The other week I was doing some grocery shopping – hanging out with all the other cool kids who frequent Harris Teeter on a Thursday night. It was supposed to be quick. I knew what I needed; I had my list; I was prepared to be home in time to watch the new episode of Grey’s Anatomy. (It’s a guilty pleasure. Please.) And everything was going according to plan, right up until the little old man started chatting me up by the bananas.
“These are the best ones,” he told me, smiling and pointing at a particular bunch.
I laughed, humored him, and continued to pick out my fruit and veggies. And he continued to chat.
“You know,” he said, as if letting me in on a secret, “I just like to do that. Because people, they’re looking for someone who knows. They don’t want to have to think about what they’re buying. They want someone to tell them the right answer. And they’re so gullible!“
He kept going, “See, I can do this because I have no worries! I like to have a little fun in the grocery store!” I indulged him, smiling, agreeing that yes, people are gullible, etc. And then he finally introduced himself – as Bronco. After a few more minutes of idle chatter, we parted ways and he went on to another display. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him approach another girl at the display, and I knew he was giving more advice. Then I heard him say, “These are the best ones!“
And then, even better? “Liebchen! Look! I did it again!” Apparently, we had become co-conspirators in this little ruse.
Now, I’ve met my fair share of characters over the years. It would seem that I emit a please-talk-to-me vibe that people just pick up on. (Which is funny, considering BNB once told me that I came across as standoffish.) Whether it be on the metro, in a cab, standing in line at, well, anywhere, people feel the need to strike up conversation. It’s usually older gentlemen – usually, but not exclusively.
More often than not, I can extract myself easily enough, and I thought Harris Teeter would be no exception. Except, I continued to see Bronco in every. single. aisle I went down.
“Liebchen? Can you help me find the unsweetened applesauce?“
“Liebchen? Do you see flax seed anywhere? I like to sprinkle it on my cereal in the morning. It helps me go to the bathroom.“
Good to know, Bronco.
And finally, after everything, he gave me his card: “Call me if you want to play soccer at all [we'd been talking about how his granddaughter plays out in Virginia]. I’m like a papa for a lot of people in the area!“
Maybe another time.