Saturday, March 14, 2009

Weak-in-the-Knees at Walgreens

I can't remember the last time I thought I might swoon.

First off, who "swoons" anymore? Isn't this some archaic term once used to describe a Vivian Lee type meeting up with a Clark Gable? (Read: any female circa 1930-1950 encountering a hollywood star, or their returning war-hero husband.) What does it mean to "swoon"? "To sway, to buckle, to bend, to be overcome with emotion, desire, intrigue, and tip sideways?" I think, "Yes, Precisely!" As this is exactly what happened to me in Walgreens on Lake Street last Sunday.

I'm going about my business. It's after Mass and a social call, and I've got a "To Do" list that includes filling up the car with gas and replenishing some necessary toiletries and cleaning items for my 2338 Marshall Ave apartment. I leave my brunch counter at Longfellow Grille, and head, for the first time since my move to this neighborhood, to the Walgreens on Lake Street with my list in hand.

"Deodorant. Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Toilet Paper. Dry Cleaning Bags."

No sooner than I enter, do I notice the attractive person who inspires my swoon. (Melissa weak in the knees at Walgreens.)

Tall. Six foot three or four. Brown. African Brown. Sports jacket over collared shirt, pressed jeans, shiny black Italian leather shoes. Rimless glasses. Pretty.

But I am buying toilet bowl cleaner. So I work to orient myself with the aisles and take a step forward.

First Aisle: Deodorant. As I walk toward this section of the store, I realize the handsome man is coming my way. I pause, smile, he smiles back, and I make a gesture to let him pass in front of me. The next thing I know: we are standing side by side looking at anti-perspirants. I am aware of his height. Of his hands. Of his clean smell. And I think my knees may really give out. "What am I doing? Why am I here? What am I buying?" I am trying to focus. I read my list. Look at the items on the shelf. But all I can think of is how striking this man is next to me.
I wonder if he's single? Where is he from? What does he do? I wonder if he likes curry or Thai food? I examine brands of deodorant.
Shower Clean. Pure Rain. Powder Fresh. I wonder what he buys? I wonder if he is at all aware of me? I wonder what makes him sweat? I select the Powder Fresh and try to go about my business.

Next Item: Toilet Bowl Cleaner. I find this pretty easily, and in the space away from the attractive man, I realize I am breathing normally again. I realize I might be crazy. I am in a freaking Walgreens on Lake Street! I laugh quietly at myself and realize how fun it is to find someone handsome. I realize how long it's been, and
I say, "Thank you" to God for this moment and this feeling, and this pretty man, and I pick out a blue toilet bowl cleaner on sale.
I continue on.

Next item: Toilet Paper. I see a whole case on sale in the farthest aisle, but as I approach, I spot hot guy again. And I quake. I turn. I cannot purchase this paper. "Why can't this guy see me buying Toilet Tissue?" I don't know, perhaps I'm afraid of how real that all is. (That I use a bathroom?) I scan my list.

Dry Cleaning Bags! As I head toward aisle four, scanning the shelves for "Dryell" I realize I'm lost. Candles and gift bags are in front me. "Melissa, concentrate!" I say to myself. I try to see clearly, and now, before me, is him. He smiles. I cannot bear to be near him -- he's that handsome. I'm certain he'll read my thoughts. ( What if he reads my thoughts? )

I get out of aisle four, and take refuge in the paper products aisle. Scott Tissue Double rolls go into my cart. Now, to just get the dry cleaning bags and get to the check out lane.

But then I think, "Maybe this guy might think I'm attractive?"
Maybe it's not just me that's thinking about eating spicy food together, or how chili peppers might affect our bodies, or interact with our deodorant?
I walk gingerly to the front of the store, and then pause. Should I wait until he's up here, before I check out? I could hang out in film and batteries for a second. The "Melissa, you're crazy" voice kicks back in, and I proceed to pay for my items. The female clerk starts to ring up my stuff, and all of a sudden, he's behind me , another female customer separating us.

I scan for newspapers and ask the clerk if they sell the New York Times. She says, "no," gives me my grand total. As she processes my credit card, I look up, and he's staring right at me. We lock eyes. Smile at one another. It's like this woman between us is invisible. I want to melt.

And then the moment is done. I turn to gather my things, and try not to run out of the store.

He was looking at me. It feels obvious. But now what? Now I'm in a parking lot. Outside Walgreens on Lake Street. I unlock my car and take a look at my vehicle. The black CRV ashy grey, covered in Minnesota Winter Salt Sand. My "Catholics for Obama" sticker standing out in blue on the back windshield of my car. "Ah, isn't it funny how we might make first impressions?" I think.

I get into my vehicle, and the next I thing I know: he is next to me, getting into a shiny silver four door sporty thing, parked to the right of my car. Maybe a Chrysler, maybe a Mercedes. What do I know of cars?

And now it's obvious. We are looking at one another through our car windows, and I want to throw up. What can either of us do?

If I get out of my car, I'm really a crazy woman; if he would move to say something, he's a black man approaching a white woman on Lake Street.

What ensues is of interest in that curious, awkward, point-of-wondering, "what-next?" sort of curiosity I think we all hold.

I send my friend Matt a text from the parking lot of Walgreens. "I just locked eyes with a hot fellow in Walgreens. I can't remember the last time I got weak in the knees over a fellow."

I write this, and take hold of my "rational" Midwestern senses, and put my car in drive and depart.

