Friday, January 20, 2006

Grocery Carts, Aussies and Reality

Several days ago I found myself wandering around Whole Foods. No list, no plan, no idea. I didn't know why I stopped there or what I needed. Milk? Maybe. Eggs? Okay. Bread? Why not. Really though, I didn't need any of that. I guess I could have just left but something told me if I drove all the way across town, walked around for 30 minutes and sampled everything I could get my hands on, I should really buy something.

Finally, I settled on frozen food. Vegetables to be exact. I reasoned that I could use these any time so they wouldn't go to waste in three days.

I was standing in front of the freezer doors, trying to make up my mind. Always trying to make up my mind. I settled on broccoli, peas and carrots. I now had an armful of frozen veggies and was headed for the checkout. I swear, I have no idea how the following chain of events occured. I turned a corner, fell off the side of my own shoe (in case you missed that, yes! off the side of my own shoe!) came hip to metal with the shopping cart of a stranger and half-toppled over the edge of his cart. He caught my elbow which, subsequently, caused the frozen goods to go flying. My hair flipped over my cheek hiding my face and I was thankful- at least this stranger couldn't see me, yet.

After recovering from the tumble as ungracefully as possible, reuniting my foot with my shoe (damn slip-on crap) and gathering my food, I looked up. I swear right now, if my ankle weren't throbbing in pain I would have been absolutely convinced that the crash ended my life and I was in heaven. The face I saw when I looked up looked right back at me with the bluest eyes in the world. I'm talking poetic blue here kids.

"I'm so sorry about that," he said, and I melted. Not only was I seeing everything in blue and embarassed beyond belief, but now my socks were near charmed off by the Australian accent. Holy crap, if this is heaven, no problem. I can deal with the throbbing ankle.

"No, no. It's my fault. I wasn't paying attention, I was just... I don't know... I'm..."

"Don't apologize, doll." Doll?

OK, I won't apologize, Mr. Aussie McDreamy.

Still completely enamored but utterly embarassed I apologize again anyway, begin to move away and tell him to have a wonderful evening. We catch one another's gaze for a few seconds, say nothing and I turn toward the checkout counter.

I have small talk with the cashier, buy my veggies and carry them out to my car, leaving some of my pride inside the store. As I opened the back door of the car to throw my groceries in, my work bag comes tumbling out and since I'm too lazy to zip it at the end of the day, so do about three dozen documents and folders I'd brought home. So, exasperated, I started laughing at myself and gathering everything into a pile.

"Need a hand, love?" Holy crap. Don't tell me. No. Don't turn around. It's not him. You're imagining. But I wasn't, I slowly turned around, still bent to the ground, and looked up at the very same face from the store.

"Oh, no thank you," I said, "I've got it."

"Looks like you're having a bad day?"

"Um, yeah, it does look that way, doesn't it?" Eventhough I really wanted to say, hell no, as long as you keep showing up, I'll be a clutz as much as possible.

"But I'm sure you'll go home to a nice hot meal and a drink," he said.

Was I hearing right? Did he just round-about-way ask me what I was going home to? I'll admit, I was so friggin' charmed by the accent again that I couldn't really reason with myself. But this has happened before. I've heard it has a purpose. Is it international? Do Australians pick people up the same way American's do? Well, polite Americans anyway.

"Umm, no, actually I'm going home to my dog and work. But close enough," I joke.

"Anyway I can convince you to have a hot meal and drink instead?" Dear God, this isn't happening. "I mean, it looks like you need it and with the kind of day you're having, doll, what have you got to lose?" Again with the "doll".

Crap, he was right. What did I have to lose?

"Why not," I say, feeling like I'm having an out-of-body experience.

And so we gathered paper, threw it in the car and walked across the parking lot to the nearest restaurant. I wasn't sure if I was actually losing my mind or just had yet to regain consciousness from the grocery cart stumble earlier. Dreaming? Likely.

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