If you’re really looking to feel like a sexless, dried up husk of a woman, I know just the place for you to live: a college town.
Last week, I stopped at Willie’s for a steak burrito (no double entendre intended). The guy behind the sneeze guard looked like a boy I dated in college. This had barely registered on me and the blush was just beginning on my cheeks when he asked, “Rice and beans?” He raised his head up over the glass to hear my answer. Our eyes met. I smiled and said, “No rice, just beans, black.” He gave me a quick grin and for a moment, I was 19 again.
Then I noticed that his neck was covered in hickies. Or is it hickeys? Whatever. For a millisecond, I felt like he had cheated on me, like when I found someone else’s phone number on a little white slip of paper in that other fellow’s jacket pocket. Probably a flourescent windbreaker pocket, because y’know, it was back in 1987.
While I waited for him to ladle my beans and pass me along to the toppings lady, I kept hearing that line from “Moonstruck” when Cher comes home from her evening at the opera and her mother yells–“You got a LOVE BITE on your neck! Cover that thing up! You’re life’s going down the toilet!”
But in this little vignette at the Willie’s, I wasn’t the Cher character. I am now Olympia Dukakis. That’s what a college town will do to you. If you’re over 28, you’re the weary mother in a housecoat, shuffling around the kitchen with a coffee pot and a heavy sense of resentment.
And don’t even get me started on trying to go to Kroger on the Sunday before classes start! The place is a steaming miasma of college age pheromones and Axe body spray. All those young lovers who have been separated while home visiting their families? They’re ALL in the grocery store. Carb-loading. There’s more canoodling going on there than at any club or fraternity house. Buying groceries together is intimate. It means you’re going to be doing things that make you hungry and you’ll be too naked to walk over to Subway.
I say “canoodling” because young lovers are especially numerous in the pasta aisle. Everybody knows how to make spaghetti, even the freshmen. When I first started canoodling with a fella who had a kitchen and pots, spaghetti was the only thing I knew how to make. Well, spaghetti and a beef stroganoff that was heavily dependent on Campbells cream of mushroom soup.
So while I’m steering my cart towards the yolk-free egg noodles for that delightful cabbage and kielbasa mashup (again, no double entendre…or maybe it’s subliminal), I’m dodging couple after couple who can’t keep their hands off each other. They’re each holding one handle of the shopping basket and swinging it between them. Or cuddling while they decide between the shredded Parmesan or the Parmesan Romano blend. Or he fiddles with the belt loop on the back of her jeans while she selects a jar of Prego. Or, because it’s not 1987 anymore, one cute fella taps another cute fella on the nose with a long sleeve of vermicelli and they giggle.
All while I stand there, a dried up husk of a woman who used to be pulchritudinous in the late 80s and for a good part of the early 90s. As these young lovers prepare to heat things up, I’m trying to find the elbow macaroni that has vegetables hidden in it, the low-fat egg noodles for Eastern European casseroles, the whole wheat rigatoni that contains more grams of fiber.
Love is in the air. Especially in aisle 8 at the Alps Road Kroger. I’ll be over here in aisle 2, where they sell wine.