People say that once you get your mission call the boys start appearing. I expected this to mean that nice Mormon boys would start to look at me twice (or even once for that matter) and after a demure flutter of my eyelashes I would have to tenderly decline their proposal (for a date, marriage, family, etc.)
This was not the reality.
Once upon a summer day I was at Walmart stocking up on groceries for my happy family of four. As I examined strawberries, which were on sale, I heard someone behind me say something about "beautiful," but I didn't catch much else. I figured it was an off-hand comment about the strawberries, and turned around to find a man 6 inches away from my face. I gave him a confused smile and he repeated himself, "Brown. It's a beautiful color." I happened to be wearing a brown dress.
"Oh, thank you. I think so too." I said, thinking that would be the end of the conversation.
He proceeded to gush about the color brown. "What color is the earth? Blue, green, and brown." And he gave me this look like, obviously! "The colors of France are brown and blue--"
??? WHAT ???
The colors of France are definitely red, blue, and white.
After his prose on how wonderful the color brown is, he asked my name. I gave it to him. He took my hand, "Elisabeth, it is so nice to meet you." This is when things got . . . uncomfortable . . .
He. Kissed. My. Hand.
That is more action than I've ever gotten and it was wet and gross. And inappropriate. I delicately withdrew, wondering when this exchange was going to end.
"My name is Maurice, it's French."
This was too much. At this point, I had to play along with the absurdity. "Maurice, it is so nice to meet you."
The conversation--or his monologuing--continued. Things about how he wears a three piece suit and pocket watch to Sunday services. How he was born in the wrong decade and should have lived in the 1920s. How his mother doesn't wear make-up and that's why he prefers women who don't--obviously!--(which I found insulting, by the way). All the while he kept touching my hands, which were resting on my cart.
"Tell me, Elisabeth, what do you like to do when you have free time."
"I love to cook--hence being at the grocery store."
"Elisabeth, we were just made for each other. Men think that they have to spend a bunch of money--especially when their goal is to [insert air quotes here] 'have sex', but when I want to treat a woman right, I like to take her to my house, make her a home-cooked meal and feed her by hand--"
That is disgusting.
More monologuing. "The name Elisabeth is Hebrew, you know." (Actually, it's the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Elisheba, but whatever.)
"Well, Elisabeth, would you like to shop together?"
!!!! NO !!!!
"You know, Maurice, I kind of have a busy day, so I'm just running in and out." That was a big fat lie. I was there to stock up. I had just walked in the store when he pounced on me and I had a good hour of shopping left.
"I completely understand. How can I give you my number?"
Thank you so much for not asking for mine. "You can write it on this note pad." The note pad that had the first vision in Spanish written on it because I had been memorizing it that morning.
"If you have your phone, you could save it in there."
Yeah, right. "You know, the note pad is better, I live by it."
"Elisabeth, I totally understand that. I'm a creator--" What does that even mean? "--so I keep a notebook with me all the time to write down my ideas."
"That is so good." Who is this guy?
He writes down his number. "My name is Maurice, it's French." Got it. But if you were really that cool, you wouldn't be shopping in a Walmart right now. That kind of cramps your style in a major way.
"Tell me Elisabeth, when can I expect you to call."
"I'm not really sure of my schedule."
"I understand. Elisabeth, let me just tell you how I am with women. If you don't call in the next 3 days, I'll forget this conversation. So I need to to call within 3 days so I remember who you are."
Wow. Because that doesn't make you seem like a total tool.
"Maurice, thank you so much for letting me know."
"It was so nice to meet you, Elisabeth. I saw you from across the parking lot--" creepy. "--and thought, if I run into her, I need to tell her how beautiful she looks." creepy squared. "I look forward to hearing from you."
I make an indistinct sound, smile, wave, and bolt.
I can't walk into a Walmart without feeling like someone is watching me.
Let me just tell you, this man was definitely at least 20 years older than me. So even if I bought into is attempt at Euro-chic, I've seen "An Education" (Scherfig, 2009)--I know how these things end.