It’s the end of our Michiana vacation, and we’ve decided to close up the cabin (always sad) a day early, and spend our last day in Chicago.
So we’re walking along Chicago’s main shopping street, Michigan Avenue. Dr. M needs new batteries for her pedometer. She spots a Radio Shack across the street. I notice a nearby store specializing in selling t-shirts of all the Chicago sports teams. We decide to split up, Dr. M proceeding to the Radio Shack, I, to the souvenir t-shirt store.
Inside, I see a t-shirt on display, suspended from a wire hanger. It’s a Black Hawks t-shirt, the Black Hawks being the Chicago hockey team that just recently won the Stanley Cup. The t-shirt is black, and features the iconic Black Hawks logo, dominated appropriately if not politically correctly by a multi-colored, profiled, Indian head.
It’s a magnificent t-shirt. And I want it.
The only thing is, the t-shirt on display has been hanging from that wire hanger for who knows how long, and it’s a little stretched out. At my request, a store employee gets it down, and passes it off to an attractive, young salesgirl who will handle the transaction. I inquire of the attractive, young salesgirl,
“Do you have another one like that? That one is stretched.”
She replies, in a bored salesgirl kind of a way, “It’s the last one.”
I think for a second, and then respond,
“Okay, I’ll take it anyway.”
As she folds my t-shirt for bagging, the attractive, young salesgirl suddenly breaks into a smile. Now I am hardly an expert in the smiles of attractive, young salesgirls, but it appears to be a smile that could easily be categoried as provocative.
There was a stunned silence (provided entirely by me), finally broken by an explanation for the, now continuing, provocative smile.
“I’m a quick decider too,” the attractive, young salesgirl reveals.
As that sixties song says, something’s happening here. At least, theoretically, which, considering my age and circumstances, is pretty much all there is. Indisputably, a connection has been made between me and the attractive, young salesgirl. And that connection appears to have, dare I say it, some heat behind it.
As I look on, I notice (in shock and delight) that the provocative reaction has now expanded to the attractive, young salesgirl’s eyes, which appear to be dancing. It’s a dance that has been banned by several religions.
The signals are unmistakable. The game is unequivocally “on.” The next line is mine. And it will definitely be key.
The line that came out of me, in response to the attractive, young salesgirl’s saying, “I’m a quick decider too”, was this:
“That’s good. Unless you’re wrong.”
The provocative smile immediately disappears. The dancing eyes turn dark. In double-quick time, I receive my purchase, my credit card receipt and a curt “Enjoy your day” from a now sullen salesgirl who is deliberately looking away.
And there you have it. A perfect recreation of a near lifetime of heterosexual failure played out in a t-shirt store on Michigan Avenue, a quintessential example of a promising opportunity, obliterated by my saying exactly the wrong thing.
My nod of recognition was accompanied by a goofy, semi-accepting smile.
“That’s what I do.”
I return to the street and walk up to Radio Shack to rejoin my wife.