Um, that was not an excerpt. Well, it was a real life excerpt. I understand it’s important to get that first sentence right. I’m sure you all appreciate the extra effort. So, if you must know . . .
I went to the grocery store after work today. Well, it was yesterday. And it was interesting. Want to hear about it? I thought so.
You know how sometimes you accidentally make eye contact with a stranger? You give a half smile and maybe a nod and keep walking. Well, that happened to me. Nice looking guy, seemed pleasantly friendly, the kind that makes you think maybe not everyone in the world is intent on meanness for its own sake.
We crossed paths again in the next aisle. Same brief nod and smile, though this time with the awkward acknowledgment that we’d been here and done this already. At least, that was my take on it.
A couple aisles later as I’m standing there trying to remember which flavor of Pringles DD19 likes, here comes the same guy again. Only this time he plants himself next to me, clearly ready to make some kind of speech. I thought the worst: Oh crap, somehow I’ve managed to offend this guy and now he’s going to tell me about it.
He said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just want to tell you that I think you are a very beautiful person.” Huh? “I really think not enough people in this world are willing to say positive things about other people and I just wanted to tell you that. I think you’re beautiful.”
Ok, so this was not what I was expecting. But it was nice. He was a nice guy. I was very flattered and told him so. Thanked him for brightening my day. Really. Thank you. That was nice. Now go away.
He said his name was Mike and stuck out his hand to shake mine. I’m thinking maybe this guy is taking court ordered anger management classes and this is homework: find someone who looks particularly downtrodden and make them feel good through flattery. So I played along. I said, “I’m BCB, nice to meet you, Mike,” and shook his hand. I can be nice. There were a few seconds of polite chit chat and then he went on his way and I decided sour cream and onion sounded right.
I was in the bread aisle when I noticed him again. I tried not to, but it’s damn near impossible not to notice someone who walks right up to you and starts talking. This time he managed, pretty much all in the same breath, to tell me his age (ten years younger than mine), his marital status (single, never married), his parental status (no kids), his occupation (bio-pharmaceutical industry), his financial status (all those material things are very nice but don’t make up for that lack of personal connection), that he’d taken the day off work to help a buddy build a deck (explaining the somewhat scruffy appearance) and that I have truly beautiful eyes. Huh?
Who does this guy think he’s kidding? This time of year my eyes are a prime candidate for an antihistamine commercial. So I’m a little stunned, but starting to suspect this behavior was not ordered by any court. Then he speculated about my age being close to his, perhaps a couple years younger. So I told him how old I am. I even mentioned that my youngest child was currently attending college at the school featured on his ball cap.
He didn’t miss a beat. Said I looked fantastic and much younger than my age. Said he was attracted to more mature women anyway, women you could have a cup of coffee with and actually talk to. I had a brief vision of this guy throwing himself in front of a train in the throes of abject despair, so I refrained from mentioning that I do not drink coffee. You know, just in case.
Between trying to remember what else I was supposed to be shopping for and calculating how much longer I could linger before the tuna steaks in my cart went bad for lack of refrigeration, I started to wonder whether this guy was hitting on me.
Nah. That would be crazy. It’s been so long, that isn’t even a distant memory. He was just bored and lonely. Looking for a little friendly conversation. I thanked him again for the repeated compliments and edged carefully away toward the deli section, remembering my DD’s request to get “something for sandwiches other than peanut butter.”
The third time he approached me [sigh], I started to wonder whether the store had security people on staff. This time he handed me a register receipt with his name and phone number written on it, telling me to call him if I wanted to talk.
Yes, I looked for the hidden cameras. For the reality show host lurking eagerly and not-so-inconspicuously behind the doughnut display. For the banner declaring: “Top Ten Reasons to Trust Your Instincts” or “The Importance of Maintaining a Regimen of Skin Care and Dental Hygiene Once You Reach a Certain Age.” For something, anything, to explain this aberration. Nothing. Not even a trace of glitter trailing in my wake.
Of course when I got home, first thing I did was rush inside to look in the mirror. To hell with the tuna mutating in the back of the car. I figured drastic changes must have taken place since the last time I looked. Hey, it could happen. You never know.
So anyway, I looked and, well– damn. Another hope shattered.
And then I started laughing. Poor Mike. That must have taken a lot of nerve. Good thing I was there so he had someone to practice on. I really hope he’s not sitting at home waiting for his phone to ring. ‘Cause that just ain’t happening, buddy.
Sheesh. And my DD thinks the internet is a dangerous place. Just wait until I tell her about the grocery store.