At the ripe ‘ole age of 23, I met this wildcat. Redheaded with a temper to match. She always knew what she wanted, and she almost always got it, and that included me.
I was your typical roundabout, girl crazy and beer goofy. I had no intentions what-so-ever of settlin’ down anytime soon, in fact, I hadn’t ever really given it much thought, to be honest. We were both workin’ at the local Food Lion, I was a bagger and she was a cashier.
I’m not gonna lie, I had never paid that much attention to her, other than the usual hi or see ya later type of thing. I didn’t know her name, although I was well aware of her, um, more feminine charms.
At the time, I was datin’ this other woman, one of the worst mistakes I ever made, but that’s a story for another post. Christmas time was rollin’ around, and the front end manager had a couple of the cashiers decoratin’ the store with Christmasy stuff, banners and such. I was one of three baggers there that evenin’ and business was kinda slow so I was straighten’ up the bags and such, just somethin’ to keep busy, when Jean, the front end manager hollered at me to come to the office.
I was figurin’ she was gonna send me home since I had been there the longest of the baggers that evenin’, but I was figurin’ wrong. As I walked up the two steps into the office Jean was givin’ me this … funny look. I had never before seen this particular expression on her face before, and she had a temper, so I was bracin’ myself for a good tongue lashin’ when she said, “I need you to go help Jennifer put decorations up in the meat department, she’s too short to reach that far up.”
I had to think for a minute because I didn’t rightly recall who Jennifer was right off the top of my head. I wasn’t too keen on puttin’ decorations up, but it involved a female so I was game.
Now, unbenounced to me, Jean and Jennifer had been plottin’ for a couple of weeks on how to get me and her alone, well, as alone as two people can get in a grocery store anyhow. I didn’t find this out ’till much later, like months later, well into our courtin’ phase.
So anyhow, I make my way back to the meat department and there she was, standin’ all of 5′ 6″, clear up on her tip toes, tryin’ with everything in her to get one end of a cardboard banner stuck to the top part of the meat display. I couldn’t help myself, I had to stand there for a good three minutes or so and just observe the mighty effort she was puttin’ into this assignment. I tried my dead level best not to laugh, but me bein’ who I am, well, it didn’t work.
She turned around and looked at me, and honest as my name’s Tim, when our eyes met I was lost. Standin’ in front of me was an angel sent straight from the pearly gates themselves. I’m not real sure, but I think my heart stopped beatin’ for a few seconds or so. I know my mouth was hangin’ open, which I’m quite sure looked pretty stupid, but she didn’t say anything about it.
She saw that I was obviously incapable of talkin’ so she said, and quite perky, “Hi there!” Honest folks, I tried, I tried real hard to say something, anything, but I just couldn’t get any words to come out of my mouth. I’m sure part of the reason for that was the fact that my brain had ceased to function temporarily, and it’s to my credit that I didn’t turn around and come back just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinatin’.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to me, I was finally able to mutter “Hello there.” Now this little wisp of a thing came struttin’ up to me and stuck her hand out to shake hands. I managed to raise my arm enough for her to grab my hand and it was like that time I touched 420-volt electricity. The only difference with this is I didn’t go scootin’ backwards on my ass, feelin’ like my arm had been jerked off my shoulder by an angry boar.
I had no idea what was happenin’ to me. I had never, in my 23 years of life, ever been bashful or shy around the female of our species, but with this one it was totally different. Not only was I confused, but I had this weird feelin’ in the pit of my stomach, a feelin’ I had never felt before. It wasn’t a bad feelin’, it was a good feelin’, I just didn’t realize it at the time.
After a few minutes, the ice, and my brain, finally melted and I was able to carry on a coherent conversation. Don’t ask me about what, all I know is, my mouth was movin’ and there were sounds comin’ out of it. They must have made sense because she talked back and seemed to enjoy whatever subject we had decided on talkin’ about.
By the time we finished with the decorations it was almost time to close the store and start our nightly routine of sweepin’ and moppin’ and such. She went back to her duties and I went back to mine, but I couldn’t get her off my mind. I couldn’t stop thinkin’ about her eyes and how beautiful she was. I searched my brain, tryin’ to recall the times I had seen or talked to her. I know I had bagged groceries behind her at her register, but I couldn’t recall a single clear memory, prior to that night.
I knew I had to get her off my mind because I was meetin’ my “girlfriend” after work and she was the extremely jealous type and there was no way and under no circumstances did I want her to get even the faintest of ideas about Jennifer. Somehow I made it through that night without exposin’ my secret and made it home.
I had to work the next mornin’ and for the first time in a long while, I was excited about goin’ to work, and I knew it was because of Jennifer. I wanted, no wait, I needed to see her again. I needed to talk to her again, I just wanted to be near her. What was I thinkin’? This was not like me at all! To my great disappointment, Jennifer wasn’t workin’ that day. Y’all, that was the worst shift I ever did work.
Little did I know or even realize, Jean and Jennifer had accomplished their goal. I had taken the bait, hook, line and sinker. We went out on our first date a few weeks later, but what she knew and I didn’t was, to me, she was already everything and my heart was hers.
And to this day I believe we were born that way.