By Tony Lindsay
Most women enjoy shopping. I don’t, especially grocery shopping. But, this market has Carlos MacArthur, the baker. So I am here pushing my cart through the crowed aisles to the bakery.
“Excuse me Miss, do you know what aisle the peanut butter is in?” asks a short girl in pink basketball shorts and a yellow halter.
“No,” is my answer.
I know where the peanut butter is, but I do not want to stop. I push my cart ahead maneuvering past shopping mommies and seniors. I have a task, and if delayed or side tracked my resolve may falter. The bakery is one aisle down.
Few craftsmen catch my eye. Being a CPA, my taste leans toward the professional; a business suit and a polished pair of wingtips usually attracts me, but this baker, in his tall white hat and coat, has me eating confectionary treats despite my limited carbohydrate diet. His red hair, lean physique, dark brown eyes, and a Spanish accent have turned me on, truly.
Today, three weeks of smiles and small conversations about living areas, old schools, and goals have converged into this moment. My plan of action is a little forward, but after three weeks of only talking a stronger move is required if I am to establish a relationship with Carlos beyond the bakery.
My plan is to ask him to lunch, a meal that I will prepare at my home. This is the first time that I have extended such an intimate invitation to a man, so some anxiousness exists.
Moving out of the last aisle, I see him at the counter: tall as Georgia pine and just as lean. He is serving a pretty, shapely woman who is smiling. She has on pushup brazier that has her breast nearly to her chin. Her attire is more for a dance studio than the grocery store. I do not proceed to the counter. I wait for their exchange to end. He hands her pastries and she says something to him. I push my cart closer to hear.
“I wish you would reconsider my offer. I make the best fried chicken in the State and its just me at home, and I promise the dessert is to die for.”
Darn it, she is using my plan.
Smiling while shaking his head no, Carlos answers. “It is against store policy to date customers, but thank you so much for the invitation. I am sorry but I must decline.”
“Don’t think of it as a date. I am masseuse, think of it as a client visit. Here is my card in case you she change your mind.” She winks.
I about-face with my cart. I will not put myself in the same category as that woman. What was I thinking? He is gorgeous. Of course women approach him all the time. And if he turned her down in her spandex, me in my business suit with considerable less cleavage will receive a rejection. I leave my empty cart in the aisle and bee-line for the exit. I hadn’t considered rejection.
My anxiousness was around what to do once he got to my apartment. I want him, but I am not yet up to offering him “dessert.” I was worried about boring him, not him agreeing to lunch; I thought of that as a certainty. At the cashier lanes, I stop.
That woman’s rejection has nothing to do with me. Because he told her no that doesn't guarantee me a no. I came to this store ask Carlos to lunch. I am standing still amidst people going to and fro with shopping carts. I decide to do what I came to do. I briskly walk back to the bakery.
I see him alone at the counter.
“Hello Madelyn, I saw you and then poof, gone. What can I offer you today? The croissants are just out the oven.” He smiles.
“I don’t know about those, you told me French bread was difficult for you in school.”
“Oh no, fear not these are superb” he kisses his fingers tips “these you will enjoy. It is funny that you remember my weakness.”
“No, I remember you saying you were challenged by them but not beaten.”
He smile broadens.
“I will try half a dozen.”
He does not turn to get the croissants from the rack instead he leans on the counter towards me, “Madelyn, this weekend I am trying a new pastry recipe and I would like for you to come by my home and taste them. You have discerning palate and I trust you judgment. It won’t take long, I assure you.”
“This weekend, Saturday is booked, but Sunday is free.”
“Ah, than Sunday it shall be. Is three good for you?”
“Yes, three is perfect.”
Tony Lindsay has written three short story collections: Pieces of the Hole (Third World Press), Fat from Papa’s Head, and Emotional Drippings (Pen Knife Press). He has published book critiques and reviews for Black Issue’s Book Review. He was a contributor to the anthologies Don't Hate the Game, Lucious, and Fire and Desire, the on-line encyclopedia Identity.com, andMosiac.com. He has been published by to the African American literary web-site ‘Timbooktu.com’, as well as the young adult magazine Cicada. He writes bimonthly articles for the magazine Conversations, and he writes non-fiction reviews for Hartman Publishing.