I Love You, Trader Joe’s

If you’re an Illinoisian or know anything about our state’s politics, you know that marriage equality will be soon up for a vote in our dear Corruption State, which may as well be Illinois’ official nickname. And it’s not just that marriage equality is becoming a more of a possibility with each passing day. It’s going to happen, or the opposition is going to have to pry that bill from Governor Pat Quinn’s cold dead hands. The man may just dress up as every single member of our House of Representatives and pass it himself, which is fine, because I always thought Pat Quinn would look fetching in heels. He’s got the legs for it.

With the possibility of being legally chained to another person on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this whole matrimony thing and whether or not it’s for me. Do I really want to listen to that much Sister Sledge? Do I drink the marriage Kool-Aid and go full-on Bridezilla or do the hippie commitment ceremony thing and adopt a bunch of Himalayan whistle children? Chicken or fish? Summer or spring? Elope or cantaloupe?* Coke or Pepsi? Britney or Christina? Arsenic or old lace?

The problem for me is that — ah, yes! — I’m still single, for 23 out of 25 years of my life, doing the chicken dance by myself. Like the timeless Cher Horowitz, I’m picky about my shoes and they only go on my feet. Thus, if I’m going to do this marriage thing, despite my nagging skepticism about the entire institution, the person has to be Man of My Dreams good, like Ryan Gosling times seven. I’m not going to just be married to anyone, like someone on The Bachelor or a Kardashian. It has to fit just so.

After running down the list of eligible people I could not TOTALLY marry in some universe, the Fringe reality where I’m much more attractive, I’ve made my decision. I thought about the Joseph Gordon-Levitts and George Clooneys, the men that all of us (queer or straight) want to marry the shit out of. I could marry JGL so hard that his eyes would pop out like Zooey Deschanel’s in every movie. (When does she blink?) But I don’t want him. It wouldn’t be right. There’s only one man for me.

Riddle time: What’s the only thing sexier than Ryan Gosling? Trader Joe’s, the sexiest place on earth. America, I have decided to marry Trader Joe.

And why shouldn’t I? Who else has stood by me all of these years and provided for me, literally through thick and thin, who didn’t judge me when I gained the Sophomore Twenty and couldn’t burn it off? Who else has nourished me back to health when I needed strength, giving me the Carrot and Orange Juice I needed, the vitamins my body was sorely lacking? Who brought me gluten-free soup lovingly catered to my stupidly specific needs and remembered how much I love squash in everything? You do, Joe. You give me everything I need and more. You are the Beyonce song I always wanted. You are my halo.

Trader Joe's
Trader Joe’s

We were made for each other, Trader Joe, and when I’m inside you, I feel like I fit there. This is where I meant to be. This is my home. I know I have to share it with other people, who think they know you like I do, who can just waltz in and overlook your best hidden sales, the little details about you that make you so special, but they’ll never love you. They don’t restock the shelves like I do, when you find out that you can get Almond Milk cheaper in another section, so you take it back to its original location. No, they just throw that Milk anywhere, because they don’t care about you.

They care about what you do for them, but what have they done for you?

I would never take advantage of you, Trader Joe, and would constantly affirm you for the warmth and love you provide me. I see those sample ladies over to the side, who aren’t giving us free things for their health. When I eat a Catfish Nugget on the house, I know that those fishy bites don’t come for free. If it’s delicious, I buy a box, and then a jug of the complimentary Apple Cider to go with it. I see the little things you do to keep me happy, even letting me eat a custom made Hummus and Falafel Wrap right in the store. You know I can’t possibly wait until I get home to demolish that thing, and you don’t care. You let me do me.

You even have extra Chicken and Pesto sandwiches ready to go, just in case I need them, and some sandwich that purports to have something to do with olives. You know I hate olives, but you’re always pushing me to try new things and expand my palates. You know how much I like to be proven wrong about things and find out I like something previously dismissed as disgusting, even a hideous mutant of nature as terrible as green olives. You’re always thinking of me. You expect only the best.

We’ll talk about your insistence that I love fresh lettuce later.

No. We need to talk about this now. IF I COULD HAVE SPINACH, JOE, WHY WOULD I EVER BUY LETTUCE? WHY WOULD I SETTLE? See, we’re having our first fight already. Just another thing we’re going through together.

You might think that we’re in the honeymoon period and that I can’t see your flaws, but I accept you — for whatever you throw my way. Is that price not correctly marked? Is the food not always as healthy and organic as it appears? You think that I just see food that tastes good and don’t think about the politics behind it? I know why I have to travel from my “diverse” neighborhood a half an hour by bus to get to you, and why you only seem to be located in “white” neighborhoods. I understand food deserts. I know what your deal is.

I’m ready for a real relationship with you, which means calling you on your bullshit and knowing that your parents (or society) made you this way. They screwed you up, but we get better when we help each other. I see the good in you and know that sometimes instead of throwing the food that has “gone bad” away, you donate it or leave your dumpsters open for garbage pickers to reduce your food waste. You’ve got some baggage, but you’re also a force for good in the world. You care.

You also have endless bags of wasabi peas and sweet potato chips. Those must also be commended. Great snack food should never go unrecognized. With offerings like these, who could stay mad?

It all seems confusing now, and we have a lot to work on. The idea of marrying you is scary, but you jump when it feels right — or why else would risk it, especially with the divorce rates being what they are? After watching our parents’ and friends’ marriages fail, why would we say, “I want it that way?” It’s because we believe that we can do better this time and we are stronger. We believe that what we have can outwit, outplay and outlast the odds. Marriage is like Survivor, but with more toule.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to take the next step and see where this impossible romance leads us. I might not know what’s in store, but it’s gotta be better than green olives. They really are disgusting.

*Note: I realize this is a corny joke, but I just had to. I apologize for nothing.TC Mark

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