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Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tips on picking up a fresh item at supermarket Singles Night

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The "check-out" line is taking on a whole new meaning at Milwaukee's Metro Market, which hosted its first Singles Night from 10 p.m. to midnight on a recent Friday. That means that during after-hours (the store is usually closed at 10 p.m.) shoppers can pick up phone numbers along with a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.

It works like this: Singles just show up. It's free. Each person gets a number to wear and a nametag. A disc jockey will play tunes while you wander around and pretend to shop as usual while sampling chocolate-covered cherries, pastries, shrimp mini-kabobs, baked brie and sparkling wine.

If they see someone they like, they can add the opportunity to connect to their carts by telling the video date wrangler to post a message on a large video screen near the windows of the liquor store. Here you'll also receive messages from those who have a hunger to meet you.

All of this means they'll need more than a grocery list for this expedition. So we've come up with some tips to make date shopping fun.

Meat and greet

Skip the melon references and deep-six the inclination to say something about a meat market. Of course it's a meat market. Here are some opening lines to get you started:

• "Nice wheels."

• "Any idea what kind of wine goes with ahi?"

• "What is ahi?"

• "How can you tell if these are ripe?"

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Make 'em scatter

There's a way to say no to unwanted attention without actually saying no. These lines can make the unwanted disappear in a hurry:

• "Where's the pickled herring?"

• "How many boxes of extra large, instant macaroni and cheese do you have in stock? Mom and I eat that every night."

• "Which way to the pharmacy aisles? I need something for this rash."

• "Oh, darn, that's the last bottle of Beano. I need at least two."

Make an impression

If you usually grab a T-shirt out of the dirty laundry to run errands, think again. This trip requires going above and beyond:

• Women, try a cute little summer dress. Men should consider nice jeans and definitely a clean shirt.

• Forget the flip-flops (unless they're adorable) and go for heels. It's not like you're really shopping for food.

• Consider wearing something that will make you stand out. A feather boa isn't standard-issue wardrobe for the market, but it will make you identifiable.

• Don't forget the non-verbal cues that demonstrate your interest — the lingering stare over the grapes, a flirty toss of the hair in front of the fresh fish, or pouty lips in the cereal aisle.

Be smart with your cart

What you put in your cart says nearly as much about you as your smile. Load up according to the type of date you'd like to land or the image you want to project:

• Looking for a dinner date with swanky overtones? Skip the gourmet cooking aisle, but make sure you've tossed the uppity lines of canned goods into your cart. Just to be clear that you have expensive taste.

• Fresh ingredients, seasonings and specialty items along with some candles and a tablecloth indicate you may want to cook for the first date.

• Organic cereal, bottles of sports drinks and bags of lettuce say you're athletic and outdoorsy.

• Be careful: A cart full of frozen pizzas and beer screams "I live in my parents' basement." And even if kitty is out of Whiskas, tonight is not the night to load up on cat food — or Lean Cuisine.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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