My family used to get sandwiches every Friday from this one deli in Lafayette. I finally got my license when I was 17 and this meant every Friday I became the chauffeur of sandwiches. Every Friday I'd go in and see my deli man behind the counter. Dark hair, thick eyelashes, deep gaze. Italian and cool looking. Yeah, I'll buy your meat. He didn't make the sandwiches though, he sold the slabs. Slab of beef, Slab of what's that, Slab of pickled This, Slab of corned That. So I always saw him, but never actually spoke to him. I know he saw me too. Every Friday for a couple of years. I looked forward to it, I saw him smile and looking forward to it too when those automatic doors let me inside. I'd order the sandwiches from someone else, but I'd be looking at him. He'd be looking at me too.
Of the many times I did this he actually came out from behind the deli counter once which made me think of when the wizard of Oz is revealed to be only but a man. He was shorter than I thought but still pretty damn cute. I'm also shyer than I thought so when he did come out I actually redirected my shopping cart and pretended to be invested in finding an ingredient. Oh my god you wiener says my thoughts. Shut up my defensive self says back. I guess he didn't take my awkward reaction personally though because the next Friday we are staring at each other again. Someday I'll know his name. He will know mine. Give it a couple years-say when I'm like...20. More confidence than when I was 17, more experience, more style, more expectations, more of an idea of what I want-but not very much. I'd been away at school for awhile in a city where my deli man didn't work so when I came home for the summer, I was ready to pick up some sandwiches. I pause in my car before going in. Just say hi to him! I counseled myself in the car. Today's the day. It's been like 3 years. But what if it's like one of those things that is just better kept as an exciting, distant, flirtation? You know, like that friend you always thought was kinda cute and might be a good kisser, but nothing has ever happened because lust doesn't always translate into the future. What if- Shut up my defensive self says again. Go say hi, you wuss.
Defensive me ironically is a bully too. So I select a cart, go in, and get straight to ordering sandwiches. He sees me. We see each other. Same old staring game trying to hide little passing smiles. While I wait for sandwiches I shop around and think of how I'm going to say hi. I think so much about it that I don't even realize I've picked up the sandwiches and paid for everything and left. Shit! Now how are you going to say hi? I pack everything into the trunk and then come up with what I think is a wonderful excuse to go back inside. I need to buy a Red Bull. Oh yeah, I forgot...So I go buy one. Yep that's all I go back to buy. I take a sip hoping I will get "wings" of confidence. Then I walk up to his counter. There's an old couple in front of me. Another deli man asks if he can help me and I awkwardly shake my head no and point to my deli man. I think he might have seen me do that. He quickly helps the old couple and then *finally* we are face to face. This is what I say with a shaky voice: "Hi, um I don't really need to buy anything, I've just always seen you here and I think you're really cute, so, I just wanted to tell you that. Um, yeah."
He smirks and says "Yeah I've always thought you were cute too." I smile and try to keep eye contact. Alright...so...Well uh can I get your number then?"
Yes! I write it on a napkin and smile like a lunatic when I get inside my car. He waits for the designated guy code of days (3) to call me. We talk for a long time. It's a fun conversation. What you like, what I like. Do you know who I know? Where'd you go to school? How old are you? Crazy that we're talking now. I'm excited about all of this of course. I tell my brother the story but when I tell him my deli man's name he instantly frowns. My brother recalls going to school with my deli man. Deli man was a dick to him and many others apparently. Well I'm kind of used to going out with dicks so I shrug it off. But we had such a good conversation! He's so cute! Maybe he's changed. People can change a lot in a few years. Yeah or maybe you should have just left it as it was-an attraction every Friday. Shut up.
So I gave him a chance. He called me a few times and then after a few phone conversations I asked when we would hang out. He said we would soon and I was ready to, but it just wouldn't happen. He kept calling me though so I didn't understand. I started to get frustrated and he could tell. "Hey I just want you to know I think you're a sweetheart, and kind of a nerd, but I've kind of been seeing someone so that's why we haven't hung out yet. But she's not really someone I'm that into so" I cut him off here because I don't need to hear anymore and now I'm just pissed. "What the fuck, why'd you even get my number then? Why have we been talking?"
"Whoa, don't get so mad."
"Well that's unfair to that girl, you should just end it if you're doing shit like that."
"Who are you, the relationship police?"
Then I tell him exactly what I think of him with a string of swear words in there so he will take back about what he said about me being a nerd sweetheart and I hang up on him. I realize I got way more angry than I should have but at this point in my life I'm extremely frustrated by the bullshit of dating. I can't just say the bullshit of men because women have their very own brand of bullshit.
I'm pissed because my gut was right, but defensive self says At least you tried. How would you have known? Maybe later in life you would have been pissed that you never were bold enough to say hi to that deli guy. This scenario does not dictate your results for the future.
So I keep trying to find someone special to say hi to. I fail some more. I have fun and get hurt. I walk away, but I come back.
A few years later I go get sandwiches and bring my exceptionally sexy boyfriend who I happen to be crazy about and happens to be crazy about me with me. I swear it's not to smite deli man, my family just still loves these sandwiches and deli man man still happens to work there. He looks irritated and I wonder for a quick second if I'm being rude with all my public displays of affection with my boyfriend but then I look over at deli man and think Who are you, the relationship police?