I walked to the supermarket. The sun was high, it was midday. I was feeling pretty spruce and happy about things. There might even have been a little skip in my step every few yards. You couldn't explain these things, they just happened every now and then. Good days. No reason.
I pulled a trolley from the stacks and marched it in towards the electric doors. A girl stood there, just outside the doors and she was talking on a phone,
'I am done with his god damn attitude. He just lies to me all the time, promises this and that, then goes out on the pull I am sure of it.' She said to the phone.
My eyes were running over the back of her thighs just below her shorts, she looked athletic, I felt a twinge in me, I felt lust. She turned and caught me looking at her. I felt embarrassed and looked away, passing by her into the supermarket. As the doors shut I could hear her still talking,
'I just can't trust him anymore, he is always checking out other women.'
I felt like a bad dog, it could have been my woman saying those things. I think the girl knew it. She was young and good looking but the slide was on it's way. 10 years at most and she would be done with men, hate them. I couldn't blame her. There was something wrong with us. We just wanted to fuck everything all the time. You couldn't stop the urge, even if you wanted to. It was beyond our control but they didn't know this. They thought we enjoyed it. It was no better than Heroin; the pleasure of the hit balanced by the pain of it's slavery.
I wandered down the aisles picking up the things I needed and plopping them in the trolley, if the item was cardboard or tough I would leave the trolley a little way before I got to the shelf and launch it at the trolley. See how far I could push it. Give a little 'yeeeaaaargh!' when I got a real long shot in. I once took out a stack of bean cans this way and caused a brief commotion.
I pulled a girl in the vegetable section of Safeways in Uxbridge, Middlesex in the year 1996. We swapped numbers and she promised to come out with me. I had seen her in a club somewhere and in my drunken haze had blown asking her out. Somehow I found the guts amidst the onions and broccoli, maybe it was the earthiness of it all. The sense of farmyards, gardens and country air. I liked shopping after that.
The same girl I had seen talking outside was pushing a trolley now down the aisle I was in. I felt nervous for my previous lasciviousness but I felt hot too, I smiled at her and she smiled back kind of knowingly. I knew she was a sucker for charm then. I could imagine the kind of guy she was with. He was just like me. Tricky.
I walked past and didn't say anything more. I was actually annoyed at myself. I was in love and trying to stop this incessant eyeing up of women and their thighs and bums. It seemed to me that I had gotten too involved with the habit of trying to pull each and every woman I saw that I couldn't turn it off any longer. I was addicted. They didn't help. Women needed to be looked at, if you ignored them, they sought your attention. It was innocent and yet it was a trap. A honey trap. A game of need. We all wanted to be wanted. But the game was a bad one, it was basically wrong, not because it caused harm, it was harmless to look, and yet...It was some kind of infidelity. It was the seed and it would grow. I wanted to stamp it out, I wanted my garden rid of the weed. I wanted to grow love.
I had succeeded once, grown love, switched the flirting off so well it had suffocated and died. Then my love died. Then I was left with nothing. I had let myself go to waste in that time. I had killed my flirting ability and killed love, my garden was barren. It took a long time to get it back to something worth visiting. When I did I made some kind of promise to myself never to let the charm go again. This had gotten out of hand in the end and I became a rogue, a romeo, a flirt of epic proportions. Again this ruined my loves. I just couldn't be satisfied. I was older now and needed love more than anything else. I didn't want to be a slave to the game any longer. But I couldn't figure out how to stop it and still be a man.
I made the checkout. The girl was a little behind me and saw me, but we had an uncomfortable situation now because I had ignored her after she smiled, and she felt a little put out, I could tell. She deliberately went to a check out some rows down and pretended not to notice my looking at her. For some reason I wanted to apologise. I caught my thought and realised how ridiculous that was. I began to empty my trolley on to the belt.
'Cash or card, sir?' I heard the checkout girl say and I looked up to see the most gorgeous blue eyes and blond hair looking back at me. I gazed at the sparkle of a nose stud that really seemed to speak to me. I felt that urge again. I felt like a slave. I wanted to fuck her, my body wanted to lunge. I struggled to right my thoughts and said,
'er...card I guess' but thought about asking for her number.
The onions and broccoli slid down the conveyor and into her hands, I just knew I could have got it if I asked. I held back. I couldn't decide if I was letting opportunities slip by me or doing the right thing. I found myself wondering just how in love I was, was she really in love with me, could I get away with shagging a supermarket checkout girl with a sparkling nose stud. What was I thinking? Why was I doing this? Jesus, what if I got old and decrepit, I didn't have long left. This was my chance and I was letting it go and yet...I wasn't. I was still stuck in the urge. Still addicted. Would this never stop? Oh Jesus.
I paid and got out of there before I saw more beautiful women, ripe, luscious, ready, willing. This was insane. Most men just enjoyed it, I seemed to analyse myself to the point of extinction. I was basically good, but I was also really quite bad because it was there.
I got home and pulled the bags out of the car and into the kitchen. They were wet now from a light rain that had somehow appeared out of nowhere when I left the supermarket. You couldn't explain these things, they just happened now and then, good days turned into cloudy ones, no reason.
