dearest jesse,
i have never gone into a grocery store as obsessively as i used to go into the lucky supermarket where you worked. this is a little embarrassing to admit, but i think you deserve to know. i didn't really need all that sugar and milk and cereal and bread. i also didn't have to drive a couple miles away to go that grocery store when there was a perfectly good one right up the street. i did it because i was completely and utterly infatuated with you. your messy auburn hair and dark-rimmed glasses; your pale, smooth skin; that dimple when you smiled (and you did, you smiled at me a few times).

a crush confession to my friend, kate, who worked in the same shopping center, revealed that you were generous and funny, sentimental and sweet. you two were friends. she fed me more crush material (like that time you brought the girl a bunch of gerber daisies, which are one of my favorite flowers), and i was hooked even more.

i played the conversation in my head over and over again. i was going to ask you out. you were going to blush. i was going to charm you. we were going to fall madly in like.

but then, of course, you disappeared. my grocery store visits dwindled. my stalking career was over. i moved on.

more than a year later, i was shopping at robinsons-may, buying make up for my mom. i wandered over to the prescriptives counter and there you were, standing in that black lab coat, pawning pressed powder and lipstick.

"you look very familiar," you said, smiling. that dimple.

"oh?" i asked, trying to be as nonchalant as possible. "well maybe we went to school together? maybe you've seen me at rock n' java? maybe you've just seen me around the mall?" maybe you remember my face as your shameless supermarket stalker?

"hmm...i'm not sure," you said.

we talked for ten minutes, at least, my heart pounding, my palms sweating, my spirits leaping right out of my body. i got what i needed. you rang me up.

"well come back and visit me," you said, sweetly.

"i will," i said. i walked away with a bounce in my step.

the next morning a thought hit me: are you gay? i was desperate to know, so i took a poll at work, asking the coffeehouse's regular customers: "if a guy works at a make-up counter, is he gay?"

"no," said my friend jay, "in fact, i know a guy at the prescriptives counter, and he's not gay." crazy coincidence. he was talking about you.

again, he gave me more crush fodder. you play guitar. you paint. you are a goofy, funny guy. i was determined. from then on, whenever i was at the mall, i swung by the prescriptives counter to see if you were there. you never were. i almost called to ask for you, but i chickened out.

i haven't seen you since.

that was a long time ago. i've moved on. i've grown up. my stalking days are over. but just out of curiosity...where do you work now?


Tuesday, January 25, 2000


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