Copyright © 2003
On my way from the airport to my apartment all I had to do was make a quick stop at my favorite Greek grocery for the bare essentials. It took an hour and I ended up with two jars of marinated artichokes, four different kinds of Greek olives, six kinds of cheese, a case of a wine called Fat Bastard, all kinds of crackers, and tons of other stuff I really didn't need but since I couldn't make up my mind which was best I just bought everything my hand touched and figured I could decide at home.
Luckily I remembered I also needed to get some gentleman's essential bedside companions with the sure and certain hope that I'd be using them. I had no idea what was on hand because I hadn't had occasion to be in that drawer for so long I was in some danger of finding my virginity. So I stopped at Albertson's where I could get decent greens as well. Shopping here didn't take very long; I knew exactly what I needed and where it was. Having negotiated the labyrinth of aisles at full speed without running over any children, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for not going overboard like I usually do. When I approached the checkout, I foolishly chose the shortest line again. I must be a slow learner cause I've done this so many times with the same disastrous result that any normal person would have changed tactics, but with the irrational hope of lottery player I was drawn like in a moth. The line creeps ahead in minute increments with progress interrupted by price checks, dented can exchanges, check approval, and some long discussion that couldn't possibly have mattered as much as me getting home and ironing a shirt.
Finally I get face to face with the culprit at the register, a peach-fuzz-faced fifteen-year-old. He comfortably handled my Romaine lettuce, two heads of broccoli, three bunches of celery, and six peppers -- two each: green, yellow, red -- but hesitated over the three tubes of K-Y jelly, four tubes of Albertson's personal lubricant (it doesn't spoil so I bought all they had), two three-packs of Fleet 4.5 oz pre-lubricated-tip disposables, and six dozen condoms. It wasn't like I got six dozen of the same thing. I wasn't that optimistic or energetic. They come in boxes of twelve and I got six different kinds. You don't always know in advance what you might want later so better safe than sorry.
Anyway, I'm so far beyond being embarrassed about that kind of thing that I was surprised to see him handling the stuff with only his fingertips the way some people hold dirty underwear and, of course, it wouldn't scan right so after his fifth attempt I took a box of condoms away from him and pressed them down on the scanner and swiped successfully. Then I passed all the other boxes as well.
At the same time that he was saying a very sincere "thank you” to me I was saying "I have a date” to him. I honestly believe he creamed in his pants. I mean if I had twitched and flushed and hesitated and needed to hold on to the counter and not been able to find the total key on the cash register like he did, that's what it would have meant for me. Maybe I shouldn't have taken the time to explain to him that the "Glow in the Darks” don't really make all that much light so you'd better know where you're going and how to get there before you start your approach. When he gave me my receipt and said, "Have a nice day,” I just bounced my eyebrows and grinned; he twitched again.
Anyway, when I finally got home and lugged in all this necessary and unnecessary trash I'd just bought, the phone started ringing and it was my pal Alan who is also my dating advisor and fashion consultant. He conducted a remote tour of my closet and picked out what I was going to wear. It only took about forty-five minutes. Then I had to iron the teal green silk shirt he'd selected for me cause it had way too many wrinkles. But even though I ironed it over and over on medium heat just like he told me to, the wrinkles wouldn't come out. So I just got a traditional Land's End white oxford cloth button down out and touched it up a bit and then I took a shower and shaved again in the shower and while I was shaving my face I was thinking that while the rest of my hair had been growing in nicely and was past the itchy point it still wasn't long enough to look at all natural and maybe I should just keep shaving but then I thought that would just take too long and then I'd be starting all over again and maybe he would think that being all smooth was just too silly so I didn't shave anymore.
When I got out of the shower I called Alan and told him about the shirt and he told me that I should never wear a white shirt to eat barbecue cause it would show everything I dropped on it and then he made some unpleasant remarks about my table manners and he told me to get my burgundy shirt and to learn how to iron. So I took my burgundy shirt and my cords downstairs to iron them cause I'd worn the cords once before and they were kinda wrinkly too. I put "Boys Say Go” on repeat and turned the volume up to combat zone level so I could get some work done. I thought I'd better get some snacky stuff ready so I opened two bottles of the Fat Bastard to breathe and took out the Brie and Emmental to soften and artistically arranged three kinds of crackers on a platter and cleaned and cut celery sticks and broccoli. I arranged the celery sticks in order of height and installed them in a short six-inch diameter cylindrical vase with the tallest in the center all surrounded by a sea of broccoli florets overlaid with slivers of red and yellow peppers and put the semi-chilled marinated artichoke hearts in a glass-lined silver bowl with cocktail forks and put out four yellow linen napkins and rewashed and dried six wine goblets making sure there were no water spots at all and dug up some candles and put them in holders which was no easy task cause the candle bases were bigger than the holders so I had to shave and melt them.
I just wanted to keep it simple. After all, he'd probably only be there for five minutes before we went to dinner.
By the time I'd finished ironing my shirt and pants I'd worked up a light sweat so I ran upstairs to take a cool shower. At six when I got out of the shower, I was perfectly on time. All I had to do was put away the now cool iron, ironing board, and extra shirts, then get dressed. No sweat. I'd be totally ready and totally chilled when Donald came at 6:30. I'd switch the CD from Depeche Mode to Mozart and all would be well in my little world. Donald would see me at my absolute best.
When I got downstairs the doorbell was ringing and I thought I'm not letting Alan in cause he's so hard to get rid of and I don't want him around when Donald gets here. But it wasn't Alan at the door; it was Donald all apologizing for being early but the traffic on the Causeway wasn't nearly as bad as he had thought it might be and my directions were so excellently detailed that he hadn't had to pause for even a second to know where or which way to turn and I'm standing there in just my raggy baggy sweatpants looking like a slob and the ironing board is up in the living room and shirts and pants are all over the place and I have to let him in cause it would be even dumber to tell him to drive around the block for half an hour while I try to get my home and myself presentable.
So I do ask him in and apologize for the mess and try to put the now cool iron and ironing board away as fast as possible but, of course, the ironing board that was always a little difficult to fold just absolutely won't collapse for me and Donald takes it away from me and folds it up and gives it back. Then I turn off the music and he asks me who the band was and he doesn't even know Depeche Mode! So I just tell him to pick out whatever music he wants and have some wine and cheese and stuff while I go upstairs to get dressed.
Then, when I get back downstairs, there on the kitchen counter, ready to be put away, always the next thing to be carried upstairs or placed strategically around my apartment wherever best concealed yet easily available, is the entire contents of the bag from Albertson's. The bag that didn't have the lettuce and celery and broccoli. So he's looking right at me when I pour myself a glass of wine and there's this big pile of sex stuff right beside the cheeses. I'm thinking it will look worse if I try to hide it while he's watching than if I just ignore it like everybody keeps a year's supply on the kitchen counter.
But it's like very hard to keep my eyes off the stuff.