Friday, June 8, 2012

Deli (En)Counters

Last week I decided that grocery shopping was entirely too proletariat or something and did other things. This week we have no food. And by no food, I mean a cupboard full of assorted impulse buys (This enchilada sauce comes in a pouch instead of a can! I must buy it! These granola bars are blue! Everyone will eat these!) and a refrigerator full of condiments and noodly green onions. So what's a girl to do, but go and hang out at the deli counter?

Seriously. I was at the deli counter at one of our local grocery stores, just waiting my turn. A man came up behind me and started waiting his turn, too. The Hooligan was reading the labels of everything in sight while hopping from foot to foot, stopping occasionally to tell me the rules of the intricate game he was playing with himself.

Deli Lady #1 came over and took my order and started to work on filling it.
Deli Lady #2 came over and surveyed the scene, looked at the man behind me and said: "Are you two together?"
Man behind me, without skipping a beat said "Not yet!"
Deli Lady #2 looked briefly confused while Deli Lady #1 and I exploded in the sort of laughter that comes from being taken completely by surprise by something witty.
Deli Lady #2 gets it and said "Oh, you're cute!"
Man behind me, again without skipping a beat, said: "I wish she'd think that!" while gesturing at me.

Folks, I am rarely speechless. I can almost always blurt something. I'm not promising that it would be particularly appropriate or witty, but rarely am I ever at a complete loss for words. But there, in the deli section of one of my favorite grocery stores, I stood as mute as the rotisserie chickens. To be in the face of such quick wit and just pure, delightful impishness just made my day.

Nobody ever hits on me anymore. I am not the girl who is easily flattered by unwanted attention. I have never been the girl to thrust my heaving bosoms at people and bat my eyelashes. I have almost always been the girl talking to herself in her head and assuming that no one can see her when she laughs at her own joke that she told herself or if she dances a little bit for no reason at all. I am the girl who has been raised to be respectful and kind to just about everyone regardless of gender, and flirting always seemed so insincere. I am also the girl who always assumed that if someone was staring in my direction, I either had a booger showing or they were staring at the person next to me. But still. Nobody ever hits on me anymore.

I'm not saying this delightful fellow was hitting on me, either. I suspect he was just amusing himself. But in so doing, he amused me and Deli Ladies Numbers One and Two. I suppose the feminist in me should get all uppity and how dare he degrade my status as a human person with breasts by making a lighthearted jest rooted in the fact that we were different genders. I suppose the gray-haired married woman in me should be offended. Did he not see my ring and the child who is clearly mine? I suppose the mother in me should be outraged, too. The nerve of some people to just joke about such things in front of children! How will I explain that to my child? Won't someone think of the children?!

I wasn't offended. I wasn't all simpering and flattered, either. I was terribly amused. It was just one of those wonderful, slightly off-color things that pass the time while you're waiting for your corn dog. It was a tiny connection with three other human beings where we could share surprised laughter during an otherwise boring and mundane activity. I love when people step out of the bounds of propriety and just say stuff. I grow so weary of treading around people's over-large toes and fearing that the joke might not be funny. I grow even wearier of my own out-sized toes.

There are real problems, real prejudices with malicious and callous implications. There are mean-spirited people who seek to tear down and belittle with their words, their humor. There was that one terrifying woman in the grocery store once who, when I politely moved aside and said "No, you go ahead," whisper-growled-hissed "Yes, Mother!" at me and almost made my son cry. There was me, irritable and needing to pee, who snapped at the woman behind me in line at Wendy's because she crowded my space. There are racists, sexists, size-ists, age-ists, bigots, loudmouths, lechers, losers, degraders, and douches everywhere. That sort of nonsense should not be taken lightly. But isn't that all the more reason to step back and enjoy a laugh with a stranger who took a risk and made a silly little joke in spite of the fact that I could have gone all Femi-Ninja on him? Hi-yah!

There are so many giant chips we could carry about on our shoulders. Sometimes we get so stooped and miserable and greasy because of them. It is terribly refreshing when Man About the Deli comes and offers some nice, cool Ranch dip to salve the saltiness and remind us that life is mostly delicious; we should enjoy it in all of its carcinogenic absurdity. Also, more importantly, that we should sometimes just get over ourselves and our over-thinking, over-sensitivity, over-compensation. To paraphrase everyone's favorite sexist villain, Sigmund Freud, sometimes a corn dog is just a corn dog.


  1. Love your perspective on this! :)

    1. Hey thanks, Dawn! I was a little nervous when I published it (stepping on toes, you know.)

  2. Amen. x7 (Because seven is the perfect number)

  3. So love this post! Sometimes a corn dog IS just a corn dog, but man are they good - - especially with a little mustard :)

    1. Oh my, yes. When one is in the mood for a good corn dog with mustard, nothing else will do.

  4. Replies
    1. Do you like how I made it about corn dogs instead of racism?

  5. Tangled,

    Oh, I so love this. How fun was that guy ("Not yet!"). We need more of that spontanaity and playfulness in the world.

    Great post. :)

    (ps--thank you so much for all your nice comments on my blog, makes my day every time)

  6. I rarely get hit on as weLL, but tonight at The Big Store of Stuff my best friend saw me when she walked in the door and hollered my name, but I somehow missed her. Later I saw her daughter and found out about my missed connection and found my BFF in the soap aisle. When I see her tomorrow (scheduled visit to repair something) I wiLL have to insist that we stop meeting like this!

  7. How fantastic! Was he cute?? Sorry, I am the kind of person where flattery gets you every where!! I love it when moments like this happen and it leaves you smiling for the rest of the day (like I get comments of this nature all the time...not!)

    And yes 7 is the perfect number ;-)

  8. Pure delight! Yes, sometimes we just need to open up and accept the absurdities of life, carcinogenic and otherwise. Loved this.

  9. I love this Tangled, wish I'd been there. I so enjoy those times when someone steps out of the line of rigidity we are all so often standing in. And what a compliment it is when a stranger shares the fun images from their heart. Kudos to him! and to you for enjoying his friendly banter!

  10. It's all about intentions, isn't it? I like to think that the intention is at worst mostly ignorant, very rarely malicious. I could be wrong, but believing it makes it easier to get through the day.


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