Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chicks are weird.

I could stop writing right there, but I won’t. That wouldn’t help me become a better writer, and isn’t that the point of a writer having a blog?

I like grocery shopping. Always have. I like going late at night so that it’s just me and aisles full of preservatives. Anyway there’s a cute, young lady who works some of the night shifts at our local grocery store. When given the choice between a checkout lane with a crotchety, old lady, or a young, shy lady, I choose the young one. There was one week when I literally went to the grocery store three nights in a row for just a handful of items and young lady was working the express lane each time. On the third night, she finally said something to me besides “do you have your Dominick’s card?” or “Do you need any help out, Mr. [Butchering of my last name]?”

“Wow, you must really like shopping here,” young lady said shyly in a way that other shy people recognize instantly.

“No,” I responded. “I just have this rare disease that only fake macaroni and cheese can prevent. Thank goodness you still had some, or I probably wouldn’t have lived through the night” (It should go without saying that I had a bunch of boxes of generic-brand shells and cheese.)

She smiled a little bit, forced out the faintest whisper of a laugh and then said the words I’d been waiting to hear, “Do you need any help out, Mr. [yet another butchering of my last name]?”

So, I’d made a friend at the supermarket and it was kind of nice to see a familiar, friendly face when I had to run out for odds and ends, instead of the sea of surliness one is usually confronted with during checkout time. She’d smile knowingly at me whenever I was in line and I’d smile back. We never really said much to each other, since small talk is neither of our fortes. And, that was o.k.

Now, let me be clear about something. I always wear my wedding band. It’s no secret that I’m married. I wear it proudly. I’m old. I’m not good-looking. I’m certainly not wealthy. At best, I’m marginally humorous. So, that ring serves as a beacon to all other dorks that they too can succeed in romance. With all that said, I want to say I was positively NOT flirting with this girl at any time. Heck, I haven’t had to flirt in over ten years, I’m not even sure I remember how. I was just making a little effort to treat someone working a lonely job as something more than just a lonely person.

About two weeks ago, I had to run to the store for some ice cream. Maybe I didn’t HAVE to run to the store, but I did. My wife and daughter came with and when we got into line, I realized young lady was working. When she saw me, a smile started to form on her face until she saw my wife and daughter. Then, I got the iciest glare I’d ever received. “Do you need any help out, Mr. [close semblance of my last name]?” No, I certainly did not.

I don’t think my wife noticed the look. If she did, she never said anything. But, I still couldn’t shake the sense that young girl felt as if I’d done something wrong. As if I’d kept my wife and daughter a secret, never mind the fact that she’d seen me buy tampons and Dora the Explorer yogurt. It was just weird. Well, weirder than shopping at midnight usually is. Anyway, the next couple of times I went shopping and ended up in young girl’s lane, I pretty much got the cold shoulder.

Last night, I made one of my nocturnal runs to the store. There were maybe ten or so people inside and two checkout lines open, regular and express. Young lady was working the express lane. Grumpy old lady was working the regular line. Since I had about 832 items, I went to the regular line. I finished paying and old lady was slowly bagging some of my stuff. Usually, I’ll help out with the bagging, but there were only a few bags and they were behind the register. So, I waited. With about six bags to go, young lady comes rushing over and asks old lady, “Do you want me to finish?”

Old lady, with the weariness that only comes from working the grocery graveyard shift replied, “Whatever,” and walked away.

I was waiting for the awkward silence to descend, but young lady looked at me, smiled, and said, “I haven’t seen you around for a while. How have you been?”

Now, this may have been the longest sentence she’d ever strung together for me, and it kind of took me by surprise.

“Oh, you know, I’ve been the same. I’m pretty sure that this is the tallest I’m ever going to get, and I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that.”

She laughed and bagged the rest of my stuff. “Do you need any help out?”

Yes, yes I do. I need to figure out what the heck just happened. I’m nearly 36 and I’m no closer to understanding chicks than when I was 12.

Weird. Just weird.

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