Or perhaps another band in my autism spectrum?
I had to run to the grocery store yesterday before dinner because I’d forgotten the guacamole.
The mission: grocery run at 5pm for 4 measly items (guacamole, red cabbage, heavy cream, eggs). Get there, get in, and get out. A counterclockwise perimeter sweep should do it.
The mindset: Licensed to kill. A Navy SEAL extraction team would not have been more focused or grimly determined than I.
The mission leader: I’d been working in the house all day, so I was wearing the same tank top and shorts I’d worn the day(s?) before. I had a film of dried sweat, grime, and grass clippings all over from working in the house and yard and being Really Fucking Domestic. I no longer own a hairbrush. I have never worn makeup. I do not dress up to run errands.
Are you getting the picture?
I’d managed to get to the store and collect 75% of the needed items in very good time. I started to relax a bit and opened a carton of eggs to check for cracks when I heard, “Is your hair naturally that red, or do you color it?”
I glanced up and saw that I was being addressed by a smiling, older African-American gentleman no taller than myself.
“I wish this was my natural color! ha!”
Glad that little pleasantry was over, I closed the egg carton and turned to put it in my basket. But it wasn’t over yet. The little man continued, “Because you don’t see it too often! Whenever I see a lady with red hair and ask her if it’s natural, she says ‘no.’ How often do you have to redo it?”
I should have known at this point, but no. I was hooked. “Well, natural red hair is a recessive trait, you know, so you have to have inherited a copy of the mutated gene from both parents to have red hair.”
It was his turn to say, “Huh?”
“It’s kind of rare,” I summarized.
“Oh, yeah. Ha. Hey, that’s a pretty tattoo you got there.”
Am I getting…hit on?
If he just wanted to talk-talk, he’d say something topical and neutral about eggs or the weather, right?
How is this supposed to work?
I had only seconds to decide. If I sprinted for the door, I could get myself out fast, but I’d have to leave the basket. Sacrificing the groceries would mean the mission had been a failure. I was torn.
Little Man’s rheumy eyes were trying to twinkle. “It reminds me of those flowers…the, uh…what are they called…”
He faltered, but I was so frozen I couldn’t even think of the type of flower it actually is. You know, the one that was important enough to permanently add to my body. I had a glimmer of understanding into how my mom could forget my sister’s and my name with shocking regularity.
Oh, jesus, he’s still trying to figure it out and I’m standing here like I’m having an absence seizure in the dairy aisle. Closure. We need closure so I can get the hell out of here.
I took a stab. “Zinnias? No, they’re not that tall. Something in the mum family? But taller?”
“No…uh…they…sunflowers! It reminds me of sunflowers!”
“Great! Thanks! You have a good day, now! Bye!”
I grabbed the grocery basket and hightailed it to the self-checkout.
On the ride home, I debriefed myself on the experience. I now have questions I would like to ask the universe and/or my therapist, because this is not the first time something similar has happened.
Why can’t I figure out what’s going on in time to react appropriately? And what’s appropriately?
Why do women never hit on me?
Would I know what was happening if they did?
Does hitting on people ever actually work?
It’s an absolute mystery to me. I feel like the whole hitting-on situation must have been explained one day in middle school when I was out with the flu or a spell of pathological self-consciousness. Being 30-something and still not understanding it doesn’t help, but being married does (a little).
So, a word of advice: if any of you would ever like to indicate an interest in my person, it would probably be best to just spell it out on a gluten-free cake or a $20 bill. Otherwise, I can’t guarantee that I will ever figure out what’s going on.