Let me preface this post by saying that you’ll be reading some stuff that may be hard to stomach because it’s a bit personal (and because some of it’s just gross—see the monster at the end), but if it’s too difficult to handle turn back now. Because only three or four people read this, I don’t have to worry about too much backlash. I’ve come to grips that this is just me and that I’m not alone in the world with this feeling or having these ‘experiences.’ Also, this post is more for my sake of needing to rant (hence the unabridged, super lengthiness of what is about to follow…) so don’t blame me if you grow tired/uninterested halfway through.
Wednesday morning I woke up feeling a bit like poo…similar to the day before. But I got up and went to work like a good employee, not really thinking about how I felt. (I’ll admit I’m not a morning person and my brain doesn’t fully function at 5:30 a.m until coffee is entered into the equation.) There was a bus fire in the HOV lane that day but I never saw it—I only got the added benefits from it by getting to sleep an extra 20 minutes on the commute into town from the traffic. Hmm…guess I shouldn’t say “added benefits” as someone might have been hurt. We’ll just assume everyone was evacuated safely and move along with the story. I get to work and tell my boss I’m scheduling a doctors appointment that afternoon to see what was up with me. I’ll spare you the details of my condition, but know that I was rockin’ a pretty sexy, deep voice as a result of it (a la Phoebe in the episode of Friends when she sings “Smelly Cat” with a cold).
Turns out I have bronchitis with ear infections in both ears. What twenty-something year old gets ear infections? I didn’t feel any pain there, but the doctor said they were definitely infected. Gross. Either way, I’m contagious and this meant days away from the office. Sounds sweet, right? Sick days to do whatever I wanted! Wrong. I ended up working probably 9 hours on Thursday from home via work laptop connection. I wanted to work out at the gym, but had no energy and would’ve gotten others sick. So I finished up season 4 of Weeds and went to bed. Woke up early Friday morning and did more work from bed. I’m telling you, this is not how I wanted to spend my sick days off. I wanted to sleep and sleep and then when I woke up, go back to sleep!
Needless to say, by Friday afternoon I was slightly stir-crazy. As great as they are, you can only stream so many episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix before you start to get
bed futon sores. So selfishly I set out for a quiet evening on the town at some unfortunate book store. Armed with a handmade Starbucks double-shot (not the tiny 8 oz canned version; the handmade ones are better and you get more for your buck—they’re not on the menu anymore but the baristas will make you one if you ask nicely with a smile ;), I made my way to Borders to peruse some magazine pieces…as well as contaminate the ‘hood with my doting bronchitis. This month’s Rolling Stone has some good stuff in it; Lady Gaga interview and the article that forced the former U.S. General McChrystal to resign for making derogatory comments about our commander-in-chief, et al. I’m not making any statements by saying I read those two pieces—I’m just saying they were entertaining and informative.
Afterwards I made my way over to HEB, my favorite grocery store in the area (second only to Whole Foods). I’d been jamming out to some Vampire Weekend Contra, so walking through the store I’m singing the oh-OH-oh-OH chorus part of “Diplomat’s Son.” If you’ve heard this song, you know it has a indie-pop little bounce to it. It reminds me of the west coast, which is odd considering these guys are from New York, I think. If you’ve never heard of these guys’ music and you’re a fan of a modern-day Paul Simon sound (or even if you’re not…), they’re definitely worth checking out. They’ll be in Houston the first week of October if you want to see them live. Anyways, back to the indie-pop bounce of the song…it was causing me to walk with the same rhythm and skip in my step. I’m sure it was amusing if you were watching, but I was off in la-la land. I looked like a vagrant—jeans tattered with holes, an undershirt and driver’s cap (flat cap/newsboy cap/ivy cap/whatever) to cover up the matted bed-head hair. I haven’t shaved or trimmed the beard in days. Obviously my condition had affected the part of the brain that says: “hey bum, you’re going out in public—look respectable!”
I pass through the juice aisle and see a cute girl checking out the selection. I pass by her and take note. Do I say something witty and cavalier like “Impressive, isn’t it?” Nope. Do I say anything at all? No, I pass right on behind her with my mini-cart filled with next week’s lunch and hoard of dark chocolate pudding. Sometimes when I don’t make a shopping list, I just go up and down every aisle and look at everything until something catches my eye and reminds me that I need it. This can be a great technique if administered appropriately, but usually just yields $100+ grocery sprees. What was great about it tonight, was my figure-8’s of the grocery store aisles were causing me to intersect the cute juice girl’s path. We would exchange glances and small, innocent smiles when we’d bust each other looking and then move along to the next aisle…like it was a game or a dance that insects do during
mating courting season before the deed is done courting takes place.
