This has been one heck of a long week, mainly because I’ve been battling some sort of flu/cold bug and continued to go to work. That being said, after work today I found myself in the small grocery store just down the street from my work. They’re having an awesome sale on some of my favorite veggies. Yes, I love veggies.

I enter the store and immediately begin to miss my sister because this particular store is an exact duplicate of the one in the town where she lives and the last time I was in this chain of store was with her.

The store is crazy busy – to the point I wonder if the store is giving away free groceries today. The other shoppers seem like a sea of faceless people to me as I track down the green peppers, romaine lettuce hearts and tomatoes.

I round the end of the produce section and find myself at the bacon section, which is connected to the cheese section, connected to the dairy section, connected to the hip bone, just kidding. . .As I look for the greek yogurt that has become my newest fetish, a man – who bears a striking resemblance to a homeless Wilford Brimley – steps out of my way so I can get a better look at the shelf. I look him in the eye and give a courteous smile. He smiles back. I figured that would be the end of our engagement.

Not quite a hunka-hunka-burnin'-love...

I was wrong.

I stroll down the 15 foot long wall of yogurt but have no luck in finding the Oikos Strawberry treat for which I yearn. Out of the corner of my eye I see the man I smiled at looking in my direction. I ignore it, after all, I once gave someone a dirty look before for doing that only to realize I made a fool out of myself because the person was only reading a sign behind me.

I linger a few seconds before taking a few steps in his direction. I see that as I took a few steps, he took a few steps and stopped. I take one more, he does the same. I pause, he pauses. If this were a tv skit, he’d be my reflection in a non-existent mirror. He looks back at me and I pretend to be intrigued by the bin of frozen fish parts. He lingers. I walk towards where he is but stick to the fish bin. He waits until we are side by side before continuing with his cart as if we are now going to start shopping together. I veer to the immediate left, leaving him stranded as I head back down towards the produce. Now, I would have actually kept shopping but this guy was completely freaking me out so I was now concentrating on just leaving.

The lineups for the cashiers were super long but I found a lineup with only four people ahead of me. I scanned the other lines and to my sheer horror, I see the weirdo as he joins the lane about three lines over. As I spotted him, he spotted me and immediately turned his cart and made a direct route to get behind me. I pretended not to notice. I was now second in line. I stared straight ahead but noticed he pulled up practically beside me. Rather than stay behind his cart, he saunters around to the side, about 3 feet away from me, and leans on his cart with one arm like he’s Tom Selleck and the cart is his Ferrari.

Why couldn't the weirdo look like this?

If it were summer instead of winter right now, I’d suspect he’d have a bushel of chest hair poking through his Hawaiian shirt and a gold chain around his neck. Believe me, this guy was no Tom Selleck and he was about as smooth as a monkey’s arse. I start reading the large print on the CoffeeMate bottle of the lady in front of me. This weirdo is now inching his way closer to me. 2 feet away. I look down and start reading the ingredients in the bacon I’m holding. 1 foot away. Here it comes…

“Well, another weekend is here.” he said. And at this point, I felt sorry for him. Was this the best line he had? I turned slightly to acknowledge him, afterall, he may not be a Tom Selleck or a George Clooney, but he’s still human.

“Yes, another weekend is here.” I said, and returned to my bacon. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of reading contained on the label … like details on two ways to cook bacon as well as handling instructions, ingredients, nutrition facts, chef’s tips, a phone number, website and a variety of interesting logos and seals.

“Just getting off work?” He asked.

I turned slightly again, “Yepppppp.” I replied, looking at him and then glancing at his cart. He had various items in his cart but one item was glaring at me. It sat perched on top of what looked like a container of seafood salad. It was a bonus sized big yellow box of Preparation H. Grrrreat.

“Big plans for the weekend?” he asks, then adds, “You sure eat healthy.”

