Trader Joes.That bastion of affordable wasabi peas, almond milk and hemp oil. That innovator of quality ingredients for everyday low prices. That hire-er of a potpourri of gorgeous men tricked out in Reyn Spooner Hawaiian Hula Luau shirts who flirt with me. (Not the shirt, the men.)I was voted Biggest Flirt in high school.
Not much has changed. I'm a rampant flirt.
I flirt with a yellow lab named Zygous (his human parents are biologists), a fat cat named Soda Pop just one block down, the ladies in my book club (frequently pinching their bottoms, which seems creepy in print), two gay muscle-bound 50-something male twins who frequent my coffee shop where they eat egg whites and dry chicken breasts. I even flirt with my own husband. And not just when I want stuff.
But I try very hard NOT to flirt with attractive men who might think I'm serious. Because my powers of flirtation could spin the world off its axis. Yes, it's a burden.
So when I enter Trader Joes I take these precautions:
I deflate my breasts, grow a chin hair, preferably black, and eat spinach in order to leave green deposits between each tooth.
It just doesn't help.
There's Nils of the flashing white teeth, indiscriminate dimples and steel-hewn calves, who always seems to be stocking the nut aisle. "Can I help you?" issues from his lips like an invitation to a Swedish Swingers club hosted in an ice hotel serving Vodka in your belly button.
Then there's Laird with the Lisp. "Hey Thannon, wath up with you? How are your kidth, the huthband?" all the while resting his hand on my waist, on particularly sordid Sundays, it slips to my right hip bone.
There's the burly parking lot guard Samuel, a gentle giant who insists on loading my bags into my car even when I only have one, telling me I'm "one beautiful woman" and he even likes the way "the wind blows (my) hair." Samuel makes me feel both flattered and a little bit afraid.
There's Mike at the coffee stand asking if I'd like a delicious tongue-full of French Roast. Walter who helps me find the most grape-fruity Sauvignon blanc and offers to hold my grapefruits. And Hector who delicately hands me my buns (the wheat hot dog ones).
But I'm implacable. I offer no witty repartee, my smile never reaches my eyes, my hands do not sweat... at least not until I enter the check-out line and see... Fernando. Argentinian-born, American-raised. Like a fine veal chop.
Sweet mother of God, those dark curls, those cerulean pools of wonder. (His eyes. Henry they're not as blue as yours. How could they be?).
I will not look directly into Fernando's eyes for fear of being razed to a pile of drifty sediment. I will not flirt! I'm a married woman who will only end up breaking his heart when it goes no further than the Trader Joes sliding exit doors.
And even if I weren't married, he's somewhere in his 20s. I'm too old for him. He would be intimidated by my mastery in the fine arts of love. I'd ruin him for every other woman after me, because inevitably their callow youth simply couldn't compete with well-aged intellectual prowess. Also, I'd be the George Clooney to his Stacy Keibler.
I withstand his compliments. "What a gorgeous smile you have." "Why are all the best ones married?" and the coup d'état, "You have such piercing eyes!"
Compliments about the eyes are the most valuable as the eyes are the windows to the soul. Which means I have a piercing soul. But, as Spiderman once said, with great power comes great responsibility.
Does this mean I must forever quit Trader Joes? Why won't these men just let me alone? Will I have to go back to clipping coupons and shopping at that pedestrian peddler of everything corn syrup named Ralphs? Fernando even gives me a nickname, La Sirena, which in Spanish means The Siren.
Wikipedia: "In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were dangerous and beautiful creatures, portrayed as femme fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island."
There you have it. My desirability could be deadly for those Trader Joes men. They might shipwreck their fork lifts on an island of quinoa in the stock room.
Monday night I went to my book club, comprised of The Brit, Tango 5/6, The Czechoslovakian and The Baker. We got together to discuss the merits of not reading books anymore, rather just drinking pinot grigio and tequila shooters from now on.
It was the Shades of Grey series that pushed us over the edge. Who has the time to read a trashy book you can't put down that lowers you hard-earned IQ by 50 points and makes you feel like your orgasms should compete in the Special Olympics?
My Trader Joes flirtation woes were getting the better of me and I needed my friends to affirm my choice to buy my groceries elsewhere and to pity me for being such an irresistible femme fatal. I began by mentioning the handsy Laird.
"You mean Laird with the Lisp?" asked the Brit. "That man can't keep his hands off of me! They could dust for his fingerprints all over me arse!"
"Lasth week Laird with the Lithp thomehow managed to fondle my knee," said Tango 5/6.
"He ith short," said the Baker.
Huh. Apparently I'm not Laird's only prey. Well. Fine. Now I can tell him to keep his hands off and know he won't perish from unfulfilled Shannon Lustfire.
"And don't even get me started on Nils," said the Czech. She perfectly mimics Nils' accented English. "'Did you find everything you need? Like my eyes on your breasts?'"
"I don't dare bend over to get the turkey chipotle hot dogs when Nils is around or I'm likely to end up with a bun in the bin," says the Brit.
Nils too? Then it's revealed Mike has given them all tastes of his Chilean Roast, Walter has introduced each one of them to his finest vintages and Hector has offered to barbecue his grassfed beef over the heat emanating from their hot butter biscuit booties.
Well! Who needs Nils, Laird, Mike, Walter and Hector when one has Fernando? A man with impeccable taste. A one-woman flirt ...
"And then there's that Fernando," says Tango 5/6. "He's the worst!"
A chorus of agreement from the ladies.
There must be a mistake. There must be more than one Fernando working at Trader Joes! "You can't be referring to the Fernando who is tall, with black curls and those blue, blue eyes?" I say.
"That's the one!" says the Czech.
"'What a gorgeous smile you have," says the Brit, her ability for mimicry becoming quite annoying.
"'Why is it all of the good ones are married?" says the Czech, not sounding Argentinian at all!
"Are those the only compliments Fenando gave you?" I query the group.
To a woman they stop and think, coming up with nothing. I knew it! Fernando saved his most flattering compliment for me. I lavish them with my most confident gaze.
"Hey," says The Baker, "Could you please stop staring at us ... with those piercing eyes?"
Quiet. Listen now. You can hear the sad sound of my ego's last. dying. breath. Fernando. How could you?