I don’t have low self-esteem when it comes to looks. Not that I roll out of bed looking like a bombshell but three hours of hair and make-up can do wonders, and my husband does a pretty good job of making me feel attractive and desirable whenever I don’t feel like undergoing three hours of hair and make-up, which is most days. Let’s just say I’m secure about my hotness. But it’s still surprising when someone who is not my husband notices how hot I am. Surprising, unexpected, and kinda hilarious and awesome at the same time.
It’s one thing to spend hours getting all dolled up, slipping on a new dress and heels, and dousing yourself with expensive perfume for a fancy dinner date. You expect compliments, you expect to be wooed. But you don’t expect to get hit on after working out and sweating profusely for an hour and then heading straight to the grocery store in yoga pants and flip flops. I needed a few groceries after kickboxing class, and the last thing I expected was to encounter an admirer at the cash register. At first I thought he was just being chatty like some annoyingly friendly cashiers are. It began innocently enough.
“How is your day going so far?”
“Oh fine, thanks. And you?”
“Well, I just started my shift. So I have the rest of my work day ahead of me. But I’m having a GREAT day.”
Okay, whatever buddy. Just make sure you ring up my parsley with the sale discount and not at full price.
He then asked to see my ID because I was buying booze, and I had a split second of anxiety as I mentally strategized how to reveal the minimum amount of information during this transaction. Just a few days earlier, I had finally gone to the DMV to exchange my Nevada driver’s license for a Colorado one. The lawyer in me is ashamed that it took over two years to do this when technically it should have been done within 30 days of becoming a Colorado resident. But seriously, who has time to go to the DMV after having just relocated from another state to start a job in a new city? Especially when your old driver’s license doesn’t expire until 2017? I justified putting it off until we bought a house, because I didn’t want to get a new license with the address of our apartment rental and then have to update the address when we moved. Makes perfect sense, right? Except I continued to procrastinate for several more months after we moved into our purchased home. Because I’m lazy. And anti-social. Especially at the grocery store, because I just want to get my shit and get out of there without having to explain my whole history with the DMV and getting into all of my character flaws. The cashier was already too chatty for my taste, and I prayed that he’d accept my explanation for having a temporary ID without asking too many questions.
“I moved recently and had to get a new ID. The DMV issued this temporary one to use until they send me my permanent one in a few weeks.” Please don’t ask where I moved from or how long ago I moved. Please don’t.
“Oh, where did you move from?”
“Oh, that’s so cool!” That’s what everyone says before launching into a boring story about that time they went to Vegas. Which is exactly what the cashier proceeded to do. He went on and on about how he had once gone to Vegas with an ID that didn’t have his picture, so the nightclubs wouldn’t let him in, but it was cool because he did his “own thing.” I listened distractedly as I fished around in my purse looking for my loyalty rewards card, still hoping he wouldn’t ask how long ago I moved because I’m a terrible liar but at the same time didn’t want to explain why it took over two years to get a new license.
“So how long ago did you move to Colorado?”
“Ummm, a few months ago? I should have gotten my license earlier but didn’t get around to it.”
“Well, if you ever need a personal tour guide, I would love to show you around.”
“Oh! Well —” I looked at his name tag, “Thanks, Jason.”
“Really, I would love to take you around if there’s anywhere you want to go. But you’ve probably been everywhere in Denver. Have you?”
“Ummm, yeah, pretty much…”
“Have you been to Elitch’s?”
I wanted to burst out laughing. Elitch Gardens was an amusement park located downtown, formerly branded as a Six Flags theme park. For the first time I took a good look at Jason’s face. Who was this strange creature who’d propose the local amusement park as a first date? He was definitely young, no more than mid-twenties, with fleshy cheeks and eyeglasses. He looked like he played video games, or maybe watched people playing video games on YouTube. I hear that’s a thing among Millennials. There was something so endearing about his boyishness that I didn’t have the heart to shut him down. Ordinarily I’d mention my husband and kids as a defensive tactic, but for some reason I didn’t feel like treating him harshly. My instinct was to mother him.
I wanted to grab him by the shoulders, look intently into his eyes, cup his chubby cheeks between my palms and say, “Look, baby boy, you’re cute and you have so much to offer. You have your whole life ahead of you. What’s wrong with you? I’m not judging you for working as a cashier at King Soopers. I’m sure there’s some perfectly good explanation. But I have to question your decision-making abilities when you hit on a woman whose hair is sticking out in all directions. You’ve seen my ID. You know I was born in the seventies. I’m practically middle-aged. With two elementary school-aged children. And a husband who supports me so I can go to kickboxing and yoga. And you see what’s in my cart. I’m buying 8 bottles of rosé and an obscene amount of cheese. You don’t want to get mixed up with this. Find a nice girl. Do something with your life.”
I wanted to say those things, but all I said was, “Yeah, I’ve been to Elitch’s.” Omitting the fact that I had been there with my husband and kids.
“Well, I mean it Emily, if I can ever show you around, I would love to,” Jason repeated, handing me a receipt with one hand while putting his other hand on his heart.
“Thanks, I really appreciate that.” And I really did. I pushed my cart away, feeling his eyes follow me. I turned back to see him staring at me with a goofy grin. I wanted to scold him, “Your next customer is waiting to be rung up!” But I just giggled like a teenager as I exited the store.
Thank you, Jason, for making an old lady smile.