Checked Out

Payday equals grocery run. Groan with a slight snarl. It’s just the three of us, in our multigenerational household: my Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth Mother, my 19 year old college aged son and myself. My son requested apples and vanilla Activia yogurt. My mother asked for two bottles of cranberry juice, a bag of marshmallows and Pop Tarts.

The grocery side of the store with the big W on it was packed this evening. In the frozen food section, buggies and people congested the aisle, so I decided that we really didn’t need any quick frozen dinners; I’d just go home and make something instead. As I turned my buggy around, I noticed a guy on his phone and thought to myself, ‘Probably calling his wife to ask what he needed to pick up on his way home. How thoughtful of him.’ Well, then I saw that he noticed me too and did 180 watching me as I passed down the aisle. I thought, ‘Do I know him?’ Then I got a little aggravated.  ‘Jerk,’ I said to myself. ‘There he is on the phone with his wife and he’s eyeing me in the frozen foods section.’ I gave him a shoulder as cold as a Stouffer’s lasagna.

I finished my shopping and got in the shortest check out line. And guess who was ahead of me? Yep. Mr. Frozen Foods. He was unloading TV dinners for one and granola bars from his shopping cart and again he turned to look at me. Not rudely, just trying to see if he wanted to start a conversation. I gave him a tiny, polite smile and noticed two things: he had a case of water under his buggy and he wore no wedding ring.

I began to wind back my first assumption of Mr. Frozen Foods. Maybe he wasn’t married. On the back of his work shirt was a logo. A quick Google search and I found out where he worked. Kinda. The company sells o-rings and hydraulic lift things.

As I had checked out the contents of his buggy, he covertly spied my shopping items. Apples, cranberry juice, yogurt, bacon, milk, Special K, Pop Tarts, marshmallows and a small stack of baby books for my grandson-it’s his birthday, by the way.

Did I see a tiny flicker of disappointment in his eyes? Then I realized he had done the same thing with me that I had done with him- he presumed. I had presumed he had a wife. He figured I had a bunch of kids at home. The look on his face said, ‘Hmmmm. I wonder how many she’s got at home?’ I wanted to tell him, you know with all the charm and flirtation I could smash together (God knows I’m out of practice), that the books were for my grandson and the Pop Tarts were for my mother. And why shouldn’t she enjoy her Pop Tarts? If you get to be her Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth years you could eat whatever you wanted to, too.

Oh, well. He paid for his groceries and politely told the cashier to have a nice evening.

I went home and joked to my mother that her Pop Tarts and marshmallows had cost me a date.

I got checked out while waiting to be checked out.

Happy Birthday, Brentlee!



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