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Who Needs a Kwik E Mart?

A while ago I was talking to my friend, Cara, about “the game.” Apparently she’s really into this guy and has no idea if he’s into her. She’s not alone. I have many friends with the same problem. I’ve had the same problem. It’s just dumb.Why do people play this game? I have a few theories on this, and being somewhat removed from the game myself these days, I thought I’d write a little about it. But then Megan took me to the Kwik E Mart and I got distracted. She’s the bestest ever. Seriously. Best. Evar. But there will be more on her in a future post, I assure you.

After this brief expedition into the land of my greatest dreams which, unbeknownst to me, happened to be on 42nd St, I fulfilled my civic duty by exposing Megan to the comedic splendor that is the Kwik E Mart episode of The Simpsons, aptly entitled, “Homer and Apu.” It was during this amazing display of responsible citizenry that it occurred to me, “Homer and Apu” is an exact microcosm of the very game whose subject I had been discussing just days prior. This microcosm is the subject to which I will address the remainder of this little foray into writing to which you have just been subjected heretofore quid pro quo etcetera.

The episode starts off in the Kwik E Mart, as many episodes do, and some random customer is yelling at Apu for his outrageous prices. Sufficiently outraged, the customer then storms out of the store, smashing a Twinkie and throwing it on the ground on his way out. Apu trails after him, picks up the Twinkie, and shakes it out as he delivers the classic line, “Silly customer, you cannot hurt a Twinkie,” in typical Apu fashion. Apu then goes on to scratch out the expiration date on a package of deli meat and put it on the clearance rack.

Enter Homer. He goes straight for the cheap meat, eats it on the spot, and becomes deathly ill. But that doesn’t stop our friend Homer, he comes back to give Apu a piece of his mind. Apu counters with a bucket of free shrimp, also expired. Homer graciously accepts and graciously ends up back in the Hospital. This cycle continues for a while until Homer finally ends up on the couch in pain watching Kent Brockman expose some crook on the news. Lisa tells Homer to call Kent Brockman. He quickly finds himself in a sting operation involving an oversized novelty hat.

Apu is promptly exposed following standard Kwik E Mart protocol as he picks up a hot dog he dropped on the ground and places it directly back on the hot dog rolling rack (Let me pause for just a minute to say that the hot dog rolling rack is quite possibly one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind, right behind the “continuously operational high volume frozen confection dispensing machine”, seriously I would get a hot dog rolling rack installed in my house if it was fiscally attainable). This seemingly harmless act is then plastered all over the news and Apu is promptly let go from his position in the prestigious Kwik E Mart establishment.

Apu quickly sees the err of his ways and goes to Homer to make things right. In one of the greatest moments in musical history, Apu then breaks into song proclaiming his liberation from the Kwik E Mart. The song ends with Apu on the roof and Homer and family eavesdropping as Apu delivers the iconic final line, “Who needs a Kwik E Mart? … I doooooo.” As Homer so aptly puts it, “He lied to us through song!” The rest of the episode is spent with Homer misguidedly trying to help Apu regain his status as the local Kwik E Mart representative.

This episode, my friends, is the dating game in a nutshell. It starts off with a little harmless flirting, a little give and take, as Homer and Apu go back and forth strengthening their bond as customer and retailer. This advancing relationship, however, is quickly becoming a harmful one, but there is nothing they can do about it. They are each simply fulfilling their respective roles in “the game.”

Apu is fulfilling his retailer role by supplying a hungry customer with food at the lowest cost to his store. Homer is fulfilling his customer role by buying up the cheap food to his stomach’s content. Neither is fully aware of the bond they are creating even if each secretly wants to see more and more of the other. In the “real” game, Either party initiates a flirt, and the other instinctively fulfills his or her role as the flirtee by flirting right back. They often continue on and on at this basic level, never showing any true feelings. The relationship quickly turns sour. Someone usually gets tired of it, or worse, sick.

Apu gets fired as a result of this unhealthy relationship, but does not want to hurt Homer by making Homer feel like it’s his fault Apu was fired. Apu even breaks into song, masking his true feelings in an effort not to scare Homer off, desiring at the very least to remain friends with the “flirtee” in their relationship. This is all a façade, which Homer quickly discovers on the rooftop. It is only upon this discovery that their relationship is allowed to truly flourish, and the courting process can begin.

I guess the point of all this blatant over-analyzation is to say: we need to stop it. We need to stop playing the games. We need to stop masking our feelings. Sure it’s safe, but it won’t get us anywhere. Flirting is fun, but there’s a lot of playful, meaningless flirting going on today. It tells people very little about our true feelings and is often misconstrued. I’m no relationship expert. I’ve only really had one meaningful relationship in my life, but I do know that there comes a point when flirting needs to move on to singing our true feelings on the rooftop for Homer to discover. No more lying through song. No more games.

Who needs the Kwik E Mart?

I do.