Grocery Store Getaway

Alright, I promised a side trail into my personal life to illustrate how awkward, clumsy, and ridiculous I am so this will be that story.  Why I feel the need to publicly share this is beyond me, but here goes, the part in my blog where I — again — make a complete fool of myself…

The topic: Dating.

The summary: Dating is hard.

I know, I know.  I’m not the first person to say this.  There have been millions before me and there will be billions after… but it is true.   So why does it have to be this way? Maybe it is because females and males clearly have no concept of how to communicate with each other.  Or maybe it is because I clearly have no concept of when males are communicating with me.  Here’s an example in a conversation I had not too long ago with my mother.  We went to the grocery store together, which side note, she was excited about because she claims grocery stores are the “beeest places to meet someone” . . . as if I’m going to say yes to a stranger asking me on a date in the bacon aisle… then again, if he likes bacon as much as I do, that’s not such a crazy idea.  Regardless, I’m getting off track.  Here was our conversation after the store.

Mom: Oh my gosh!  There were *so* many cute single guys in there!
Me: What?  There were?
Mom: Honey.  Are you *serious*?
Me: Wait… Are *you* joking…?
Mom: Oh. My!  My daughter’s in the spaghetti aisle making a face of concentration at the brand of sauce she’ll get, completely unaware of attractive single males around her.

And… that’s me.  That’s basically my life.  Let’s do another case and point: Flirting.  I have zero concept of when someone flirts with me or when they are interested in me.  I’m a blunt, to-the-point type of person so I appreciate some straightforwardness back.  Cutting to the chase, heck even removing the romantic sweet, flirty words to just come out to say, “Listen.  I like you” causes a world less confusion for me.

And it turns out I’m not alone. I remember reading a study a couple years ago about flirting.  Apparently, eighteen percent of women know when they are being hit on.  Only eighteen percent!  Here’s more of a breakdown of the study: Fifty-two single guys and girls were asked to chat with each other in pairs.  At the end, they were questioned on if the other person flirted with them.  Crazily enough, eighty percent said there was no flirting when there had been.  And bless it, poor females were only twenty-two percent accurate at detecting that flirting had even happened.

What did we learn?  That the struggle is real.  At least for me… and here’s my story…

I went to the grocery store — ah, yes the grocery store again — not too long ago and as I walked in, there was a guy in front of me.  He was walking really slowly, which perturbed me because I’m an in-and-out stick-to-the-list type of grocery store shopper so right at the entrance of the sliding doors, I quickly grabbed my basket and sidestepped him (mentally, cheering myself on for having fast-paced moves)… which took me to the produce section where I began to analyze apples.  No sooner did I do this when Mr. Slow Poke moved next to me and looked over the apples too.  We stayed a minute beside each other until I bagged my apples and went over to the oranges.  No sooner had I moved, Mr. I-Want-An-Orange-Now moved next to me again.

Let it be said here, I’m always suspicious of people.  Maybe it comes from working in the news, maybe it comes from feeling the desire to protect my little sister from creeps in the world, but I was trying to put aside those suspicions.  “These are the two most common fruits after all,” I thought and off I went to get an onion.  Guess who also needed an onion?  Yep.  Mr. Onion-Wanter came strolling up, lookin’ over the bulb veggie too.  I darted to the salads next, still sticking to my list . . . and Guy is there again, in need of a salads and beside me.  This is when I thought to myself: “One of two things are happening.  Either he is creepy, is stalking me as his next victim and intends to kill me when I leave the grocery store . . . ooor . . . we have the same taste in foods” so I give him a quick side look to determine which option I was dealt with.  He seemed a fit, muscular, beefy, jockish-type, around the same age as me, short crew cut like a stereotypical police officer.   That made me feel he was A) not a killer and B) into healthy fruits and vegetables.  With peace restored, I continued to the garlic.  No joke, he followed me there.  Then the specialty cheese section . . .  he comes . . . to the humus . .. still there . . . back to the apples because I was one short in my quickness to start shopping . . . and yep, he apparently forgot another apple too . . . to even the onions again, which I didn’t need but wanted to see if he pretended to be forgetful as well . . . and lo and behold, guess who claimed to have forgotten an onion only to not-really-get-an-onion because when he approached, I put that sucker down so fast I was almost chucked it at the other onions.  “Strange,” I thought to myself.  “He is definitely following me” as I walked quickly to the next aisle.

And here is when I kinda sorta went crazy.

I darted to the bread section but not fast enough because Mr. Pokey-Who-Now-Was-Not-So-Pokey-Now tracked me.  Let it be known here, I paused and placed in my cart numerous items from this aisle: bread, ketchup, dressing, barbecue sauce, and during each of these stops, Guy walked up next to me, stopping too.  The odd thing about it though was that he would pick up a similar item — say barbecue sauce — but the moment I moved away, he would place the item back on the shelf.  In my head, I needed to say something to him (again, my blunt nature) and it sounded something like this: “Either we have identical tastes in food or you are stalking me.”  But when I worded the “you are stalking me,” it seemed a bit harsh . . . or crazy . . . so I just glanced at him.  I was going to smile, maybe even talk if he said something, but he made zero eye contact — I mean n.o.t.h.i.n.g.  Even his body language was saying, “I don’t want to talk” because he was truly studying the ketchup as if he had never seen ketchup before.  “Clearly,” I said to myself, “you are complimenting yourself when no compliment is due.  You are not dressed cutely; you have on a tee-shirt and jeans and, crap, am I really wearing the flip flops that have the material ripped with a hole in them?!  (I looked down)  Yep, yep, you are.  No way.  This guy is not hitting on you and therefore (yes, I use the word ‘therefore’ in my thoughts), this is a dangerous situation.  You were wrong — The guy is a crazy person.  He is stalking you to kill you.  You need to plan an escape.”  So I did.  Thoughts can change in a moment’s notice when the situation is dire.

