So there I am, standing on the curb in the parking lot at Marshalls in my scuffed up clogs. The cute guy I’ve been staring at for the past ten minutes has just pulled up beside me, rolled down his window and said, “Hello.”
“Hi!” I reply a little too anxiously, but then I remember that I’ve already been on fifteen first dates. I can handle this, calmly and collectedly, like a proper serial dater. I lean over, attempting to achieve maximum cleavage in my Primark hand-me-down, but instead I nearly crash my head on the roof of his car.
He just grins and says, “I figured I should stop and say ‘hello’ since we spent all that time smiling at each other.”
“Yes!” I exclaim. I can’t believe my luck. So what if I got lost on my way to the mall? So what if I wasted twenty minutes of my afternoon trying to find a place to turn around? My navigational skills (or lack thereof) might have cost me the new sweater I’d intended to buy at New York and Company but they sent me straight into the arms of (or rather the side view mirror of) this fine young—yikes!
A car whizzes past.
It is only then that I realize I’m standing in the middle of the road.
“Maybe I’ll just go around to the other side,” I explain.
“Yes,” he agrees, shifting his car into park.
I dash around to the passenger’s side window with such speed and precision that you’d think I’d been training for Chinese fire drills all my life—but really it’s just the result of my intense dating regimen. I’m so used to dodging potholes, cobblestones and puddles at this point that dodging traffic in the Marshalls parking lot is child’s play.
But without the benefit of a Match.com dossier, I don’t really know where to start. And neither, it seems, does my eligible bachelor in the Phillies baseball cap.
“Where are you headed?” he finally asks. “Can I offer you a lift to your car?”
“No thanks,” I reply, “I’m just going to Target.”
“I’ll drive you there if you want,” he offers.
I pause to consider the matter. Target is just across the parking lot. It would take me approximately 45 seconds to walk there directly, and he is, despite all the smiling, still a complete stranger. My better judgment is telling me “Do NOT get in the car with this man! He could be a serial killer! He could have been just pretending to shop in Marshalls. He could have cinder blocks and a trash bag stuffed in the trunk. Heck, he could have a body stuffed in the trunk!”
But he’s not terribly smooth, and I know from watching Criminal Intent that serial killers are usually quite smooth. Additionally, the offer to drive me to Target does not seem to be premeditated, merely the most logical way to prolong our conversation since there aren’t any bars or coffee shops in this particular strip mall parking lot. Plus, he has both windows of his car wide open now, so I could just tuck and roll if I had to, and there are approximately eighty billion pedestrians ambling through the parking lot with approximately eighty billion shopping carts. If he was to abduct me and attempt to make a run for it, there would be witnesses, and obstacles. I would totally escape.
“Sure,” I say at last. “Thanks.”
He reaches over to open the door and I must say I am rather impressed with his car. For starters, he doesn’t have to clean off the front seat for me because it’s already clear. There’s a bit of debris in the back seat but it’s the right amount of debris—neither disgusting nor OCD.
We make small talk all the way to Target, interrupting each other in our frenzied attempts to fill in the blanks (“What do you do?” “Where are you from?” “Do you live in South Philly?” “Did you grow up in the area?”). He somehow manages to stretch the 45-second walk into a 90-second drive and finally says, “So, I don’t want to make this awkward but would you like to go out some time?”
“That would be great,” I reply. “Let me give you my number.”
I whip out my business card, grateful that A) I actually have a stash of cards on me and that B) they’re tucked discreetly into my wallet as opposed to flapping around my purse in their usual Ziploc bag (because nothing says “classy” like keeping your business cards in a Ziploc bag. I almost bought a proper business card holder the last time I was in Manhattan but then I saw a necklace for the same price, and, well, I’m sure you can guess which item I did not take home).
He scans the card and asks, “So, Kat, you’re a dancer?”
“I can’t dance,” he confesses. “But maybe you can teach me sometime?”
I smile (again) and shrug. “Give me a call.” For a fleeting moment, I consider leaning over to give him a quick peck on the cheek, but I decide not to push my luck. Getting into a car with a stranger is bad enough; making out with a stranger in the middle of the Target parking lot in broad daylight is an entirely different matter.
Instead, I thank him for the lift, head towards the entrance and allow myself a quick glance back towards his car. He waves. I smile. I step onto the sidewalk, turn once more and he waves. I smile. I’m about the repeat the process for the third time when I realize I’m three centimeters away from crashing into the side of the building.
By the time I get my bearings, I’ve completely forgotten why I came to Target in the first place. Shoes? Greeting cards? I force myself to keep walking, hoping something will jar my memory, but given the fact that there is a cute guy in the parking lot at this very moment with my business card in his pocket, I end up wandering around in a complete stupor, wondering why the clothes are all so big and—whoops! I’ve somehow ended up in the maternity section.
How’s that for a Freudian slip?
Eventually I remember that I was coming to Target to buy a new compact, so after a quick blitz through the makeup aisle and an even quicker blitz through the check out (no one to smile at this time), I head home and promise myself I’m not going to get my hopes up. It was just a chance encounter in the checkout line in Marshalls. It was just a 90-second ride through the parking lot to Target. It was just a nice little ego boost and I should be content with that.
But I’m not. I want to see him again, so cross your fingers folks and let’s hope that he calls.