Monday, January 7, 2013

The Smitten Cashier-Boy and the Pink Maneater

"You've got a ten-dollar bill coming out of your pocket."

The cashier-boy is looking down at my crotch, a little to the right.  A ten dollar note is hanging on for dear life after being pulled out of my pocket when I had handed him my store card from my keychain.

"Oh, just showing off," I say.

He looks back at me blankly for a moment.  I want to further explain my failing attempt at being funny, and clarify that I was just joking that I had purposely dangled a ten-dollar bill from my pocket in an attempt to show off the enormous amount of money that I carry around with me to the grocery store.
But too much time has passed for me to offer an addendum to my joke.

Finally a look of clarity sweeps over his face and he says the words, "I wish."  Which makes it clear that he does not understand what I meant, and it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable as I try to piece together what he thinks I meant.

Needless to say, it isn't a good start for me and the cashier-boy.

The cashier-boy begins slowly processing my items through the scanner, as if they are some secondary concern for him -- something that's just keeping his hands busy.  His main focus is continuing his narrative about fantasy football to the bag boy.

The bag boy, however, is the antithesis of a captive audience.  He's completely absorbed in his job of bagging my items, which is a good thing.  But he is so engaged in the task at hand that it seems as if bagging items is a job that requires his complete attention.  Which is probably not a good thing for him.

The cashier-boy's fantasy football monologue is cut short when a girl walks by.

Like this.  But more wintery.
She's wearing pink.  So much pink.  A pink hoodie and pink sweatpants, that may or may not actually say the word "pink" on the ass.  I'm not sure, because I've made myself stop looking.  Because there's a slight chance that she might not be eighteen.  The older I get, the harder it is to judge.  And the creepier it feels.

She struts through the store as if she owns the place, and I have already pinned her as an off-duty employee* even before she walks behind the customer service counter.

*Why do kids who work in grocery stores or fast food restaurants always seem to be hanging around when they're not working?  Do they really love work that much?

From the way she walks and the way that the cashier-boy looks at her, it is clear that this girl is a heart-breaker.  I've encountered them before: their sole purpose in life is to crush the soul of any innocent male that crosses their paths.

"Hey, Abigail!" the cashier-boy calls to her.  "Are you working this Saturday?"

Abigail begins walking towards our lane, but not because of his greeting and inquiry.

The cashier-boy repeats his question, quieter this time.  "You working this Saturday?"

"Uhmm I dunno," Abigail non-answers.  She is behind the cashier-boy now, sifting through some papers to the right of his register.

"Well, if you're not working I could really use a switch.  I'm tryin'a go to this show down in Philly," he explains, tryin'ta be cool.

"Uhmm, yea I dunno.  I'll let you know," she says, having found whatever paper or form she needed to find.  On her way back to the customer service counter, she pulls a pen from the back of his ear.  And you can tell, just tell, that he is going to be thinking about that moment all night.

Perhaps he'd touch the back of his ear that was now void of a pen, and wonder if it meant something.  Did she feel comfortable enough around him to just snag a pen right from behind his ear?  He'd wonder if she specifically wanted his pen.  Perhaps she had only come over to Checkout Lane Six so that she could interact with him, even though she was acting nonchalant.  Maybe he was the reason that she came into the store -- the sifting through papers was just a ruse.

Surely, surely, the pen-stealing must mean something.

"Whatever you're wearing smells really nice!" he calls after her.

She is back by customer service, and completely ignores him.

"It really did," he tells me quietly.

There's only two more items for him to scan: a half-gallon of milk and a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese.  For the past half-minute, they've been patiently sitting at the end of the rubber conveyer belt, just waiting to join their grocery friends, who are being carefully bagged by the bag boy, still in his own world.

But the cashier-boy doesn't seem to care about scanning these last two items and sending me on my way.  His attention is focused towards the customer service counter.

"You didn't even say thank you!" he yells to Abigail.

"Whaaat?" she half-caringly yells back.

"I said that you smell nice and you didn't even say thank you!" he explains.  Loudly.

"Yes I did," she says.

"No you didn't," he continues.  Then, turning to me and the bag boy: "Did anyone hear her say 'thank you?'"

