She was a goddess in the soup aisle.
And I instinctively did what every guy does when in the presence of such a vision. I sucked in my gut and tried to act not so nerdish. It was a difficult chore.
She continued to look at the soups as I clumsily tried to step out of her line of vision. Her eyes were what caught me. She wasn't some magazine model-looking stunner. Instead, it was real. There was no photo studio lighting, no Photoshop airbrushing. And she had heavy mascara, giving her the “raccoon look” that I go weak in the knees for. I once interviewed for a news story that girl in the group the Bangles — you know, the one who wore the heavy eye liner and looked around in the video during that Egyptian song. I guess I was hooked since then.
I tried to sound suave, like James Bond, when excusing myself. Instead, I'm sure I sounded like Woody Allen trying to pick up a middle schooler. So, I moved on, loading my cart with frozen foods, chips and the other junk a single guy who can't take care of himself gets.
But I ran into her again at the checkout line. I pushed my cart to the cashier when I saw her.
“So, we meet again,” I said.
I was aiming for “cool and debonair.” I achieved “creepy and lurking.”
I offered to let her go ahead of me. I mumbled something about having a million cans of cat food which would slow the cashier down. I thought she'd think I was a sensitive guy who bought plenty of food for his cat. Instead, upon reflecting now, I'm sure she thought I was a desperate loner who talked to my cat all the time.
She balked and said it was okay and urged me to go ahead in an almost pleading cry. She took out her cell phone and began texting. At first, I thought she may have been messaging a friend about seeing a nice guy who cares for his cat. Then I realized our county recently installed a 911 system that allows people to text emergencies. Maybe she was filling out some restraining order online.
After paying for my groceries, I turned back and nodded bye to her. I went to my car and let out my gut with a rush of air akin to a Greyhound bus pulling into the station. Then I noticed my back pocket of my pants was inverted and flapping out. And my hair, grey and too long, was all messed up. And I needed a shave. And I missed a button. A homeless guy would have had a better shot at that goddess.
And I thought, what was I thinking? I really didn't want to hit on her. I'm kind of shy that way. If I was being honest, I'd have asked her if she wanted to become my next ex-girlfriend, but that's not the way real guys do it. So instead, I bumbled around in the soup aisle.
I guess we all need some type of acknowledgement, some acceptance or confidence boost and we seek it in whatever ways we can. I see the skinny guys on television saying all the right things to the women and I realize that, at my age, I'm way past that.
So, I tucked my pocket liner back into my pants, I tried to smooth out the mop of hair atop my head and I opened the bag of chips to snack on during my trip home. There was a good game coming up on television that night and my cat needed to be fed. Life continued on as it was.