The kiosk to order custom cakes was all the way at the back of the store, which really was a warehouse. Enter through the garage doors and past the computers, televisions and other electronics, past outerwear (seasons change, hoodies gone), past books, furniture (again, seasons, so it’s patio tables and pergolas), batteries, then the produce, then the packaged cookies and bread, then finally, after a half mile of smooth concrete, the kiosk.
Typically deserted, today a young woman in an apron was bent slightly digging with a pair of scissors in the slot that should have held the order forms. Her round bottom challenged her jeans and threatened to squeeze her phone out of her pocket like a watermelon seed.
“That’s where all the pens go”, I said looking over her shoulder. She smelled of icing.
“They tear them off of this”, she indicated the squiggly cord that usually held a pen, “And toss them in here or walk off with them…I mean, really…then people come looking for me, I have to find a pen…” Through all this she kept digging.
I proudly held out my pen. “I bring one with me-just in case.”
Having fished out three pens and a quarter she paused and smiled. “Well done! You here a lot?”
A little light went off. “Oh, you’re the five-cake guy.”
“Yep. That’s my mob name, ‘Tommy Five Cakes’ “.
She laughed, flashing a tiny dab of lipstick on her front tooth. “Let me know if you need anything”, she said walking away.
Next stop was the liquor store two blocks down for a couple of bottles and a box. She liked box red as our “maintenance” wine-what we drank instead of killing all the good stuff too quickly. They never had my favorite bourbon so I substituted another that would do the trick. And a bottle of cold Chardonnay for the ride home.
Sliding carefully by, I tried to avoid the pretty girl at the near register. Purple lipstick, same color nails and upswept blonde hair. I imagined a nose stud but wouldn’t look. Nothing but trouble this one. She caught my eye.
“I’ll take you over here”, she said. I stood in front of her register avoiding eye contact waiting for the total so I could insert my card.
“You want your box in a bag?” she asked.
“No”, I said looking up but only slightly. “Nor do I want my bag in a box.”
She froze a moment, then continued with a slight uptick to the corner of her mouth. “You had me for a second.”
“But only for a second”, I said. “You’re too quick for that.”
“Maybe.” It was a real smile when she slid the box and bag my way.
“Have a day”, she said.
This is me flirting now.