I look towards the bag boy, who is staring at one of my yogurts.  Like, actively looking at it, all other bagging operations on hold.  He's inspecting it, as if he has never seen that particular flavor before.  Or as if he has never seen yogurt before.  Or as if that particular cup of yogurt is currently talking to him on behalf of God, revealing the secrets of the universe.

The cashier turns away from his detached coworker and looks to me for backup.  "Did you hear her say 'thank you?'"

"Hey, man, don't bring me into this," I say, not wanting to be a part of the most juvenile flirt-argument I have ever witnessed in my life.  One in which the guy's pathetic attempts are not even being noticed.  And more importantly, one which is delaying my night.

But then, for some reason, I say, "Nah, man.  She didn't say shit."

"See?!"  The cashier-boy extends his hand, presenting me as the newest piece of evidence in his case versus The Pink Maneater.

But she doesn't hear or doesn't care.  She is already halfway out of the grocery store.  Off to go break some other kid's heart while smelling nice.

The cashier kinda shrugs his shoulders and offers me a look that says "Ah well.  Thanks for backing me up, though."

And I kinda purse my lips and shake my head, as if to say, "Don't worry man, she's a stone-cold bitch.  You shouldn't waste your time with someone wearing so much pink and smelling good when she comes into work on her night off, anyway.   

Additionally, don't bother with girls who completely ignore your compliments.  You seem like an intriguing fellow, what with the going to rock shows in Philly and running what sounds like a pretty decent fantasy football team.  

But next time, don't hint that you are hip and cool by going to rock shows.  Pink Maneaters don't care what you do on a Saturday night.  Know what they do care about?  


Sure you might work at a grocery store, but that could just be a front.  Pretend you have exorbitant amounts of money that you obtained through mysterious means.  Instead of mentioning that you want to go to a rock show in Philly on Saturday night, perhaps say that you need off on Saturday night to go down to Philly to - (it is important that you clear your throat at this moment) - *ahem* "take care of something."   

The mysteriousness of this comment might be enough to at least get her to look at you and notice that you exist.  And this is the key moment for you.  You need her to think that you have tons of money, even though you clearly do not.   

But you need to be subtle about it.   

Perhaps you could hang a ten-dollar bill out of your pocket.  And when she informs you that you have a ten-dollar bill hanging out of your pocket, say something like, "Oh, this old thing?" and then blow your nose in it and throw it into the trash.  

I know that ten dollars is a hefty price to pay for this particular cold-hearted girl, but when she sees that you use ten-dollar bills as tissues, she will be like putty in your hands."

I'm not sure if my simple head-shake translates all of that.

But it does inspire him enough to scan my final two items, take my credit card, and hand me my receipt.  Which is a very good first step. 

The bag boy hands me my last bag. 

"Thanks, man.  I appreciate it," I tell him in an ultra-friendly tone, like usual.

But the bag boy just stands there, anxiously awaiting the next customer's items to come rolling down the chute.

I want to snap him out of it.  To grab him by the arm so that he is forced to look me in the eyes.  And I want to compassionately nod my head or offer some other form of non-verbal guidance that he needs to chill out.  That it is okay to talk about fantasy football every once in a while.  That it's okay to slack off a little bit (though not as much as cashier-boy).  That it's okay to take, at the very least, a cursory glance at the beautiful girl that just walked through the store and shot down your coworker.  And finally, that sometimes yogurt is just yogurt.

But then I decide to just take my groceries and leave the store -- happy, for the first time, that I'm not eighteen anymore.

-Youngman Brown

Dude Write

Submitted to Dude Write. Click the link to check out some writing from some other great male writers.


  1. The teenage flirtation is such an awkward thing. But then sometimes the grown up ones are just as bad.

  2. Mike you are a much kinder soul than I. When people pull me into their arguments I tend to say the most absurd things as possible. (It's not like I have to try hard.) In this case, I would have said, "No she did NOT say thank you and it was pretty fucking rude! Do you want me to bring her back here? Do you???" *takes a step away* "Because I totally will! I mean, if I had a rubber hose I would whack her ass until it matched her ridiculous outfit! And YOU!" *turn to bag boy* "If you keep making goo-goo eyes at my yogurt you are going to have to buy it dinner!"
    See I like to do this because then people-particularly teenagers-get to see that there are far more fucked up people in the world than whoever they were bitching about before they pulled me in.

