“A Run to the Grocery Store”

She made her way down the poorly lit aisle in the meat department. He finished playing the lotto in the convenience store. They stood shoulder to shoulder on the shelf, squabbling away at each other as to who would be chosen. 

“It’s gonna be me!” the first exclaimed. 

“No, it’s gonna be me!” the second spat back. 

“Hey!” the oscillating ceiling fan shouted. “You two better knock it off, or neither of you’ll be goin’ home any time soon!” The second was becoming anxious. 

“Look, Heinz,” he said, “You’re a popular guy ‘round these shelves. You’ve got the taste, the versatility, and red looks really good on you!” Heinz was blushing. “Me, well, I’m just a bottle of semi-spicy yellow — an ugly yellow!”

 After locating the hot dogs, she needed for a family barbecue, she realized they would not be complete without some condiments. He oversaw making dinner for his dorm room that night, so he was sticking to the list that his roommates scribbled out for him; the recipe called for something savory, which beckoned him towards aisle six. 

“No, don’t say that about yourself, Dijon!” Heinz reassured him. “You just gotta relax, take a deep breath, and sooner or later, the right customer will come along and find just what they’re looking for; that’ll be you, pal.” Dijon, consoled by his friend, started to feel better. “We’ve been through lots together: rejections, stare-downs, expiration date-lookers, being shoved to the back of the shelf—” 

“Heinz,” said Dijon, “I get it. We have gone through thick and thin together, sometimes because we were deemed too thick or thin to the likings of some customers,” he rolled his eyes in weariness.

“I know!” Heinz replied. “But today is different; we’re close, I can feel it!” 

A soft, jazzy piano melody filtered out of the store speakers into her ears. She recognized it from one of the listening assignments she handed in to her professor. Although not a virtuoso, the music seemed to make his shopping cart roll effortlessly down the tile floors. Then, they spotted what they had been looking for all along: “Oh, here’s the ketchup!” she said in relief. 

“And here’s the mustard! Now I can go back to my dorm—” he glanced up at the girl standing in front of him holding the bottle of Heinz. She was gorgeous, breathtakingly gorgeous. And the guy who just grabbed that Dijon mustard was so handsome, she was at a loss for words. They couldn’t speak, and for a moment, all that could be heard was the piano playing through the speakers and the wind from the fan blowing above them. 

“See!” the fan exclaimed. “I told y’all you’d get your match!”

Still, the pair remained silent, their tongues flopping in their mouths like fish out of water searching for something to say. “Just say hello, why don’t ya!” Dijon grumbled. “Seriously, Heinz, kids can’t communicate like they used to anymore, all using their ChatSnaps, an’ Insta-Toks, an’—”

“I think you mean Snapchat and Instagram,” Heinz replied, “but nice try. And yeah, just say hello already!” 

Taking the hint, she started the conversation: “I guess we both found what we were looking for.” 

“Yeah,” he replied, “I guess so.” He glanced down nervously at his shoes, then looked up at her. He noticed the sweatshirt she was wearing had the words “Molloy College” in red, with a roaring lion underneath them. That’s crazy that she goes to the same college as me, he thought. Funny I’ve never seen her around… 

“I should probably get going,” the girl started as she turned around to leave. 

“Wait!” he said. “I noticed your sweatshirt, and I go to the same college as you. I was wondering if you’d like to come back to my dorm with me. Me and my roommates are throwing a dinner party, and I don’t have anyone to bring along.” 

A dinner party? she thought to herself. I’ve never been to one of those before. And it is nearing semester break, and I already studied for that last final, so — “Sure!” she said, finally. “I’d love to go.” 

“Great! You can bring that ketchup along, I’m sure somebody will need it for something.” Heinz was grinning from label end to label end.