I stepped into Target last week for some basic necessities: paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags and the like… but while I was there, I also found a simple and suitable unpadded bra (I hate the padded ones!) and a few cool pairs of socks (one featuring cacti, for my best friend Charlie, and another donning bunny rabbits, each of them pictured mid-hop). After snagging the most perfect, rose-pink, three-ring binder for my new cover collection, I meandered over to a nearby register to check out. A young strawberry blonde with thick glasses stood readily behind it.
And as she rang up my items, she chatted incessantly, so I didn’t notice what she was scanning when she asked: “Oooooooh… have you tried these?”
I looked down at the items to her left, the ones that had just been scanned: aluminum foil, socks, greeting cards and sanitary napkins.
“Uhhhhhhhh… tried what? I’m sorry,” I said, lost. I wish, now, that I would have just picked something with my mind and offered some general, positive comment about it.
“These,” she said, lifting the box of pads into the air and then waving it around. Like a flag. Returning to that moment, I still can’t believe that she did it.
I looked around and then answered (quietly): “Oh — those! Those! No, no… I uh… hate getting them, so I usually buy like five months’ worth at a time, and uh, these weren’t here the last time I came, so they’re new, probably…”
“Huh! I wonder if they’re good? I’ve seen a couple of people buy them.”
Good? I thought to myself. Good how?!
“Yeah — I’m not sure. They’re chlorine-free, you know… chemical-free and what-have-you… natural…” my voice tapered off and I swallowed. When it was time to pay up, I swiped my REDcard faster than a bolt of lightning can strike and then hightailed it on outta there.
When I finally got to my car, I laughed about it. But I mean… really? How are they? Their sole purpose is to soak up blood, lady… so I really don’t know how to gauge the goodness of them, other than in terms of their effectiveness or comfort or what the brand does to better the world, which is, I guess, what you were wondering about. But of all things — to ask me about them.
Now, if I’d purchased something more conversation-neutral, like a fine box of Annie’s cheddar bunnies or a nice little stack of animal-themed greeting cards (which I DID buy), we could have got on quite nicely…
Sooooooooo, my main point: Awkwardly interesting conversations follow weird questions. Like this one.
“This might sound like a really crazy idea,” she warned, bracing me for it, “but have you ever thought about trying one of those dating apps?”
I sighed. This was last night – Friday evening – and I was driving home from work… and in light of the source, I honestly couldn’t believe that I’d heard the person correctly.
“Dating apps, mother?”
“Yeah! You know…”
I smiled at my steering wheel and the long line of shining red cars parked ahead of mine.
“Ohhhh!” she grumbled, in a way that implied that she’d already known my answer. “Why not, Rose? You’re so BUSY — all you ever do is go to cafes and work and school… how will you ever find someone? Other people, who are busy like you, probably use these things! Why not give it a shot?”
“Because whether or not they choose to ask you out on a date depends upon your PICTURE. That’s why. That picture – your exterior – determines whether or not they’re interested in you, and I absolutely refuse to date someone who is that superficial.” Although, even in real life, that is the first test we run a prospect through, isn’t it? We look at them and think to ourselves: Hmmmm… brown eyes, brown hair, and a confidently relaxed mannerism paired with a not-too-arrogant gait… could I enjoy kissing them? Would I feel proud to walk alongside them, hand-in-hand? And then we proceed to wonder what other people would think about this new, hypothetical us, imagining them answering questions like: Do you think they go well together? Is one of them too pretty or smart or rich for the other? Do they look nice in this trying-too-hard-to-be-nontraditional-and-effortless engagement photo, or is she way too fucking tall for him?
“Yeah, but I’m sure they would read about you, too,” she argued into the phone. “You would have a profile where you could put interesting things about yourself… and I think that you can narrow your search down, too!” she added brightly. “That way, you can find people who like the same things you do — like writing, and music, and traveling…”
Halfway wondering how much time she’d already spent researching the subject, I shook my head (although the idea of typing in very specific filters like Indian and dancer and loves German Shepherds and enjoys picnics at the park was oddly tempting). “It’s just too orchestrated, Sierra. I want to meet this person naturally… within my 3D life, and in a way that’s organic.” Like my new pads, I thought. “So I will not resort to a dating app until I’m at least 30.” Which gives you four years, I reminded myself casually, and then shuddered.
She sighed. “Well you know,” she continued, unabashed, “if you’re looking to find a really DECENT person, there IS a place you could go to in-person…”
Now, it was my turn to sigh. “No, mother. I’m not going back to church.”
And that was that.
And then, she texted me early this morning, asking: “Did u ever hear from DMV guy?”
No period, exclamation mark, anything. And in case you didn’t know, “Loser” hits with triple the impact when it’s written without punctuation. Oh Sierra. I truly love the heck out of you.
Still here (with a host of self-identifying Buddhist pads and no dating apps or losers),
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