illustrate the idea:
Basket #1
• Toothpaste
• Rye bread
• Cheddar cheese
• Condoms
• Dove Promises – Milk Chocolate
Basket #2
• Tampons
• 2% milk
• Beer
• Ice-cream sandwiches
TV Guide
Basket #3
• Cat litter
• Peanut butter
• Toilet paper
• Bananas
• Tylenol Cold & Flu
Bob Barker: “All right, Jenny! You’ve had a moment to examine the contents of the three baskets. Now if she gets all three baskets correct, show her what she’ll win, Rod!”
Rod Roddy: “A solid cherry grandfather clock and a 36-piece set of flatware from Oneida!”
Me: “Ohmigosh! Ohmigosh, Bob! I’m just so excited to be here! Can I say hi to my nephews? Hi sweeties – I love you!”
Bob: “That’s lovely. So – let’s start with the first basket. Which item in Basket #1 is the necessity?”
(I look to my friends in the audience, who are making gestures I can’t quite understand. I mouth the word “condom?” and they shake their heads yes.)
Me: “Oh, this one’s not easy! I’m torn between toothpaste and condoms, but I guess I’m going to trust my friends and say condoms, Bob!”
Bob: “Is it… CONDOMS? YEEEESSSS!! You got the first one right! Nice job. Okay, moving on – how about Basket #2?”
Me: “Oh geez. I mean, I’ve been without tampons and without a TV Guide, and both are equally debilitating. I guess the rest of the items in the basket seem like things a man would want, so I think that this is a man’s basket, and I’m going to go with the TV Guide.”
Bob: “Interesting logic… and in this case you’re RIGHT AGAIN! Well, Jenny, you certainly are on a roll! Okay, let’s make it a clean sweep here, and guess the necessity in Basket #3!”
(The audience is yelling randomly: “Toilet paper! Flu! Cat litter!” I become confused.)
Me: “I’m just going to have to go with my gut on this one. My first instinct was to say cat litter.”
Bob: “Your answer is cat litter, and let’s see if your instincts are correct… ohhh, I’m so sorry, Jenny. Toilet paper was the necessity.”
(Loud groan of disappointment from the audience.)
Bob: “But, for guessing two out of the three necessities correctly, we won’t send you away empty-handed. Rod, tell her what she’s won!”
Rod: “Jenny, grab your fork because you’ve just won a year’s supply of Cheddar & Herb Rice-A-Roni. Yes, it’s Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat! And, be proud to show that smile with your lifetime supply of new Triple-Mint Polident. Remember to always choose Polident for better denture odor control!”
Me: “Thanks so much, Bob! Before I go, can I give you a kiss?”
Bob: “Of course you can. And everyone, please remember to have your pets spayed or neutered. See you next week on Guess the Necessity!
I was smiling and gazing off into space when the woman in line behind me nudged me to let me know the register was now open. She just stared curiously at my basket as I ran my items over the scanner: hairspray, cottage cheese, red licorice, lettuce, dental floss…

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