I hate shopping for groceries, especially:
1. The old people who act surprised that they actually have to pay, and rummage through their purse for their checkbook.
2. And who can't figure out how to use the card swipers.
3. The checkers who get into long, involved conversations with their friends.
4. And who let their friends cut in line.
So I have a system: I go only on Tuesday mornings around 10:00 am (no old people, and the checkers' friends haven't arrived yet), and I go only to the Food Co-Op, which is much less crowded, and doesn't take coupons. Besides, it stocks fresh fruit and vegetables you can't get anywhere else, like jicama and carambola,
But today I need some things that can't wait until Tuesday -- mouthwash, bananas, protein bars, a can of cream of broccoli soup, that sort of thing -- and I'm too busy to drive all the way out to the Food Co-Op. So I take a deep breath, grit my teeth, and go to the Hy-Vee. On a Saturday afternoon.
It's packed, of course. but I'm an expert at choosing the shortest line -- only five people, no full shopping carts, no one elderly. And the checker....
The most beautiful guy I have ever seen -- or at least, the most beautiful guy since the highway rest stop in Iowa last summer. A glimpse of supreme beauty in a supermarket on the Plains.
In his 20s, about my height, rather slim, but with a dreamy teen idol face. Sharp, classic features, dark eyebrows, a dazzling smile.
I feel a little shaky. Even at age 50-something, supreme beauty makes me weak in the knees.
I watch him work, gazing at his face and hands, glancing down to see if he has a physique or a bulge, grinning like a teenager at a boy band concert, strategizing how to ask him out.
Get ahold of yourself! This is a supermarket. He's 30 years younger than you, probably underaged, and probably straight! Besides, he's busy. You can't cruise a guy at work.
Now there's only one person ahead of me, a middle-aged lady who fishes around in her big purse for her small purse, pulls out a check book, and laboriously writes a check, including the memo line, then records the amount in her ledger. Ordinarily I'd be fuming.
He sees me watching, mistakes my gaze for impatience, and says "It will just be a minute, sir."
I'm tongue-tied. He's so stunning, I can't think! This must be what the ancients felt when Zeus or Apollo appeared before them.
His nameplate says Zack: Assistant Manager.
"Um...um...no problem, Zack...I'm in no hurry. I've got nowhere to go this afternoon except the gym. It's chest and shoulders day." I unzip my leather jacket. Underneath I'm wearing a blue sweater that accents my pecs.
He turns to my items while the bag boy is still bagging the middle-aged lady's stuff, and flashes that smile again.
"Bananas and cream of broccoli soup! I'd like to see the recipe that calls for those."
I laugh. "I'll invite you over to sample it."
Get ahold of yourself! This is a supermarket checkout line, not a gay bar! Besides, do I really want to see him naked, his thin chest bare, his small penis aroused? Perfection becomes imperfect very quickly in the cold light of the bedroom
"Any coupons today?"
Even his voice is dreamy! I glance up and down, checking for a bulge. "Um...no."
"What? I've never been here before. You'll have to explain that to me."
"It's a super-saver card that gets you..um...gas and stuff. I can sign you up in a few minutes. I just need your email address or phone number."
My heart races. Zack wants my phone number! Then reason kicks in: no, he doesn't. He wants to sign me up for a card.
"Ok, your total is $21.06."
I pull out my wallet and fumble around for my debit card. "So, assistant manager. Why do they have you on checkout?"
"You can't have been here that long. What are you, 25?"
"23," Zack says. "But thanks for the compliment."
I hand him my debit card. He shows me how to put it into the chip reader, and hands it back It doesn't work the first couple of times.
He's going to think I'm some geezer who doesn't know technology.
I get it to work. He grins. "Success!"
"Not yet." Why did I say that? Was it a pick up line? A pretty lame one.
"Paper or plastic?"
"Um...paper please. I try to be environmentally conscious."
Ask him out!
"Me, too." Zack hands me the receipt. Our hands touch. Our eyes meet.
Ask him out!
"Do you need help getting this stuff to your car?" Zack asks.
Does he think I'm an invalid? I bench press 300 pounds! Ok, so I won't ask him out.
"Have a nice day, sir."
"Thanks, Zack. You, too."
I grab my bag and walk away, feeling a bit shaky.
I should have asked him out! But he was working! Besides, supreme beauty should stay ethereal, unsullied by the real world.
Maybe he'll be working again tomorrow...
No, he's an assistant manager, usually in the back...this was my one chance.
Feeling decidedly nauseous, I turn back. The twenty steps to Zack's check-out lane seem to take forever. It's like walking through molasses.
The face of supreme beauty is busy with another customer. He looks at me and frowns.
"Did you forget something, sir?"
"Yeah...um...the banana and cream of broccoli soup recipe...I promised to invite you over to sample it....um...here's my card. Text me."
Still frowning, he snatches it from my hand and puts it into his front pocket. "Thanks."
I turn away and walk slowly out of the store, to my car, where I sit for a few minutes, fuming.
I made a complete fool of myself. No way I'm ever setting foot in Hy-Vee again! What was I thinking, trying to pick up a checker in a grocery store?
Twenty minutes later, I'm just pulling into the gym parking lot. My cell phone buzzes.
The most beautiful guy in the world is coming over for dinner Monday tonight!
Now I just need to find a recipe calling for bananas and cream of broccoli soup.
Next: What Happened on My Date with the Grocery Boy
See also: A Glimpse of Supreme Beauty at a Highway Rest Stop; My Date with Jack the Vacuum Cleaner