She giggled with delight. Spending her down time reading the exciting and sometimes illicit posts found in the “missed connections” corner of Craigslist had become a favorite of the distractions since she had discovered that quiet walls had become just another of the unintended and unexpected results of her recent divorce. The most common of these near misses of cupid’s sweet arrow would happen around the deli counter of the grocery store she just so happened to frequent so incredibly often. Hands grazing in pursuit of the last tub of tuna salad, or unexpected gazes while ordering their sliced pig of slaughter. There are reasons they say at times that we are not to meet, that destiny has bigger plans in store. Perhaps the issues are political, purposeful, or just another playful jest in the mischievous amusement shared as the sisters of fate pass on their eye.
This Tuesday was no different than any other as the young divorcee reached for the “I’m single banner”, or as others would refer to it, the handheld red basket. No need to be constantly mocked by the bare and vacant crater of a pushing cart when you are shopping for one.
Eyes on the display of fresh peaches the cold shock of the small metal wires on her fingertips was interrupted by a warm rough sensation brushing her hand. She looked down to find that another hand had made the same reach for this particular red basket. Hanging in from the adjacent doors a man of similar age was holding a tight grip. His focus, which was on the produce, turned to the blunder. His tie shimmered in the light as he made a lively bounce back with his hands in the air, almost as if this young woman’s graze was infected the touch of Midas. In the same moment the girl was placing her hand behind her back, offering her apology, offering her hand to the basket.
This was no glorious moment of boy meets girl, there was no spark of magic or idea of love, instead it was as commonplace as bumping into a complete stranger on the street. The muttered apology was lost somewhere between the shuffle of his stride and her second attempt at a basket.
Filling the faux woven container with the basic necessities she seemed to bump into her same stranger once more at the deli, both grabbing for the same cheese. This time she took note of the tiny inconsistencies in his masculine and manicured hands, he was doing the best he could on his own. She wanted to let out one of those cute 90’s rom-com giggles she grew up watching. Okay okay, she still found herself secretly indulging in these cheesy cliché tales of fanciful will they-won’t they over pints of her favorite mustard potato salad. But she didn’t giggle; this was not a rom-com this was grocery shopping on a Tuesday.
They crossed paths again in the dry foods aisle, he grabbed ramen and she reached for the Kraft Mac & Cheese. He stole a moment to glance at her, his jaw line softly defined, and his eyes a piercing blue. As soon as she realized she had been studying him further she looked down in hopes that he did not think her some loon who would be describing his perfectly structured features later that night on Missed Connections. She did though begin to wonder what he did for a living that made him dress in such a professional manner? Then noting the way her own professional attire fell on her string bean figure she wondered if he maybe had pondered the same.
She grabbed a new tub of potato salad and he grabbed hot wings in the cold foods freezers. Their dance down the aisles were like opposing winds beautifully swirling to the same rhythmic pace throughout their shopping adventure.
Upon checking out, the lines were long. She looked up and noticed him standing two places back on register four. He seemed to smile kindly upon noticing her glance. Flustered she looked to see that at register 6 she too stood two customers back, and they slowly, silently made their way forward as the brimming carts seemed to slowly deflate their spewing contents.
After exchanging their money for the goods they made their way out, plastic bags hanging from their arms. Though this is where she assumed they would part ways it turned out that they both parked on the same lane and the long silent walk seemed to become a bit awkward. Their cars were parked directly across the aisle form one another, and they both, in silence, made their way to their appropriate vehicle, unloading their delicious loot of various sundries.
He turned and smiled her way and offered a notion as if he was going to say, hey. In that same moment she returned that smile, her intended voice paused hanging in the balance waiting for him. But he paused, and her eyes shifted in the sudden change of tone. That’s when she saw it, just over his shoulder was a sticker clung to his rear truck window, the script of it fun and playful, but the words it read evolved her interest from bliss to disgust. Texas Aggies, her face shifted and mangled. At that same moment he paused from his notion, over her shoulder a rear window cling read Texas Tech Alumni, and his face too fell into a disgusted furrow. This was not fate, this was just Tuesday.
In the same unison they had choreographed through out the store they turned their backs to one another, climbed in their car, and without a moments hesitation took their turns pulling out of their spots. They drove in line to the same exit, stopped directly beside one another but without taking so much as a glance at the other. When it was time they both shot out onto FM 528, she turning left, and he turning right, never to cross paths again.