I think I was stood up last night. It’s hard to say on a first date that I did confirm more than a little late in the day. I had good intentions of honouring the invite I simply don't see the need to confirm and reconfirm, I never have. It’s a facebook messenger date, but a fellow science geek, an old University buddy. He had long been reserved in my files as a fun guy to hang with once over the not so fun guy ex. So we hadn’t got to first base real phone numbers yet, not that I would have answered or confirmed dinner plans any earlier, at least we can both blame wifi signals now. But I still haven’t checked my messenger after confirming 730pm yesterday, so my confidence levels are clearly still in limbo. I sense a need to archive him.
In any event last night, a Monday, it transpired that I was included in my new housemates dinner plans and the vibe was getting increasingly tense in the kitchen. I had minutes earlier been frog marched out of the area and told to stay the fuck out. I took it very well as kitchen disruptors during cooking are one of my leading pet hates too, the usually couch fixated ex came close to actual physical harm for insisting on loading and unloading the dishwasher on the rare times I cooked for us and I am not a violent person.
So last night I wore the abuse, and happily smoked a menthol outside and craved a beer I am not allowed to have.
The door slid open in a move that unsettles his usually unflappable cat, fast asleep on the outdoor patio daybed.
“Where are my carrots? I had carrots right here in the....” Angry little man face starts to glow.
“M-o-u-l-d-y. I had to throw them out.” I interject maybe a tad too triumphantly, glad to get one over his bacteria phobe ways. The smile refuses to leave my smug lips.
“So are you off to the shops?”
Looks like I am despite having no need for the venture apart from to replace the festy carrots. I feel like telling him that produce sweats in those prepacked plastic bags hence the mould on the underbase but I know better for a slow learner. He offers to get some coin but I am already out the door, I am often broke but never that broke and he knows by now I always pay my way somehow.
I don’t pay for these meal offerings as such but I do throw out a couple myself in return, just not to his gourmet pie pastry making standards, I prefer not to eat unless it's healthy so this won't be changing anytime soon.
I do replace food items as used including cleaning products. But the carrots had been swept up in a fridge sting that he insisted on the day prior, making me throw out some peaches that were fine for me, all the way lecturing me on bin techniques and the dangers of rotting food.. The food arrangement has been swinging to my benefit in a love hate fashion if the scales and tighter clothes are to be believed but I do clean a lot for my standards, at least four hours a week as part of the deal, despite being self contained in the granny flat I have rented.
Plus I want some carrot control here, I have my pride after all and I don’t do prepacked unless it is solely a salad base. And my gut instinct tells me he wants to pay only in order to send me to the Asian late night supermarket near Coles for the prepacked carrots and that place is reminiscent of Ikea on a Sunday, it simply can’t be done in my present mind set. I’ve been up and active since 530am. If I had eaten the carrots I may have had a different mind set. I need a life.
I set off to walk the short distance to Coles, it’s not yet dark.
Inside the Coles foyer enters directly into the fruit and veggie section but I don’t locate the carrots immediately, it takes a circuit or two. Nothing unusual here. I’m dressed in stand up denial gear. Ugh boots, thick hemp tracksuit pants, really rocking the bogan chick look and perfectly suited to the new suburbs demographics. I fit in and everything is under control.
Taking care to select the right carrots of similar size with no cracks or fibres, I reflect on how many to get. Too few more a crime than too many I decid. I carefully select six large carrots before I thought to grab a freezer bag, but deftly managed a smooth one handed pull down of the freezer bag roll. So far so good. That could have ended poorly with freezer bags bowled down the aisle and the metal rod spinning out of control. Pull it together I mentally berate myself.
Opening the seized freezer bag was another matter entirely. All my go to tricks such as wet lips and gently blowing, and frenzied finger friction had failed dismally. This was all the while still walking around in a circuit loop with carrots balancing in my right arm, and the unrelenting freezer bag being attacked in my left. Moronic.It will end up over my head if I am not cafeful.
Slightly moistening and blowing on the freezer bag always works it has never failed with two hands but I need to face reality and stop in my tracks, it’s too far to double back for a basket, I am a complete tool. Feeling conspicuous and more than slightly abashed I end up having to put the carrots down in the loose peanut section before dropping them all over the floor. Fast forward to old people skidding over, trolleys being wheel braced by carrots and those village idiot rage stares I collect like tokens.