  3. Oh sweet baby yams. I wouldn't want to be 18 again to save my life! Even if the situation arose that you could really give some good, thoughtful advise, the guy wouldn't listen anyhow. No one under 30 really listens to anything. Well, I didn't anyhow!

  4. I'm with Kat. I'd just stir up some major shit, because well, now that I'm older it's just fun messing with teenagers because they take shit so seriously.

    "She's just busting your balls, man, because she totally wants the D. You should have seen how she looked at you. TOTAL come-fuck-me eyes."

  5. "Perhaps he'd touch the back of his ear that was now void of a pen, and wonder if it meant something. Did she feel comfortable enough around him to just snag a pen right from behind his ear? He'd wonder if she specifically wanted his pen. Perhaps she had only come over to Checkout Lane Six so that she could interact with him, even though she was acting nonchalant. Maybe he was the reason that she came into the store -- the sifting through papers was just a ruse."

    Holy crap, did that bring back memories. I hated my teenage years, desperately looking for any indication that she liked me. I never want to go back to those years of no self confidence or esteem.

    But as for now, I'm all for the screwing with the teenagers plan. They are so self absorbed that it isn't very difficult.

  6. I hear ya! It's impossible to look at a girl and not feel like a perv. They develop and dress so slutty at such a young age these days. It's absurd!

    I like how the 10 dollar bill comes to full circle in the story! Brilliant!

  7. I love how you can take these situations that I would brush off as an unusual happenstance and weave it into such an entertaining, articulate blog post. You must teach me your ways!

    H'anyway, teen flirting is a wonderful thing to witness, though. It never ceases to entertain me. Their attempts are so obviously desperate.

    Also, I'm pretty sure the bag boy was just blazed out of his mind. The incoming groceries probably brought on flashbacks of Space Invaders or something.

  8. Maybe the bag boy doesn't want to get involved in conversations because he's working on his Ph.D. and he's thinking about a problem he needs to solve. If Abigail's clothes say PINK, it's because they're PINK from Victoria's Secret. Victoria's secret is also my secret.


  9. Ugh, teenage crushes. You should have just told him to move on! Although your inner monologue was hysterical :)

    I wanted to ask why do guys always go for the maneaters, but I guess girls that age typically like the bad boys. Good thing most of us grow up!

  10. That was awesome. I'd totally have misinterpreted the pursed-lip head-shake message as 'duuuude', and then gone on hating my life :/

  11. I LOVE your brain. I love the way daily interactions stay with you and inspire you. So many people would have been too wrapped up in their inconvenience to take notice of what was playing out before them. The posts where you capture these moments are my absolute favorite of yours.

    That poor kid is hopeless and doomed to repeat that interaction over and over. Who knows if Pinky was intentionally cruel or not...but check out guy will never register on her radar. Warning him would have been futile anyway.

    Well done!

  12. Superb post Youngman! The mating game is so interesting, and your astute observations bring it to life.

    Incidentally, after the 10-dollar comment, I'd like to think I would immediately turn out my other pocket and ask, "Does anyone want to see my elephant impersonation?"

  13. Nice post-the young are so dumb and talkative-I prefer the bitter silence of advanced age

  14. Ah yes, the awesomeness of teens nowadays. Sometimes I feel like I'm in my 60s talking about "them youngsters." Sigh. I hope The Maneater doesn't rip that poor kid's still beating heart out of his chest.

  15. That was some kick ass narrative. Really great writing. (I remember when I used to write.)

  16. Youngman, love the new digs.

    I used to manage a grocery story filled with teenagers, so I can certainly relate to this post. And you're right, many would hang around the store on their days off, or come in for no real good reason.

    Oh to be a teenager again... not!

    Enjoyed it!

  17. Holy Moley! I thought this was pretty damned good. It kept my attention all the way through and had me right there with you. Wonderful!

    Is that too much gushing?

    There was always, THAT girl, wasn't there?

  18. I tend to over analyze just like you had this kid doing. Was this a metaphor about me, about my life!? I'll be thinking about this the rest of the day.
    And yes, as you get older the 18 year olds get younger.


  19. A very compelling and well-written post. I really enjoyed reading it and I'm so glad I'm not a teenager anymore.

  20. I have three daughters so I get asked to psychoanalyze way too much teenage drivel. Most of the time my only response is a dumbfounded, blank stare.

    Great post.


When you comment, I vibrate.