Grocery Encounters of the Weird Kind

Wednesday after work was a bit strange. I had to return some mail-ordered items to a store at the mall, but when I got to the store, I realized I'd left the return slip in the car. I had to run all the way back out to the parking garage to get it. Fun. Then just for kicks I stopped at another store to try on some clothes and I wound up not liking anything I tried on except some nice smelling stuff. After that, I was trying to make a quick trip in the supermarket on my way home, but I couldn't find half of what I wanted.

As I was taking one last inventory before heading for the checkout, I ran into someone from the young adult church-affiliated group I attended for about three years in my late 20s, the group where I'd met my ex and most of my former friends. This guy didn't come that often, I think, and he wasn't someone I knew that well. I should say, he walked by me, stopped, and asked, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" I said yes but I had to ask him his name, and in turn he got mine wrong--although he had a few details about me right: my writing, and (as the discussion went on) the Theology on Tap where I'd met Amy Welborn. I don't remember seeing or talking to him then, but that was three years ago anyway. Told him what I was up to, made a "hot librarian" crack when he asked if I was going to do the whole stereotypical glasses thing. He laughed so hard at that it startled me.

I asked him what he was up to and he said he still works for the national defense contractor around the corner from my office (which I wasn't even sure I knew, and had no idea he was an engineer). He also mentioned teaching CCD and how he preferred the 7th graders because he could talk about slightly more profound things with them than he would with the younger kids. That's when I mentioned Amy Welborn and her Prove It series for teens, and then we got to talking about blogs. He asked if I had one, and I deflected the question by saying I spent far more time commenting on other people's blogs and was thinking about starting one to chronicle my experiences in the fall (which is true).

I was getting kind of anxious to get home because it was around six and I was tired, hungry, and not sure if we were going to get thunderstorms, so I started to take my leave and he gave me his card. (It was at this point I noticed his T-shirt was getting a little sweaty. We're in the supermarket and I'm wearing a knit cardigan.) Said I could e-mail him and maybe we could have a drink. . . although he doesn't drink because he's "living the pure life." Huh? He then explained he gets tested frequently for security clearances on his work. (I still don't get that--what's an occasional drink?) I said yeah, O.K., even though I hate that the ball is in my court now and I can't tell if this is a "just friends" drink or an "I'm interested in you" drink.

So he left, I picked up my things and was headed to the checkout, and I saw him head out down by the self-checkout area. It then occurred to me I hadn't seen anything in his hands the whole time we were talking. When the whole thing was said and done, I really wondered if he'd made a trip back inside to talk to me. (I may be a prize, but I am so not worth your ice cream melting, dude.)

I figured he hadn't heard any of the gossip about me (the ex, the ex-roommate, etc.), because he didn't try to fish for info (I could always tell someone knew when they started doing that)--although if he mentions me to any people he still talks to from the group, and they know about me, he's going to get an earful. Not that I really should care. I'm trying to get away from that whole group. Anything associated with it is a reminder of bad times, and I want to leave it behind and move on with my life.

Which is why I'm feeling ambivalent about the whole thing, I guess. I know him from the group, and I don't know how many people from the group he still knows. The other overarching thing is that while he is all right to talk with, I don't feel particularly attracted to him. (I didn't back then, either, regardless of whether I was dating or single.) So I don't want to give him the wrong idea if he has intentions of being more than friends, and after my observations (which may or may not be on target, admittedly) I suspect it falls into the latter. I know I'm making a generalization when I say this, but single men older than I am usually aren't looking for new female friends, in my experience. I definitely am going to wait a little bit to e-mail him. Heck, I still owe an e-mail to someone I ran into a few weeks ago. It just makes me feel a little pressured to tread very carefully regarding the whole thing.


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