Ten blocks away, heading east, wondering where I'll get gas, and if I'll ever see this fellow again, I get Matt's text message as a response. "Take him home with you!" I read his message and laugh, and then think, "Of course!" I am not that far away. I decide to flip a u-turn, and head back to see if he's still in the parking lot. As I'm rounding the corner, I catch the hot guy turning into a gas station across the street. I laugh. Again: Of course! Of course he's around! Of course he's pulling into this convenience store 45 feet from me.

I just need to pull across the intersection, and I'll be in the same space as him again! As I ease across Lake Street into the Super America, hot man pulls out and flips around, heading back West to where we came from.

I laugh again.

I fill up with gas, and contemplate the encounter.

I met a hot man in a place that specializes in maintaining well-being. We locked eyes. We smiled. He lit a fire in my belly and being. When I thought to follow him, he lead me to a place where I could refuel and continue moving forward.


For all of it, I say, "AMEN!"

And for my readers, I say, If you know this fellow, please send him back my way!!!

In love, stories, contemplation,


Sr. Mary Frances said...

Gable and Lee have nothing on YOU!!! I hope and pray that special one comes along for you one day....but you are so SPECIAL it's going to be a challenge...I cannot even imagine that ONE...

Sr. Mary Frances

By the way your presentation on "LOVE" WAS BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL...I used the quotes for prayer all week..Happy 3rd sunday...

Erin Cederlind said...

Ahhh, that weak in the knees feeling... I remember that well from meeting Jonathan. :)

If you see that man at Walgreens again, say HELLO!! :)

Sr. Jill said...

Falling in love! Falling in love in Spring! Yes!

April said...

Praise Jah! Spring is coming - bringing fields of men for you to swoon.

Emily said...

This is lovely. I like how you snuck your address in there. ;)


Brian G said...

Sometimes you just have to take a chance and risk looking foolish or desperate or lonely. How many times do we get that feeling? I don't get it a lot. Yes, there are people I think are attractive or lovely to look at, but someone who shifts something inside you? That's rare and worth taking a chance on. That's my two cents. Hope your paths cross again.

later, me

Nomi Nkomo said...

THAT SOUNDS AMAZING!!!!!!!! I would've stepped up or made conversation. I know! I know! No point for the shoulda-coulda-woulda talk!

There's something about a man that makes you swoon. It's all about them, really - The way he carries himself, the way he smells, the way he looks at you... WOW! I miss that feeling. I can't remember the last time a man made me swoon, made me feel like a woman. We like to fight it but there are some things that just make us what we are - women. One of them is a man who stands as such.

Anonymous said...

My Sweetest One...there is a man out there for you. It will happen soon. You are too precious and powerful not to be shared. I can feel you are getting closer! God how I love you!

Kat Reed said...

FANTASTIC, what a way to start my day, I love how you write…those moments are rare, and I only remember one time in my life that it happened…many many years ago…how FUN! Oh, I was thinking of you last nite, do you watch TV? I love this woman and she reminds me of you (not the way she looks, just her introspective take on life and her love for travel and other cultures) [The name of the program:] "Flying confessions of a free woman." [Link]:

Have a wonderful day reliving the memory of the delicious man…

Kat Reed

J T said...

I'll be on the look out for this hot man and if I see him I will deliver him to your doorstep. Next time you see him - or someone equally hot- take him home with you - or at least to a local spot for drinks and getting to know one another.

Judy Heneman Hornbacher said...

"Swoon is even older that Vivian and Clark. It is what you do when you wear a full corset cinched in and then try to even breathe!. You swooned in Walgreens on Lake? Good grief!"

Carol Tipoh said...

Hi Melissa, Welcome back.

Melissa you got me confused -- is this real or are you telling me a story? If this is for real we need to help you find this man. Reading your story made me think about the last time I felt weak-in-the-knees for somebody -- and girl, that hasn't been since high school! I hope I see you in church tomorrow lover-girl! lol.


Candance said...

Melissa, I enjoyed reading this story about pretty men and weak knees. I'm so happy to see that you are still writing.

thinking of you,

Maureen Dabula said...

This is interesting. I wish you meet him again.

Did you miss out on this opportunity?
You never miss out on opportunities!

Ha haha-
May God Bless you,
Aunt Mo

AB said...

You had me GRIPPED with anticipation all the way through this blog, Melissa!!!! I swooooooooooooned just reading it and felt all those same butterflies in my tummy. Meliss, if/when you run into this man again, you must talk to him. Are you going to start hanging out at Walgreens every day? And, did you ever end up buying toilet tissue? :)

Jill said...

After I moved to Chicago, and had a very bad blind date with a very nerdy brother of my "Father-What-a-Waste" hotty priest friend, I met Brendan. After our first, 5-hour dinner date, we did not share a good night kiss, but I did close the door and slide with my back against it all they way to the floor and say, "That is guy I want to marry." Week-in-the Knees, heart flutters, butterflies in the stomach - yes... all because we shared on note after meeting on the El Train...

Go back to Walgreens, Missy.

Stephanie R said...

This is NOT how I wanted this story to end Melissa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want my money back!!!!!!!

Ibe Kaba said...

Next time take the exchange of smiles a step further...just hi, how are you doing? And the rest will follow.
Thanks for a great story!


Sr. Rafael Tilton said...

Dear Melissa,

I think this is a poem. Let me just put down with a few line breaks and see where it leads.

Parking Lot Specialty

I met
a hot man
We locked eyes. We smiled. He
lit a fire in my belly and

When I
thought to follow
him, he led me to a place
where I could refuel with well-

HA! Just as I thought! A two-part cinquaine. It's suitably ambiguous, of course. Or un-suitably???

P.S. I specialize in found poetry.
Peace and all good.