We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important message: today’s post, at the request of Date #15, was supposed to contain dating advice for men but I’m going to have to hold off on that because something wonderful has happened.
I was standing in line just minding my own business when I saw him: cute guy, eleven o’clock. I suppose I wasn’t actually minding my own business; I was doing my usual nightclub recognizance routine, in which I scan the queue and attempt to “accidentally” make eye contact with as many men as possible. Over the years, I’ve learned to take advantage of the fact that my heels make me taller than most other women; I can zero in on the most eligible of bachelors, and when I make contact—eye contact, that is—I can make it look completely casual (“Well, fancy meeting you here, Mr. 6’ 3”, in this particular level of the stratosphere, which I also inhabit thanks to the fact that I’m almost 5’ 11” right now.)
I was not, however, wearing heels during this particular encounter. I was wearing a pair of old clogs, which are rather worse for the wear and scuffed across both toes thanks to my tap dancing tendencies. Nor was I wearing a particularly exciting “clubbing outfit;” just a pair of jeans and black turtleneck sweater from Primark that one of my old flat mates was going to throw away.
(For those of you who don’t know what Primark is, we’re going to go with the explanation that it’s an exclusive, totally high end shop in London and that it is therefore perfectly normal to salvage Primark sweaters from your ex-flat mate’s rubbish bin. For those you who do know what Primark is, let’s just say I’m really into recycling.)
Fortunately, the eligible bachelor in question didn’t seem to mind my lack of appropriate attire. He caught my eye and smiled. A few minutes later, I caught his eye and smiled. When he turned back to the front of the line, I seized the opportunity to give him a proper sizing up. Height: excellent (approximately 6’ 3”). T-shirt: nice (fitted). Jeans: good (semi-fitted). Shoes: fine (inconspicuous, actually). Hair: suspicious (concealed by baseball cap; bald perhaps?).
I narrowed my focus to his left hand—no sense worrying about premature baldness if he already had a wife to worry about his premature baldness for him—but lo and behold, to my great delight, his ring finger was empty. Completely naked. The good kind of naked. The not married kind of naked. Score!
There were six or seven people in line between us so conversation was out of the question but we kept turning and smiling, turning and smiling, like a couple of teenage morons on a tour boat in York. Fortunately, I’ve learned my lesson since York. You can’t just turn and smile, turn and smile for the rest of your life. You have to do something, before the love of your life leaves with his family and head’s off to Scotland or wherever it is that they’re headed. So I reached into my purse and fished around for my secret weapon: C. O. Bigelow’s Menthol Lip Tint.
When it comes to lip gloss, it’s all in the application. You have to make a huge production of it—a huge, sexy production of it— especially when the new love of your life is seven people ahead of you and you can’t, therefore, just say hello. But my lip gloss was missing.
How on earth could I have gone to a night club without my lip gloss? Oh right—because I wasn’t actually at a nightclub. I was in Marshall’s, hence the clogs, the jeans and the Primark sweater (come on now, did you really think that I, Kat Richter, would go clubbing in clogs? Puh-lease). It was three o’clock in the afternoon and I had just returned to South Philadelphia after my most recent suburban driving disaster (in which I attempted to find the Cherry Hill Mall and ended up halfway to the Turnpike before I realized I’d missed it the exit).
I wasn’t even wearing makeup, because I’d used up the last of my L’Oreal True Match Compact for last Thursday’s dinner with Date #9. The trip to Marshall’s was just a detour—I was actually on my way to Target to buy a new compact but thought I’d take a quick spin through the clearance racks— so there I was in my weekend duds, my blackheads exposed for the world to see, with an armload full of new clothes for work and nothing to show for myself but my debit card.
The cashier called the man to the register, completely oblivious to the obvious romance blossoming between us. I watched in silence as he stepped forward and placed his items on the counter. I bit my lip as he handed the cashier his credit card. I wracked my brains for some sort of diversion, some sort of plan— some way to stop him from leaving the store, getting into his car and driving off.
But without my lip gloss I was helpless.
He flashed me a huge grin as the cashier handed him his receipt but then slumped his shoulders in defeat; I was still stuck in line, hemmed in by at least half a dozen old ladies and aside from vaulting over the railings and chasing him into the parking lot there wasn’t anything I could do. And so I just I smiled one last time, shook my head and finally burst out laughing as all tragic Shakespearian heroines do (because really, what can be more tragic than meeting a handsome stranger in real life—in Marshall’s of all places—only to have him torn from your grasp before you’ve even learned his name?).
I resigned myself to the fact that I would never see him again. It wasn’t as if I had ever stood a chance of picking up a handsome stranger in Marshalls, certainly not in my scuffed up clogs and my hand-me-down Primark turtleneck. No. I would just go to Target, buy a new compact (better luck next time), and call it a day.
But then I paid for my things, stepped out into the parking lot and thought, what the hell? He could have waited for me. He could have misplaced his car keys. He could have miraculously incurred a flat tire during the last ten minutes. I was giving the lot one final nightclub scan, clinging to the hope that some great misfortune had befallen his car, when suddenly an old sedan pulled up beside me. It was him. “Hi” he mouthed through the windshield, and then, smiling once more, he rolled down his window—