It has come to my attention that my last blog post may have seemed a teentz sad. That was not my intent and although this blog exists mainly for me to exercise my literary muscles, I do strive to keep people somewhat entertained, and I do appreciate feedback. Usually when I write in verse, it is with the mindset of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, not Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. There’s enough of that in the world already. So, for this post, I bring you…. Love.
For those of you that don’t know, I love Love. I am all about the Meet-Cute, that romantic bada-bing, bada-boom that preludes the Big Bang. I love watching it in movies, reading it in books, and witnessing it in real life. In fact, I currently have three romance novels in the works so a few of my imagined Meet-Cutes are actual works-in-progress. (Stay tuned on those.) My mind concocts Meet-Cute scenarios every day, devised from random snippets of conversation overheard or situations observed at the grocery store, the gas station, the premium cat food section at Petco. Even, as this one did, during my dog walks.
I see many odd things on those walks. From the spent condoms, empty packs of cigarettes and wayward boomerangs, to half-filled bottles of pop (or… worse), crusts of bread, and slices of cheese, these items spark arbitrary and sometimes slapstick narratives which then project themselves onto my brain’s virtual keyboard. Such is the way my mind works, and to pass time during monotonous dog duty, I concoct. I form. I fabricate. The following is one of these fantastic extrapolations, fashioned after a chance encounter with a slice of American cheese in its native habitat (and by that, I mean America). Travel with me and my mind’s eye to the frozen food aisle in a local grocery store.
“Excuse me, are you talking to the cheese?”
His deep baritone reverberates both next to my ear and down into my shoes. His bright blue eyes, which blink like strobes, bely the benign question he poses of me. It’s a testament to his shock that a seemingly-sane woman would converse with wedges of rinded Brie. His cart swerves around mine, stopping in front of the Neufchatel. I hold my ground. Nobody puts Brie in a corner.
“Um, yeah. So?” I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear while I proceed to ignore the semi-softs and instead square off to face the slices and shreds. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice his blue irises diminish while his pupils fixate on me, one brow lifted like an inchworm, twitching as though any second, he expects me to launch a Babybel at his forehead. I also notice he’s kind of cute in a decidedly nerdy manner, his auburn hair tousled and bed-headed, like he can’t be bothered. He sports a lopsided grin with a side of coffee breath.
I stealthily rotate my head on my neck axis, Exorcist-style, and level him with a stare both Linda Blair and Blair Witch would be proud of. I also gracefully afford him a more elaborate response. “I was asking it if it was moved and if so, who moved it.”
The eye beneath the inchworm squints. “Did it Hem and Haw, or did you get a straight answer?”
One sidelong leer later, I wonder, briefly, why I divulged the depths of my crazy to a total stranger. I mean, who admits they actually ask who moved their cheese? Apparent to me however, is the fact that he has read the same self-help book I did twenty years prior, as evidenced by his use of the two main character names. My inadvertent smirk is mirrored on his face.
“No. It’s rather elusive cheese.”
I toss a pack of shredded Sargento into my cart and shift away from him. Down the aisle I sashay, swinging past the free-range eggs born of chickens that certainly deserve more than $4 to push those suckers out. One dozen selected, I strike out in search of celebratory bacon, My stomach grumbles impatiently, ravenous for one of my signature omelets. That omelet will be most incomplete without cheese and I require American for my impending egg concoction. I double-back. What was I thinking slinging cheddar into my cart without regard for American? I know, technically American isn’t real cheese, but I shush myself and scurry back to rescue a pack of slices.
The inquisitive Señor Queso smiles at me when I arrive back at Cheese Central, confident that he’s lured me back with his baby blues. I don’t give him the satisfaction and instead grab a cube of 24 individually wrapped Velveetas, thinking That’s not real cheese either! Standing at his side, I pause to sniff. The man doesn’t have coffee breath per se, but rather smells like a delicious slow-roast himself, his whole body, one whiff shy of caramel macchiato. Before I start to drool and ask him where the whipped topping is, I turn back down-aisle toward the bacon. As I twirl in front of the thick-cut, smoked pork perfection, I pluck out a pack and fling it backwards into my gaping grocery basket, which, I decide, is the perfect time to size up, from afar, the man who smells like the inside of a doughnut shop. He did, after all, smile at me. How bad could he be?
My breath catches in my throat. He is no longer afar at all. My eyes stumble upon Mr. Coffee’s cart, now perched beside mine in front of the cured meat. His turn to pretend to ignore me, feigning confusion about his option: links or patties? I see right through his staged quandary.
He weighs each hand, then tosses the patties aside. He proceeds to fondle a bundle of regular pork links in one hand, low-sodium in the other. Stymied about his choices, his fingers linger over the zip top tab of each package. I tap my foot and cross my arms as I contemplate his pursuit, convinced he’s mocking me and yet unable to look away. For a calculated moment, he inches closer to me. “Difficult decision…”
The grumble of my stomach reminds me, my as-yet-unmade omelet awaits, a mere fantasy that needs to come to fruition, and soon, lest I collapse from low blood sugar.
“So many links, so little time,” I tell him, snatching the maple-flavored, fully salted links from his hand. I grace him with a wink while I toss them in my basket. I leave, discontinuing this Breakfast of Champions, a flirtation that surely exists in my head only.
As if to confirm my suspicions, he doesn’t follow me as I wheel my grocery selections toward the front of the store, and I chalk it up to a mere hit-and-run, a cute guy merely making conversation on a Sunday morning shopping spree. I sigh and spread out the links, the cheese and the eggs onto the belt and watch as they near the register. The cashier plucks out a small square piece of paper that’s been rolled up and wedged inside the egg carton, and, upon realizing it’s not a coupon, hands it back to me. I unfurl it to to see a phone number and the words…
Oh, come on, you already know what it says, don’t you?