Pork Tenderloins, 2.49 a pound.
To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into, moving into an apartment with my decidedly hippie-tastic best friend and his cousin. I was a somewhat attractive (if I did say so myself) single woman, just graduated college, and they were both exceedingly attractive single men. As for Ducey, my best friend, I had about as much romance in mind for him as I would a hamster. I'm sorry, but if your idea of a hot date is going to the vegan fair, no thank you.
What can I say, I like me some rare, bloody steaks.
But Tom? Tom I never had a chance with. He was one of those good looking guys who had absolutely no idea how handsome he was. He was a gentlemehn, a wonderful guy. So I looked at him as I did Ducey, a roommate and a friend.
Usually, I went grocery shopping for the apartment. I knew how to clip coupons like nobody's business, and how to find the good quality generic brands of anything. And as three young adults just out of college making our way in the world, saving money was a good thing.
Except Ducey had this habit of wanting everything vegetarian and organic. So eventually Tom and I made him shop for his own food at Whole Foods so he wouldn't yell at us for buying deliciously chemicalized lettuce or whatever.
The growth hormones in beef make it taste better, I swear.
So, I did the shopping, Tom did maintenance, as he was a fully trained carpenter, and Ducey? I think he enjoyed cleaning. But we weren't about to argue if that's what he liked to do. He even organized my shoe closet one day when I was at work.
"Hey, Rosie, did you add frozen waffles to the list?"
I looked up from the grocery list, to see Tom walking in the door from his day at work. He set down his tool belt on the table, and turned to look at the list.
"Not yet," I replied, and penciled it in on the bottom. "I'm getting ready to leave, wanna come?"
Tom grinned, and said, "Sure, just let me change out of these nasty ass clothes real quick." He bounded into the room he shared with Ducey, and I finished checking the list and the cupboards. Tom didn't usually come shopping with me, as he normally worked later than I went. But I'd been kept later at my own job as a kindergarten teacher's aide, dealing with a troublemaking child and his parents.
As soon as I finished my check, Tom came out, dressed in clean jeans and a button down stripey shirt. Tom had this casual style that made him seem very approachable. He was quite different from flaky Ducey, who wore birkenstocks and white linen pants and awful seventies style tunics, complete with the horrible color combos. Ducey was just precious, and we loved him in spite of his bad fashion choices.
I pulled on my raincoat, and out the door we went. Tom drove, his Dodge pick up a monstrosity. But it did a lot better in the pouring rain than my tiny and ancient Lebaron. We kept up a happy chatter of our respective work days, Tom on his wet construction site and I dealing with wild five year olds. We pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store, and ran for all we were worth to avoid getting soaked.
Once inside, Tom pulled out the cart and off we went.
I had this ridiculous joy about grocery shopping. I don't know why, since I'm not particularly a foodie or anything. And it was even more fun when I managed to get Tom to come with me. We made jokes about the advertising and packaging (really, we were hilarious, I swear), and had fun calling to each other across the aisles.
I'm sure the employees thought we were nuts.
"Pork tenderloins!" Tom said, excitedly. He pointed at the loins in question. "Not only are they pork, but they are tender."
I rolled my eyes. "Like I'm going to cook you tenderloins. Ducey would go into his closet and cry that Babe was slaughtered for our enjoyment."
"I can cook tenderloins," Tom said, wiggling his eyebrows mischievously. "And they're 2.49 a pound," he added, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. "You can't beat a price like that."
The deli worker looked at him like he was insane, and I smiled with a roll of my eyes. "You can tender my loins anytime, Tommy," I said, taking on a high pitched voice, and leaning back into his arm "Take me now, in the meat department!"
"Aye, but I sadly only have 2.48 in change, and you weight more than one pound," he growled, and dipped me back like a bad romance movie.
"Are you going to buy the tenderloins or not?" The deli worker snapped. I jumped at his irritated voice, and nearly fell, but Tom righted me.
"Sorry, didn't mean to bother you," he said, fighting the urge to laugh. He grabbed the cart and wheeled it down the cereal aisle. Once we were out of direct eyesight, we cracked into giggles.
"What dirty jokes can we make about cereal?" I asked, stifling my giggles as a curious man walked by.
Tom hmmed, and stroked his chin as he gazed at the boxes. "Well, this one's a toughie. I can make a great deal of bad jokes about Special K, but nothing entirely dirty comes immediately to mind."
I quirked a half smile, and held up a box of Lucky Charms. "Ye're after me lucky charms!" I said, in a completely horrible Irish facsimile of an accent.
"Do you think that if I manage to charm you enough, I'll get lucky?"
"Not in front of the leprechaun!" I said, putting a finger to his lips. "But there's a distinct possibility. I mean, after all, they ARE magically delicious."
Tom bit his lip to keep from laughing as I put the box of cereal in the cart along with our apples, ground chuck for burgers, and ketchup. We wheeled the cart towards the dairy section, and Tom couldn't help but make some very interesting comments about buttering me up.
Tom and I usually had a good time at the grocery store, but this time it was... just that much more funny. We'd been living together for three months, Ducey always trying to throw us together, and I don't think either of us really realized that the other was as intensely amazing as we were. At least, not until we hit the frozen food aisle and Tom pulled out a package of hot tamales.
"So, Rosie," Tom said, showing me. "You're the hottest tamale I've ever seen."
Now, going along with our running commentary of our grocery shopping thus far, that wasn't exactly unusual for him to say. Especially since his tone was as conversational as ever. I chuckled a bit, and looked up at him as I reached to grab some frozen burritos. The look on his face was serious, with a hint of smile at his lips.
"You," he said, taking the burritos from me, and putting them in the cart. "Are the hottest tamale I've ever seen." He turned, and crossed the aisle to pick up the frozen waffles he oh so desired. I stared after him, wondering if it was one of his jokes or if his serious expression meant something more. "Do you like Eggos? I mean, every time I see the commercials now I think of Legolas. Leggo my Eggo."
Some people fall in love at candlelight dinners, and some people fall in love over sappy love songs. I fell in love in the frozen foods aisle.
"Tom?" I said, not answering his question. I took the box of Eggos from his hand. He looked down at me questioningly. I wanted to say something clever, like the hot tamales or the pork tenderloins. But blast my girly brain, I was blindsided by his beautiful blue eyes. So, I did the first thing that came to mind.
I kissed him.
He kissed me back, pulling me closer. In the process let the door to the freezer swing closed with a bang, and the sound made us jump apart. We looked at each other, and smiled.
"So, onward to the ice cream?" he asked, taking hold of the cart. I grabbed his elbow, and we walked along.
"Definitely," I replied. "After all, I've heard chocolate syrup is... wonderful when utilized correctly."
Tom cackled at the sultry tone my voice took on, and I couldn't help but join in.