She was lying on the sofa watching an episode of Friends and laughing to herself. I didn't like or dislike the show, but I could never understand how she could watch the same episode over again and again and still laugh. She thought the same about my shows. I walked in after putting the food away. The broccoli and the onions. This was the house in which they belonged, this was the house where my garden grew, this was the house were love was in its ever changing form like a precious flower that might be seasonal or ever green, you could never tell until it grew. I felt horny. I had been thinking about women all the way back in the car and trying to push the focus onto the one I had at home. I guess it had worked.
'Hi Darling' I said
'Ssshhh' she replied. And I put all thoughts of sex away.
She was laid out in loose fitting pyjamas, a half eaten sweet in one hand and a pot of yoghurt in the other. In the light I could see the soft white of her cheeks and little red blemishes, small red spots, she got those around her period time. She looked like a slob. I couldn't remember how she looked when she looked appealing. I didn't mind though, overall it was love that exuded from me when I looked at her. She was mine, she was with me. I sssh'd until the adverts came on.
'Have you ever been pulled in a supermarket?' I asked
'What sort of question is that?' she said looking at me suspiciously.
'Just asking' I said
'Why, did you pull someone at the supermarket?' she said laughing almost sarcastically at me. I sometimes felt love was just hatred in disguise. The little things that seemed so endearing at first could become a source of annoyance beyond belief. I often noticed her annoyed at something I did or said that she had gotten too familiar with seeing in me. I never liked that. I couldn't see how to be more than I was. Someone knowing everything about you somehow made you dull. I felt dull when she laughed like that. Like she knew me only as weak. Knew, I couldn't possibly have pulled in a supermarket.
'Just the checkout girl' I lied.
'Yea right' she said. But I knew she was just protecting herself. She couldn't be sure, once I had been quite the stud even if I was hers now.
I wondered if our love was suffocating us. I think it was and there was nothing we could do about it. Eventually it would be dead but we would go on. disliking each other, maybe have affairs but more likely not, we needed security too much to risk making such a mistake as to be out there in the world again, alone, unloved. It was fear that held us together, fear and habit. But we accepted this, sometimes we had moments when we both met again, like back when we had really felt the rush of connection. We were right for each other, anyone could see that. We would never find such a good match for ourselves again. It was fated, I couldn't deny it, it was the whole reason I fought to control that urge within me. Even so I always felt somehow it could have been better. The long days of not saying much, not feeling much, of annoying each other just about balanced by the nights when we felt it connect again. Felt love was worth it again. Still alive beneath the complacency and boredom. I didn't understand but I accepted it. Overall it was worth it to be with her.
Then in March of 2007 she had an affair with a builder that we had got in to do some work on the back of the house. I couldn't believe it had happened so quickly, so easily. It tortured me to think of it happening all the while I was coming home and everything seemed so normal. I found out only because a girlfriend who I was close with told me. I nailed her after that, it made me feel better, I think she had planned it all along but I was grateful to have someone there when the woman I loved no longer was. She had left. Her love had turned to stone. I never really understood why, maybe I was weak, maybe we we rent really right for one another. I stayed on in the house and some months later we completed our separation on paper. It took so long and each step was painful beyond belief. All that time I would have taken her back. I didn't tell her this, I knew she had to come back by herself or not at all. I also knew that I was a fool if I took her back, these things never worked out again. But I would have done it.
I sat sipping a beer alone in the house, I thought about her a lot but it no longer hurt. I would have liked if we could have been friends but once she was gone she never contacted me again. The builder was just a fling, just her way out. She was with some other guy now and had a kid. I hoped she was happy. I sipped my beer. Thought about love and how crazy it was, how cold it could become. I thought about the supermarket checkout girl and figured I should have gotten her number. Then again, I knew eventually love would come find me again.
I picked up the phone and dialed a number, a woman's voice answered.
'Who is on tonight?' I asked
'Sandy is on tonight, she is a buxom blond, very accommodating'
'Sandy...' I looked up trying to remember, I think I had seen her once before and recalled her being quite friendly.
'OK thanks' I said and put the phone down.
I finished the beer, and walked to the door, picking up my car keys on the way and checking how much cash I had in my wallet. I had 70 pounds. I only needed 60. I left the house.
Love might leave you alone for years, without feeling, without connection, without anything but your own sorrow and a hole in your heart. Some said that love was everything, but I figured love could kill a man who gave his all to it without knowing it would be with him forever. I believed in love. I believed one day I would find one that would stay, that would be enough to stop me chasing other women. Each week I visited the supermarket and played the same game, wandered through the vegetable section and picked up broccoli and onions. Somethings would always be there in life, others seemed to fade in and out. And sometimes when the nights were lonely and no human had touched my skin, or hugged me for months, I might leave the house and visit a place I knew not far away where a touch could be bought for cash, and I would be held by a woman I didn't know, yet who was willing to whisper in my ear that she would love me forever and in that I found some kind of peace, I could believe, while I waited.
'The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand.
They are the moments when we touch one another.' - Jack Kornfield