With pounding heart, pit stains forming from a profuse amount of sweat due to nervousness at my approaching death, niceties were lost.  I feared him.  Where to hide in a grocery store though?  No idea, and if you figure it out, tell me.  The only thing I could think of was to run — honest to God, run like a sprinter in the race of my life — to the next aisle.  But he saw me . . . because I had been right next to him . . . and no joke, he sprinted to the next aisle too . . . which is where he found me again and stopped so suddenly that I thought he banged into a person.  I pretended to look at some item that I had no clue was even a grocery store item and when he came closer to analyze something I didn’t care to see when I took off again!  Full run to the next aisle.  He followed me still, traveling even faster than before.  I was panicking.

At this moment in time, a few things were racing through my mind . . . as I raced through the grocery store.  One, if I screamed, people would come to my aid . . . or think I was crazy because I was, after all, in a grocery store.  Two, I could run just drop my basket and run home . . . which was absurd because I needed my food and this creep wasn’t going to get me to ditch what I had taken time to pick out.  And it was right around here that it became a heated competition.  That I could win.

I needed to find a hiding spot and wait him out.  Claim my victory.

So, in my moment of insanity, I began to map out the aisles of the store in my mind — candy and chips, frozen foods, wine and beer, cottage cheese — YESSS!!!  COTTAGE CHEESE seemed like the safest spot in the grocery store.  It screamed grandma’s house and not a place that strange males would want to go so off I ran — like I had never run before — towards the dairy section.

People were looking at me, probably judging me, I was banging into their hips with my basket, but I didn’t stop running until I was beside the cream cheese and cottage cheese and that’s where I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I didn’t even pretend to look at the food.  It was a matter of wit, strength, fortitude.  I was going to win!  I could hide from him!  (enter evil laugh)

And I did!  I DID, GUYS!!!  I cannot tell you in words exactly how excited I got in the grocery store but I did a fist punch into the air then yank it by my side, saying, “YEEESSS!!!” out loud (which I think scared a woman with a toddler near me who was searching for non-fat yogurt or something).  I then sort of pace-slash-crazy danced in the middle of the aisle.  I had BEATEN him at HIS OWN game!  III HAD WOOON!  I WAS THE TRIUMPHANT WINNER!!!

To further celebrate, I continued to dance-slash-wait in the dairy section for at least ten minutes (I timed, too, to be safe) . . . then determined it was alright if I made my way to the checkout line.  With my desire to continue shopping absolutely gone (due to my brimming enthusiasm), I got in line . . . and that’s where — suddenly — guess who was behind me?  Yep.  Mr. Competition.  I cut my eyes at him and held my head high though, I was the winner here!  I showed him!  And the entire time in the line to the cashier, we didn’t speak a word, but he knew — he knew I had succeeded and beat him.

The story ends with me still running home so as not to encounter Guy-That-Lost-His-Own-Game again.  Which I didn’t.  Because I’m awesome.  And because I don’t lose at competitions.  I’m a winner . . .

until . . . I went home, put away my groceries, and called my mother — all in an exuberant, I’m-the-coolest-person type of way . . . and that’s when she reamed me out.

Mom: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU RAN AWAY FROM HIM!?”
Me: “I mean.  It is as it sounds, mom.  I ran away from him.  I had to beat him at his own game!!!”
Mom: (grumbling) HONEY!  WHAT. IS. THE. MATTER. WITH. YOU?!
(Here I was utterly confused because I thought she would have hugged me due to my quick-thinking skills and narrowly escaping death)
Me: ” . . . Um . . . Mama . . . ?  I got away from a killer.”
Mom (who was almost inaudible from her yelling through the phone): “YOU ESCAPED A KILLER?!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?  HE WAS HITTING ON YOU!!!  DO YOU NOT REMEMBER ME TELLING YOU GROCERY STORES ARE WHERE YOU CAN PICK PEOPLE UP?!  Hoooney!!!  Ohhhh, honey (this was not the good type of ‘honey’ nickname.  This was the down South, bless-your-heart type of ‘honey’ nickname).  I thought I raised you right.  I thought I raised you better than this.  Honey . . . (the rest was cut off by something that sounded like sobbing)”
(And it was around here I realized I had seriously let down my mother.)

My story has now become the joke of the family.  So much so that it has inspired conversations between my sister and her husband…
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and, of course, caused more concern and worry over whether or not I need help in the dating world . . . which I don’t even want to get into how much advice I’ve been forced to receive.  It became a type of interrogation torture because clearly they realized now why I was single.  Not because I was happy and enjoying single life.  But because I had a problem.  And I needed an intervention.  And lessons on how to handle myself in a polite, female-fashion.

What I am trying to say is if there is anything harder than dating it is having to talk to your family about dating.

And that is where I will leave it.  Because one, there is nothing more to say as it is evident I am ridiculous and awkward and unaware.  And two, turns out I don’t need help after all . . . (eeee!) . . . More on that soon . . . !