Because I felt like living large on a Friday night, I stopped at Trader Joe's on my way home. (I know, how is my life so exciting?!) Having drooled over the circular they'd sent in the mail last week, I knew exactly what I wanted. Some supplies for Mother's Day french toast, as well as potstickers, dried mango strips, and a PB&J chocolate bar. Starting the weekend right. Woo!
But as I clutched my heavy cream and brioche rolls, examining packages of organic strawberries, a voice cut into my consciousness. "Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you, those are some awesome shoes." I looked up from my strawberry-perusing, and standing beside me was a neatly dressed twenty-something smiling at me good-naturedly. "All you're missing is a leather jacket to go with them." I thanked him and told him I'd left the jacket in the car.
He starts asking me all these questions, just making conversation, like where was I from and what did I do? I told him about chicken zoning in Scituate, and Trader Joe's New England presence, and doing play therapy part-time, and where I got my sandals, and before I knew it our quick exchange morphed into a legitimate conversation. I mentioned I was going abroad to teach English and his countenance seemed to shift a bit. "Oh, when are you leaving?" he asked. I told him July and he smiled. "Too bad, I was going to ask you out to coffee."
At this point I became acutely aware of all the shoppers around me, and the fact that I had been monopolizing the strawberry display. Wait, what? Is this real life?! In my head there was no presence of awkwardness, I just played it off all cool, "Aw, that's flattering, thank you. Good to meet you." But did it actually go down sans-awkwardness? Who knows. We shook hands and exchanged names, and he wished me good luck on my travels, and I said . . . "You too!"
Two things struck me about this encounter. For one, I felt very young. I tried to hint perhaps I was too young, by alluding to living in my parents' home and being an undergrad, as in, "Don't you feel creepy for hitting on someone so much younger than you?" And then it occurred to me, I'm almost twenty-two. That's actually not that young. And he couldn't've been more than 27. That's actually not that old. All at once I felt ushered in to part of the twenty-something fold.
For another, is this a thing, chatting up strangers in the supermarket? Is this socially acceptable? You know nothing about me except that I'm wearing steampunk sandals and shopping at Trader Joe's, but you feel this is enough of a basis to see what comes from a conversation? As in, "You endorse the values and novelty of this business model, so we at least already have that in common." Sure, I've begun to gather that it's harder to meet new people once out of college, but it never occurred to me that the supermarket might be a place to look.
The upside of talking to strangers? Sometimes they give you an ego boost. Free of charge.