Jim Mullen

I'm in the express checkout line at the supermarket with a diet soda and some pre-packaged sushi. Hey, what can be better than raw fish than day-old raw fish, right? Better yet, I'm in the candy-free lane. In all the other lanes, there are small children begging mom for eight 9-cent candy bars. In my lane, there's none of that. Here the small children beg mom for the $18 copy of "Shrek 2."

Suddenly, all those signs they have up in grocery store parking lots that say "Reserved for Mothers with Small Children" are starting to make sense. They're not doing mom a favor, they're doing themselves a favor. When will parents ever learn: Letting preschoolers shop without a list is always a mistake.

Face it, you're never going to see a sign in the parking lot that says "Reserved for Parents Who Hired Baby-sitters" because they're not going to fall for that DVD-in-the-checkout-line scam.

Which brings up another point. Doesn't selling DVDs in a grocery store seem to be stretching the word "grocery" to the limit? Didn't groceries used to mean things like eggs, milk, butter and flour? Now it means DVDs, underwear, chew toys, lawn chairs, citronella torches, weed killer, paperback best sellers and cruise wear and why not? You've gone there to buy the steak you're going to put on the grill, why not grab some charcoal lighter fluid in aisle six while you're at it. It makes perfect sense. And don't miss the bin of discounted DVDs while you're there. Any two movies, $9. Any two horrible, horrible movies that they won't even show on basic cable at 4 a.m.

When I go into my big box store, the first thing I see is the DVD rack. The rest of the store is full of vacuum cleaners and coffee pots, and they know that not everybody will buy a vacuum cleaner or a coffee pot, but they know practically everyone who walks in will pick up something from the DVD rack.

When I get gas a my local gas station, on the counter next to that machine rolling the week-old hot dogs and the hot-lamp pizza is a display of DVDs for sale. My car dealer sells DVDs, the guy selling earrings in a booth in the center aisle of the mall sells DVDs, the Chinese buffet sells DVDs, the pet store sells DVDs, the book store sells DVDs, the shoe store sells DVDs.

Guess the one place in the entire town where you can't buy a DVD? Your local movie theater. Why not? It would just make too much sense. You wouldn't want to bother all those bored people waiting in line to buy tickets, waiting in line to buy soda and popcorn by putting a rack of DVDs close to them. You wouldn't want to put a bunch of DVDs displayed next to the boxes of Good and Plenty and Raisinettes, it might confuse the movie-going public.

"DVDs? What are those? I came here to watch 'Pirates of the Caribbean' not buy a bunch of other Disney movies."

I would love to be a fly on the wall at movie-theater headquarters to hear the CEOs brainstorming the subject.

"Oh, sure people will buy DVDs at the grocery store, at the 7-Eleven, at the Costco, but at a movie theater? What, are you crazy? They've just seen a movie. Why on earth would they want to watch another one?

"What do we know about the DVD business? We're in the movie-theater business, not the selling-DVD business. Would we have to put them in shopping bags? Where would we get those? What if people came in and just wanted to buy a DVD and not even watch a movie? I wouldn't want my children to see something like that. It might scar them for life. Now let's forget this silly DVD nonsense and discuss my $5 million bonus for the last few months work."

Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo." You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.