My dearest, up in the aerie, sipping icefilled pink wine; staunching drop of blood from side of my right thumb, the skin in that spot gets very dry in cold weather months, every year; the baseboard heaters are ticking, I've just turned down the thermostat; it's supposed to drop tonight, be in the teens & twenties the next couple of days, so D's been battening down the hatches, climbing a ladder to put up the storm windows, insulating my bedroom windows with weatherstripping. I stopped at a big box store today and came away with two enormous tropical plants, for three dollars apiece, added now to the jungly collection in the solarium.
I'm feeling a little - I don't know, frustrated on one level, sheepish on another, schoolgirlish on yet another. After the pit stop for potted plants, I went to the supermarket to do some food shopping. Mostly I go around the perimeter and look for bright yellow stickers which mean that an item has been marked down. I get quite a bit of my produce that way, plus chicken, fish -- I do great, and it takes a lot of thinking right out of it, going right for the bargains, that need nothing more than to be gotten to fairly quickly - no problem here, since I cook most of the meals.
Anyway, it was super-crowded at the market, unusually so. I like that supermarket, it's warmer, cozier somehow, than this sterile other one up the road (that's also pricier, and I don't believe it's any better). I don't know, this market has more of a tri-state feel to me, a little gritty, nice mix of products, and of people, both shop staff and clientele - and they aren't averse to marking things down - how nice is that?
So it was very crowded, and I found a place at the end of the least-long seeming line, and I noticed this really good looking guy, strolling around with his handheld basket, perusing the shelves. At the moment I spied him now he was considering a potato chip display, only one corner of what is pretty nearly an entire aisle of chips of various sorts.
Actually, I'd noticed him earlier in the market, at a couple of different split seconds, once in the produce area, another instant in some interior aisle, but I needed the next one over, to get golden raisins, and oatmeal...
I'm going on & on, I don't mean to. It's just that his appearance was unusually appealing to me, and you have to understand - the market was supercrowded --- with mostly a parade - I hate to say it - of grotesques - the poor of all ages, many obese, deformed from lifespans, if not generations, of poor nutrition. I feel for them on some level - I myself have battled weight gain, and had to teach myself how to eat in a proper nutritional way, and I don't know that I even have it entirely down yet.
The area where I live is very strange, with many very poor people. And also some very rich, who don't necessarily shop at this market, probably import most of their foodstuffs from the City, I imagine, or buy it (in season) from local farms & stands.
Anyway! This guy was seriously good-looking to me, and stood out to this Alice as a man of around my age, with a nice look about him - healthy, intelligent - rugged, casual, no attitude, nice expression on his bearded face, relaxed air. As I stood on line, the market was so crowded I just let myself stare after him, as he perused those chips, wandered a little more, and eventually found a line to stand in - an express line, he had only one small basket - and I turned away (as I did anyway from time to time, I mean I wasn't staring-staring) - and I ruefully hoped somehow that in the sorting out of who-comes-into-which-checkout-lane - much as at a toll plaza - he might come into mine
and there was a break in the clouds - or the lines - and he did - suddenly, amazingly, he was behind me, unloading his basket of - I could see now - largely organic products. Utz Organic chips of some sort (potato? corn? didn't register on me). A scruffy bunch of organic scallions. A paper-wrapped slender bundle of fish - oh my, I thought, he actually orders fish from the guy behind the counter (I just pick up the prewrapped yellow-stickered packages).
So if I have a resolution - New Years or not - it's to try to be a little more outgoing - and so he & I started chatting... I don't even recall really who first... just little exchanges... oh my - so crowded today! he exclaimed. Yes - why is that? We speculated - people acting on New Year’s resolutions perhaps? stocking up for the impending cold snap? And the bagger said -- people have gotten their Social Security checks today. Oh - so that's it -- ahhh. And in the midst of that - reminding me only now as I type of a childhood magic trick, when some adult male would reach over to somehow procure a quarter or nickel from behind my ear (ah! were making money so easy!) -- this super good-looking to me gentleman leans down and picks up a couple of coins that -
had I dropped them? It was the point in the transaction that I'd opened my wallet - had I dropped a couple of coins, loose in the billfold? If I had - I wasn't aware of it. And suddenly there I am like Jean Arthur to - oh what's his name? - Joel McCrea -- why, I dropped those - I had no idea - thank you - not just a penny?
because - too - he then put a dime in my hand.
The most imbued eleven cents ever!
At least now --- sweetheart
Ah, and there was - in all of that less than 60 seconds - banter about the upcoming "Can-Can" (canned goods) sale, that starts Thursday -- he's the one who mentioned that, as a possible theorem for why the market was so congested - to which I with less-than-Jean-Arthurly wit responded, in broken English, "my breath is baited." To which, not surprisingly, that verbal ping-pong sailed off the end, did not respond.
Damn! Why couldn't I have made some clever retort about the advent of the Can-Can sale, coinciding with the Epiphany - gifts of the Magi?
Anyway darling... you get my drift. The guy looked really good, really nice. Sort of like who I had in mind when I once started writing a novel that went nowhere, involving a fictionalized Hudson River estate turned botanic garden, featuring the main gardener (to protagonist Claudia) named Jake --
So sweetheart, I'm just going on & on... but so many of these impressions occurred within split seconds - and the moment that he & I were on line together. When my transaction was done, I said to him, California-style, "have a good one."
I left the market, singing under my breath, the Bob Schneider song, "Wicked Witch of Cincinnati, took out her old broomstick..."
I was so happy for that encounter.
I went to my car and on the drive back - was at once elated, and resigned - that I have never seen that guy before (in the market of grotesques) and am unlikely to again
Damn! Should I have asked him out for coffee? What if I had?
Instantly the bubble would have burst - of course
So how are these things done - ?
And where would we have gone - where would I have suggested - should I have had the nerve to ask him out in such a fashion? (And now looking back on it, I swear I just might have, except for the bagger, a smart, world-weary, exhausted-looking woman who usually works in produce -- if I was going to make a complete fool of myself - be rejected - I didn't wish a witness I might see again, by the lettuces & carrots.)
And that's it darling. Did you really need to hear this story? Perhaps not. But - oh, but. I haven't seen you in over a year, and have no real hope to. I haven't seen 1.0 in 35 years. What am I supposed to do?
I managed a workout towards the end of the day.
Maybe I should go to the supermarket a little more often. That guy - he didn't buy very much. It was a very bachelorly basket - I'd say what he bought is enough for one, for a day or two, tops. That single bag of Utz Organic chips -- for a guy like him?
So you've brought me to this Dunkin Donuts. Do they have organic coffee?
I have no idea. I haven't set foot in a Dunkin Donuts in decades. Maybe I should have taken you to the Muddy Cup.
The Muddy Cup is no more.
Maybe I should have asked you to the fancy new Cafe Perch - but seems a bit fancy, after the supermarket
plus they have only two wobbly stools in that front-window bakery
Oh okay - so we go to Dunkin Donuts
so - what do you do [I write]
what kind of writing do you do [poetic... letters... love letters]
oh kiss me you fool - oh somebody vastly appealing to me - please do...