I’m dropping my drawers again this week, this time with a challenge from the lovely ladies over at The Red Dress Club. The meme – Write a short piece of fiction about seeing an ex in the grocery store from the first person point-of-view. Instead of writing from the female perspective, we want you to write from the male perspective.
Piece of cake? No. No not really. Go easy on me please. I’ve got five hours until we pull out of the driveway for vacation, and I still haven’t packed a bag.
Christ, I feel like a virgin on his wedding night. Which is an odd sensation really, since I’ve never had a wedding night, and my virtue is long gone, thanks to a Florida State Sigma Chi/Theta mixer some 20 years ago. Nothing like hot-n-heavy freshman mating.
Her name was Rebecca, all long legs and crazy-curl hair, and I was hooked. So when she casually informed me four months into our “thing” that she was heading home for the summer to shop for an engagement ring, I was crushed like an empty beer can to the forehead. Turns out, her high school sweetheart, currently wrapping up his junior year at Alabama, was ready to make an honest woman out of her.
I remember being in my dorm room, watching her locate the wind shorts she had tossed into the corner some 25 minutes earlier, listening to her babble on and on, and on, about how much I would like him, and how he’s this great guy, and, oh yeah, how I’m a great guy and this has been a blast, but I’m just not, like, you know, “the one.” Still friends though? Cool? Because, you know, once the ring goes on, the wind shorts won’t be coming off again. Sorry.
And because I’m such a puss, we did remain friends. I even went to the wedding that next summer and begrudgingly congratulated the groom in the receiving line. I also congratulated myself for not dipping back the bride and really planting one on her. Instead, I kissed her cheek, and said good luck and goodbye.
Yet now, here I sit, in the Publix parking lot, wondering how Seagrove’s Finest might define “stalking.” Google and Classmates.com are legit, right? So what if I never use my Facebook account for anything other than reading what she’s up to? Who cares that I had to “friend” nine other people just to complete our degree of separation? It’s not like I have a wife and 2.3 kids at home wondering why Daddy’s always on the computer in the middle of the night, right? A demanding career made sure of that.
I could blame Jenn. After all, she sent me the newspaper link outlining the most ironic of stories – Birmingham’s hottest divorce attorney getting a nasty divorce of his own thanks to a paralegal catching him in a compromising position with one of the junior associates. Named Josh.
The title of the e-mail was “Go For It!” Gotta love enabling baby sisters.
God, did I put on deodorant?
With one last look in the rearview mirror ensuring removal of all toilet paper pieces, I climb out of my climate-controlled comfort and into the heavy Florida air. I make my way around abandoned carts and screaming families to the store’s sliding doors; the same doors through which, just a few short minutes earlier, I had watched a more womanly formed Rebecca enter. I was happy to see that she still had those legs though. And that, even in her drive to get away from it all, she still found the need to update her Facebook status. According to that, I should be able to locate her either picking up boiled shrimp in the fish department or looking for martini olives on the condiment aisle.
Still my kind of girl.
I grab a basket and make my way to produce, trying to avoid eye contact with an approaching apron-clad young man, but you just can’t dodge Southern Hospitality.
“May I help you find something, sir?”
Yeah, my balls would be nice.
“No thanks, I’m all set.”
I grab a couple of limes, eventually getting the damn plastic bag open, and throw them in my basket. I’ll be needing those later for the gin and tonics if this doesn’t go well.
I wander over to the deli section, and casually look down to the back of the store. No Rebecca getting shrimp, so I grab some hot dogs. Great excuse for locating mustard.
As I enter aisle #4, my pits start sweating overtime as I see Rebecca deciding between a jar of Early Californias and some overpriced store brand. Lucky for me, the mustard selection is right behind her. I have a knocking-the-bottle-of-the-shelf scenario playing out in my head, when she turns to face me.
Please recognize me.
“Oh my God! Micheal? Yes?”
She never hesitates as she reaches for a hug.
“What are you doing here?!” she says.
She’s still beautiful.
“I’m in town reviewing renovation sketches for a Seaside client.” I left out the part about moving up the meeting by three weeks.
“Wow, so you did become an architect. That’s great.”
“Yep. I have a small firm out of Mobile. What are you doing here?”
She gives me a smirk and says “It’s a long story. Hey, do you have plans for dinner? I’d love to catch up.”
“Well, I’m supposed to meet my clients, but I can do that tomorrow night, I guess.” Smooth.
“Great, I could really use a friend right now.”
She grabs my arm, and drags me to the checkout line.