A Mother with her head adorned in an open faced silk scarf, wheeling a pram with a 5-6yo daughter walking beside approached in my left side peripheral view but I focus on loading the carrots without adding peanuts to the mix.
Seriously hard work, it doesn’t have to be this complicated I reflect at the same as life coaching myself. “Youve got this. Everything is fine. Next time do it better.”
They stop with the pram and the young Mother doesn’t seem to be looking for peanuts but maybe that was her intention had I not been hogging the entire section. She may also have been taking a call, but it was none of my business I had work to do. So, in any event the Mother’s focus was over her right hand shoulder while the little girl ended up alongside peering up at me like the idiot I am.
I knew it was on the tip of her tongue to ask why I was picking carrots out of the peanut barrels that now seemed on a precarious downwards slope and she was well within her rights to do so. The pram was now almost wedging me in and I squeezed in as close to the peanuts as I could trying to activate a hypothetical invisible mode. Certainly using my disconnection skills to an advantage and not rushing under the child’s scrutiny.
I knew these carrots wanted to roll and don’t think a few dozen peanut shells would have been exempt and not snowballed for dazzling special effects. Humiliating myself like this is an individual default setting, I need new software. Guaranteed I’d be treading on peanuts in my ugh boots, blushing, stammering looking high or drunk and left with annoyed Coles staff trying to weigh up the crushed peanuts I would insist on paying for. I’ve not done or said anything stupid in this store yet, it’s my new cherished local, but it’s still early day’s give it time.
Actually who am I kidding there have been numerous self service glitches at the payment end, but hey it’s self service and it’s me, they get it and I have promised the self service lady a favourable customer review which I will actually do once I delete my old Coles complaint rantish tweets.
Greatly boosting my new supermarket image is that I have also been scanning a new, or unused until now Coles rewards key chip, it looks better, staff really rate it, everyone smiles and I still get my electronic scanning beep buzz when paying cash. Hopefully they won’t find out it’s registered to my now unemployed ex and his name is on the card but not keychip. Caltex same deal, same smiles, win win, I am falsely rewarded and I love it.
Back in the peanut section I thank God quite seriously for my stylish small leather backpack, for once in my life it is actually perched on both shoulders and closed up as designed, instead of slung over one shoulder carelessly gaping open. My centre core of gravity would have landed or swung the backpack in dangerous proximity of the loose peanut section and always being slung over my left shoulder this potentially could have wiped out the little girl standing to just above my left elbow. I do have considerable ambidextrous ability for a klutz, but primarily I favour and prefer a right handed approach.
Suddenly there is a tickling sensation on my left thigh that increases at a rapid and alarming rate. Initially I hope it’s an accidental brush up by a stranger or an opportunistic but unprovable hit and run, but this amps up as a full predator like sting. Thankfully the action remained mid thigh not creeping in or up but most alarming was the bug eyed girl witnessing it and now pulling on her Mother’s arm earnestly. I knew it had to be someone with this group and not a random, as no stranger would dare get so close to a pram and act so appallingly at the same time. Well only a textbook psychopath and I somehow just knew this wasn’t the case.
So a pimply faced brother or husband doubling back from the meat section had to be the finger puppet instigator I reasoned. It’s pretty tapped out and I struggle to rationalise. Who does this in front of a Sister or Daughter? What actual type of creep has such audacity and gall. I acted nonchalant for the sake of the little girl, sure kid this happens all the time, totally normal, no biggie.
I had successfully resisted doing the 360 degree spin to confront the tickler as was my first survival instinct. It seemed to go on forever and I made definite plans to take this up in the next aisle more discreetly and stealthily. My death stare should be ample. I needed to profile this guy for future avoidance.
Finally the Mother threw her attention back our way, I think it was a phone related distraction if the mobile had been held to her right ear but I can’t be entirely sure. In a perfectly calm and non rushed glide the pram was slowly pushed on. I invite whiplash and rubberneck to my right to identify the grocery store groper.
There was no man or teenager, it was all the Baby. Arms and head still out of the pram looking to his rear left so now facing me in reverse and totally uproarious with laughter. I swear he was fist pumping the air as he tucked himself back in and was wheeled away with his Sister avidly talking to their blissful and serene Mum.