Sometimes you just have to know when to run for it. That fight or flight response kicks in and you know that punches will be less effective than a trail of dust, so you kick up your heels and get out of dodge. I had an experience like this once in a local grocery store, and while there was no pedal to the metal, I did make good time on the aisle corners with that buggy. Like a million others before me, all I wanted to do was buy a few vegetables. Enter Weird Grocery Guy.
I was standing in the produce section trying to decide between asparagus or zucchini squash when I turned to find him blocking my cart.
“Excuse me! I don’t want to interfere with your shopping, but I simply had the urge to tell you that I think you’re beautiful.”
As far as opening lines for men declaring their affections against a backdrop of Portobello mushrooms and pole beans, it wasn’t a bad start. But the fact that he was blinking like a caution light, sweating profusely, and gesticulating like an Edgar Allan Poe narrator made me take a step back into the red cabbage section.
“Oh, I don’t want to bother you!” Blink, blink. “I have zero expectations about dates!” Jab wildly into the air. “I just think that women like you should be told more often that they’re beautiful.” Blink, blink, blink, mop forehead.
“Oh,” I said, curling my fingers around my buggy handle and scouting the area to my immediate left for an opening. “How. . . nice of you.”
“Oh, don’t mention it.” Arms flailing. “I’m the perfect man for the job!” Blink, blink.
Two thoughts crossed my mind: one, why couldn’t rising unemployment rates put this man out of a job, and two, why didn’t I have the FBI’s number on speed dial? I was just about to arm myself with red potatoes and pelt away, but then he stepped around my buggy to close the gap, and I took off like Secretariat at Belmont. To heck with asparagus or fresh squash. It was feeling more like a double-bolt-your-door-and-have-a-slice-of-frozen-pizza-while-oiling-your-shotgun kind of night by the minute.
I made good time through the candy aisle and finally shook him in the cheap wine section. He must have been a Baptist, since no self-respecting member of that denomination would be caught dead amidst the Chardonnay lest a deacon spy him and set up an intervention plan to pull him back from the evils of alcohol. Sometimes it really does pay to know your local demographics.
I shopped cautiously the rest of that trip, and when I reached an end cap of an aisle, I tentatively peered around the corner before emerging in plain sight. At the end of the soup aisle, I saw WGG with another victim hemmed in by the salad starters. I couldn’t read expressions from that far away, but I could see the broad, sweeping arm motions, looking as if he was trying to land a plane on the Vidalia onions. By the time I reappeared on the other side of the pastas, Victim 2 was wheeling away with enough velocity to lay tire tread on the linoleum. Just another satisfied customer of the Beautiful Compliments industry.
© 2014 – Traci Carver