Falling in love at a 7-Eleven

OK, “love” is pushing it a bit. In fact, what’s love got to do with it? Nothing, my dear. Nothing. But there’s a story in here somewhere.

I stop at 7-Eleven a couple of days a week. The one across the Intracoastal from me has blueberry-flavored coffee. And since it takes me a good half-hour to get to work, that daily infusion of 16 ounces of pure caffeine has saved my sanity (and perhaps my job) on many occasions.

I typically get there during the late-7 a.m. hour. On occasion I get there just after 8 a.m., like today. And I see the same guy there in the white car. I catch him looking at me from time to time. I’ve never said hi or made an attempt to make eye contact.

Seriously, I know better than to speak to anyone before 9 a.m. (I wish my mother would, after 36 years of me being alive, realize that.)

Anyway, the last time I saw him, his girlfriend had met up with him at 7-Eleven. He had driven there, and she had literally run there — I saw her in a mad sprint. After I got my steaming cup of glorious wonder, I saw him leaning against his car while she was screaming and crying into her cell phone.

He looked nonplussed — not really annoyed or inconvenienced. Just, like he had gone to a place in his head where there was sunshine and puppies and rainbows and shit.

I almost stopped to ask him if she was OK … if they needed help. But then the northerner in me kicked in and figured, fuck it, there’s probably nothing I can do and besides, I’ll be late for work.

I’ve often wondered whether that were one of those “God moments,” in which I could have been a blessing to someone, instead of being kind of appalled at the thought of not getting on right away with my hot coffee date with myself.

So I saw the guy again today. I was exiting the store and he had just pulled up. He sat there and watched me get into my car. No eye contact, of course — seriously, I had a late night with delicious, albeit insufficient, amounts of food and I was preoccupied with today’s deadlines.

A part of me wanted to ask him if things were OK. And another part of me figured that he is like me and hopes no one sees or, worse, remembers, the less-than-pulled-together moments.

And I wondered, since I pretend not to watch him watching me, what might be running through his mind. Perhaps I’m still high off seeing “Sex and the City 2,” but I’m always writing a column in my mind, and today’s question is, “Who do people think I am?”

I don’t really dress up for work, but I try to pull outfits together. (Old Navy ahoy!) I always have some expensive perfume or another. (Michael Kors’ Very Hollywood today.) Always bejeweled. (Big fan of one statement piece, preferably one that I picked up somewhere in my travels.) Always silent. Usually with half a smile, knowing that my coffee and I are about to have a rendezvous.

And I wondered, after seeing his hot mess of a girlfriend, how I seem in comparison. Probably calm. Perhaps poised. Maybe like I either have it all under control or that I don’t have a care in the world, just as long as the blueberry coffee is brewed when I get there.

What nobody sees is that my mom is up my ass the minute I wake up. Today she came in asking for toilet paper, because I haven’t bought any in a while and the half-roll in my bathroom is the only sign of it in the house.

Nobody saw me fighting to zip my favorite jeans and bursting into tears at the mega-muffin-top. I changed into a skirt that was falling off my hips at this time last year (barely zipped that fucker up but it looks better than those jeans).

But then my favorite top in my closet, I discovered upon putting it on, has a residual salad dressing stain from a business lunch (gah) at The Office. A top that always gets me compliments because the color actually works on me.

So, I “saved” the shirt with a sparkly little brooch. Only I (and the blogosphere, now) know about the stain it covers. Perhaps to the outside eye, I can accessorize. But to me, I am getting one more damn wearing out of this cheap Old Navy shirt that will probably fall apart after one more wash anyway. 🙂

In any event, I always see that guy in dress shirts and dress pants. I assume he has a good job. I assume he’s quiet and sweet and perhaps reliable, since he’s always at 7-Eleven at 8:10 a.m. on the dot when I happen to be there at the same time. And I guess I always thought he had a calm, peaceful, easy life till I saw his personal hot mess … and I’d still think that, if I hadn’t witnessed that scene a couple of weeks ago.

Funny how we project an image — whether purposely or subconsciously — and, when it comes down to it, most of our lives look nothing like what others see as our surface.

Most of us can only wish that we were the people our pets, and outsiders, think we are. But for all our flaws and the hot messes in our lives — even if we are our own hot messes — I should hope we’re all a little more interesting beneath the surface than we see.

One Lonely Response to Falling in love at a 7-Eleven

  1. Mel :

    I normally look like a hot mess in the morning when I stop to get gas or whatever. Now I am wondering if I should take the time to do my make-up at home vs in transit.

    I always wonder if we were to stop a busful of people and aks them their stories what we would learn about the polished professional in the front to the homeless man in the back.