I'm waiting for a Western film to come out in which a frontier wife pulls the wagon up to her cabin after a day-and-a-half round-trip into town. As her husband and children make a human chain to unload sacks of flour, beans, oil for lamps, calico and gunpowder, her husband asks, "What's for lunch?" At this moment, she climbs back into the wagon, heads toward town and yells, "I knew I forgot something."

It's a scenario that has been playing for years. Before men started to shop, they couldn't understand how a woman could fill two supermarket carts, drop $156 and still not be able to throw a simple sandwich on the table.I'm not sure I understand it either. I only know that supermarkets have been designed for shoppers for whom the last thing they want to think about when they go there is . . . food. It's the same strategy used on the women who drove a buckboard wagon to town every month or so, and it still works. Provide them with enough distractions, and they'll forget what they came for.

The old general store of the West was a mecca of the "no-meal." There were displays of rope, knives, ribbons, buttons, axle grease and the proverbial candy in little jars at the checkout counter.

Things haven't changed much. Today, shoppers must run the gamut of video rentals, African violets, toilet plungers, greeting cards, mascara, film, coffee mugs, bird food, tennis balls, canning jars and pot scrubbers. The road to the checkout lines is mined with floor wax, birthday candles, hair spray, books and magazines, deck chairs, wastebaskets, coffee filters, pantyhose, stationery, audiocassettes and laxatives. There is still the proverbial wall of candy at the counter.

Last Friday, I brought 10 bags of food into the house and dumped them on the countertop. My husband said, "I'm starved. How about a hamburger for lunch?"

I snatched the package out of his hand. "I'm saving that for chili on Thursday. And put down the chicken; it takes too long."

"Hey," he said, "here's some boiled ham."

"Don't touch that. I'm saving it for lunches."

"That's what I'm having."

"To carry! Not to eat!"

As soon as we put away the groceries away, we went out to lunch.