But then the sad part of the story comes into play: we ran out of aisles to pass each other on. I never saw her again…and I didn’t go looking for her for fear of looking like a creep-stalker. Did I choose the longest line of all the checkout lines in hopes of stalling a bit and running into her again? You betcha. Did I see her again? Would I be writing this terribly sad post if I had?
This is where the post gets a little hard to stomach. You know those guys on television or in the movies that are awkwardly shy around the opposite sex? The ones that make you cringe when you watch their inelegant handling of women? I’m thinking Steve Carell as Michael Scott in The Office. Ben Stiller as Greg Focker in the Meet The Parents movies. Michael Cera as…well every roll he’s ever played. (Man—poor guy has definitely been type-casted a lot.) That’s me. Not always. I’m okay most of the time. But there are times, like tonight, when I’m a bumbling idiot displaying my amateur ranking with no apprehension. I should’ve said something, like a simple “hi” but didn’t. Why? I don’t know—it plagues me once every few months when I actually see a girl that tickles my fancy.
I know I’m not the only one that struggles through the ordeal of figuring out possible clever/cute things to say to a pretty girl. And they’re only human after all, like me…right? Plus this girl was actually smiling back and obviously doing this crazy figure-8 aisle dance with me; a guy who looked like a bum. I probably could’ve said anything, even clumsily, and still been okay. What am I scared of? Was I brought up to be scared of failure? I don’t want to be scared of failure—it’s a part of life. An integral one. It’s a part of life everyone needs to experience to be whole, humble, human.
Sidebar: It scares me that society has shifted to the point where all kids get trophies now…no matter what place their little league team actually placed. Kids need to realize that if you get last, you get nothing. Maybe a pat on the back and say “Better luck next time.” But they need this lesson to learn that life isn’t fair and that you have to work hard for what you want. If you want to be the best, get out there and earn it. You’re not going to graduate college and then be magically presented with a job because everyone gets one. Only the best get a job (or “trophy,” c’mon…keep up with the metaphor)! Okay, end of tangent.
If not intimidated by the thought of failure, then what? Was I just being polite by not getting close enough to infect her with my illness? Pffft! What am I, a leper? No. Was I just being polite by not hitting on her while she was grocery shopping? Maybe she gets hit on all the time and doesn’t want to be bothered. Maybe she never gets hit on and she would’ve liked that I said hi…
See—does this banter not make you feel uncomfortable? Like you’re watching Michael Scott or Greg Focker? It’s painful. I’m sure you can’t find a comfortable way to sit while reading this…like you empathize with the guy but still don’t like to see it. This is when misery no longer loves company. No one wants a part of this.
And it never fails: when this joyous occasion happens to me or my brother (read: strong sarcasm), we always immediately call the other and ask why this happens to us. WHY?! we exclaim, as if the other has all the answers. I guess it’s rhetorical for us and more therapeutic to ask another than to toss the idea around in your own head where you already know you don’t have the answer. We don’t want to play the victim, but it’s as if we have no control over it.
You have to keep your head high though. Have faith that one day things will work out and you’ll meet that special someone when the time is right. Then you’ll never have to worry about those silly supermarket encounters again. You’ll just walk by the lady, remember how awesome your girl is back home, and move along past the juice selection. So I think I just remedied my worries: forget about tonight’s possible missed shot…someone great is still in my path, we just haven’t crossed yet.
For being such a great listener and actually following along to this point, I’m offering up a contest. Correctly identify this absurd stick bug that was found in the kitchen sink tonight after I unloaded the groceries and I’ll buy you lunch next week (when I’m healthy again! horray):
Don’t worry, bug-lovers. This duo was safely transported back outside and not harmed in the process. I have no clue how it actually got inside though. So to be eligible for the free lunch, the first one to leave the correct answer as a comment on this post wins! Good luck peeps. Update: This is not a baby and parent, but rather a male and a female involved in a procreative act. My apologies to my underage readers for posting such a lewd picture!