Late thirties, early forties. About six foot. Dark, curly hair. Nice looking. He was just standing there, with his hands in his pockets. Staring at all the boxes of cereal. Like he was in a museum, admiring the art.
I glanced at his cart. Empty. Strange, I thought. Cereal’s in the middle of the store. Nobody comes just for cereal. You’d think he’d at least have a head of lettuce in there. Or a bag of those little carrots. Or an apple or two. Produce is right where you come in. Who doesn’t pick up something fresh?
Sure, I was intrigued. Wouldn’t you be? I had to stick around and watch him for a bit. There we were. Me, looking at him. Him looking at cereal boxes. I became so engrossed I forgot I wanted a box of oatmeal.
My imagination went wild.
Maybe he wanted to steal cereal and I interrupted him. He was waiting for me to get lost.
Maybe he and his girlfriend just broke up. He’s thinking about how it always used to drive him insane when she ate cereal, out of the box, in bed. He hated the crumbs. She’d laugh and keep eating. Eventually he’d laugh, too; and she’d pass him the box. He’s bummed. Missing her. Remembering.
Maybe he’s a package designer, looking for inspiration.
Maybe he’s just there to pick up chicks. He didn’t score in dairy or bakery, so he’s giving cereal a shot. Maybe he’ll go back to produce, if this doesn’t work.
Maybe it’s time I got on with my shopping.
Suddenly I noticed another woman. Looking at both of us like we were lunatics. I wanted almond butter, so I high-tailed it out of there, before she called Security.
Stupid me. I’d been craving almond butter for two weeks. Not the stuff in jars. The kind you grind, fresh, yourself. Much better. I’d been in that damn store at least five times. Yeah, and each time I forgot the flippin’ almond butter.
Not this time.
Headed over there. Would you believe it? No almonds in the damn machine! So I’m just standing there, staring at the empty grinder. Glaring, really. Shaking my head. Then I cracked up. Because I reminded myself of the guy in the cereal aisle. I was doing the same thing. Made me feel like a total nut job.
HaHa! NUT job. Get it? Nut job. Never mind.
Can’t stay there forever. Wishful thinking’s not going to get me the almond butter. Time to move on. Yoghurt. Tilapia. Halibut. Eggs. Guacamole, they have the best. Coconut water. Regular water. Vitamins. I’m ready to go. Not without checking on my friend, one last time, though. Gotta see if he’s still standing there.
Then, as I’m rounding the corner, I see a tall, pretty, slightly disheveled brunette, with two young kids. She was headed straight for Cereal Man. Glancing at his watch, he looked up. And started moving toward her.
“Hey, Maddie” he said. “What’s up? What are you doing here?”