Friends Who Read by Email: Once again, I recommend reading this week's post on the website. My thoughts during this expedition to the grocery store are in italics. After a few weeks of serious reflections on serious events, I hope you'll enjoy some comic relief in today's piece. As always, thanks for reading, listening, and reflecting with me. There will be no post next week, but I look forward to writing with you again the week of October 11.
On an ordinary summer evening, I went to the grocery store to buy salmon, olives, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Basket draped over my wrist, I walked through the automatic doors with one goal: I would only leave with the four items on my list. No cookies. No flowers from the $1.99 bucket. No potato chips. No coffee. Oh wait! Starbucks k-cups are on sale right at the entrance! No. Resist the temptation. Deep breath. Back to the list. Focus.
Thankfully, the produce aisle was kind to me. I put two tomatoes in the basket: nothing more, nothing less. Then again, when was the last time you were tempted to buy kale or lemons at the store?
I swung by the olives and said, "no," to salsa in the nearby International Foods' section. Halfway there. Next was the salmon.
I walked up to the seafood counter and made eye contact with an employee in the back. He motioned to me that he was on his way. Confident that the shrimp and catfish would not tempt me, I browsed the selection.
"Do you need some help?"
I expected to see an employee when I looked up. Instead, I saw a guy wearing a fisherman's hat. No name tag. No Kroger-colored shirt. Just a guy in a fisherman's hat in the seafood section.
I started to laugh and make a joke: until I saw a look in the guy's eye that I'd seen in desperate pall bearers and grave diggers. (Read "How Not To Get a Date With An Unmarried (Female) Pastor" for more information). This guy wasn't catching perch or snapper. He was fishing for a date.
"No, someone's coming to take my order," I said, pointing to the counter.
"I'll find someone for you."
"No. Really. Someone's coming now to take my order."
God bless the seafood employee at Kroger who appeared at the perfect time. I placed my order, and the fisherman floated away. Three items down. One to go on the other side of the store. Look right. Look left. No fisherman's hat. Coast clear. I headed down the baby aisle for quickest access to the gourmet cheese bin. Ahead of me appeared a large basket driven by the fisherman. I picked up two packages of diapers and acted like I was debating which one to buy. One was for toddlers, the other for newborns. I'm a bad actress.
Before I exited the safety of the baby aisle, I looked both ways again. He had disappeared. I reached the cheeses, found the mozzarella, picked one up, and ...
"Excuse me, miss."
Fisherman: I know this may sound unconventional..."
Uncomfortable is a better word.
Fisherman: But I notice you don't have a ring ..."
Seriously? Is that a line taught at some Secret School of Dating?! Someone needs to shut down that institution if it exists...
Fisherman: Are you single?
Say 'no.' But that would be a lie because I am single. I could confess and repent later though. Should I lie?
Me: Kind of.
WHAT? KIND OF?! What does that even mean?
Fisherman: You from around here?
Say no. That's not lying because I didn't grow up here.
Me: Kind of.
Fisherman: Well, could I get a number or a name or something?"
Deep breath. I can say "no" to that question.
Me: I'd rather not. Thank you though,
Did I just thank him for being creepy?
Fisherman: But you're not wearing a ring.
During this whole exchange, I rearranged the entire gourmet cheese section to avoid eye contact with the fisherman. Only after the second ring comment did I look him in the eye and tell him, , "No."
He mumbled something and walked towards the checkout. I sailed on, too, with my goal accomplished: four items in my basket. Coffee, cookies, flowers, kale, and the fisherman stayed behind.
While I do not care to run into the desperate bachelor again, I am grateful for what he taught me that evening. In case he stumbles upon this blog, I do want to thank him for reminding of three important lessons.
1. Sometimes "no" is the best complete sentence in the world. Sometimes it's the most difficult complete sentence in the world, too. Not only do we struggle with it when tempted to buy groceries we don't need. We also struggle to use it when standing up for what's best for ourselves.
2. Always look both ways before crossing the aisle. Always. Then look both ways again.
3. Wear rings. Lots of rings.
all good things to each of you,