Obviously he was referring to the romaine hearts, 3 tomatoes, 4 green peppers, cucumber, raspberries, 2 plums, and forgetting the slab of bacon I was clutching onto. “Yepppp, gotta eat healthy.” I said. This was really awkward, and what made it worse was that the CoffeeMate lady now turned and looked at the weirdo.  She looked at him, looked at me, looked back at him, and then turned around while shaking her head. I think she felt my pain. She was probably thrilled that she wasn’t me. For the first time in my life I wished I was a turnip, or that my sister was with me because she would have told him to get lost by now.

The CoffeeMate lady’s turn was up and she handed the cashier the exact change and was on her way. Thank god it was my turn. The cashier started pushing each item through with expertise. I watched as my items one by one started their ride on the second conveyor belt. She sang out my total and I paid with debit. I start putting my first item in the bag when I’m shocked at what happened next.

Suddenly the weirdo hauls out his stack of reusable bags and starts packing his own stuff as soon as the cashier scans them. Oh god no. He’s gonna try to leave at the same time as me now. He’s getting so fast at putting the items in that he takes a box of crackers right out of the cashier’s hand and she barks at him, “I haven’t even scanned that yet!”

Now he and I are in some sort of bizarre race. He was firing his items into his bags with such haste that his hand movements were blurry to me, all while I was struggling to get my plastic bags open. This was just like those nightmares where someone is chasing you and you can’t get your key in the door fast enough to escape. My heart was pounding and I was starting to sweat. The next thing to do was cry.

To someone in an adjacent lane watching this whole scene unfold, it must’ve looked like we were contestants in some sort of strange supermarket bag-packing game show. I imagined that somewhere in Japan there was an actual competition taking place just like this, probably scheduled for right after the Rubik’s cube speed challenge.

My eyes darted to look at the items he had left, then the items I had left. He was catching up quickly. I had two items, he had a few more. I fumbled with the two cartons of raspberries – almost spilling the contents – and frankly I was so panicked about getting out of there I would have left every one of the berries behind, destined to get smooshed into the conveyor belt when it went around the roller at the end – an event that would cause me great heartache any other day. Berries or no berries, I was getting out of there. I picked up the bacon and it slipped out of my hand. I felt like my hands weren’t cooperating with the demands my brain was telling them. Was I suddenly losing muscle control now? I picked it up again but it wouldn’t lay properly in the bag. Damn bacon. My heart was pounding harder now, my mouth was dry. If it didn’t lay properly this next time, it was getting left behind or getting hurled across the store. He was down to only a couple of items. My bangs fell into my eyes. I shook my head in hopes they would migrate to the top of my head. No time to stop now for a hair adjustment. I grabbed the handles of the bags and watched as the cashier slid his last item across the scanner.

“Have a good weekend!” I practically hollered to the cashier and walked with such a hurried step that surely I must’ve looked like I was running to a washroom somewhere. I got to my car and just got in so quickly, I didn’t take time to put the bags on the other seat or even in the back. No sir, I got in the car and sat down with the bags on top of me between my torso and the steering wheel. I turned the ignition and throw the car into reverse, only to see a man directly behind me in his car waiting to turn. I was stuck. And I was parked in the very first spot in front of the store. That meant that everyone looking out could see me in my car. Which meant the weirdo could probably also see me and knew exactly where I went.

The guy in the car behind me pulls out and I can finally reverse. I do, and practically squeal the tires as I make my exit into the lane that leads to the street. I check my rearview mirror and see that he just emerged from the store, looking both directions and I wonder if he was looking for me or not. Hopefully, he’s not secretly a genius – a member of MENSA – and figured out a way to find me again.

The kind of guys that looked at my sister...

During my drive home, I reflect about the incident recalling the whole thing. Life is funny. All my younger years when I went places with my sister men would oogle at her, stare at her, smile at her, wink at her, try to stand next to her and honestly, she could stop traffic. I used to wonder what that would be like. Suddenly I had a taste of it, except while she got longing gazes from real heart throbs, I got looks from brazen old guys with hemorrhoids. Great.

... the kind of guy that looks at me. 'Nuff said.

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