It's possible that I have way too much faith in humanity to live in this city. Looking back on the past few weeks, my naivety surprises even me. I've asked two different strangers to drive my car on two separate occasions, and thank God I somehow managed to ask the two people in all of Oregon who didn't steal my car, my purse on the seat next to them, or you know... me. It took me a VERY long time to come to terms with asking people for help and apparently I've now mastered it. All of this, combined with the fact that my life is just one blush-inducing moment after another, leads me to the story that will likely hold the record for humiliation, uncomfortability, and pure shock for all of 2017. You guys, I seriously hope there's nothing that tops this, because I don't think I can handle it.
Let me introduce you to Mack. Mack and I met a few days before 2017. I was sitting alone at a table at Whole Foods when the most adorable 65-70 year old black man walks up to my table, sets down his things and, in more of a statement than a question, says "you don't mind if I sit here, do you". I mean... of course I don't mind. Are you kidding me? It was the joy of my life to sit with Mack, who I immediately dubbed my 'old man soulmate'. He told me a bit about his life, we chatted about New Year's plans (his plans included "being in bed when the clock strikes 12 so everyone knows he made it to the new year - not out getting run over by some maniac"), and we ate our lunch together. It was a scene from a heart-warming indie film. One of the sweetest meetings wth a stranger I've ever had. I told basically everyone I knew about it, because seriously, who does that even happen to?
A few days into the new year I was in Whole Foods* again and ran in to Mack. I couldn't believe he remembered me and the plans I had, and asked me all about them. We joked about how great it was that we both made it to 2017 and thank God 2016 was over and all the things. I learned a little more about his life, and he about mine. Where we live, work, etc. And this just sort of started happening. Not like... every day, but enough for me to think that he was just the sweetest old man who I really enjoyed eating lunch and chatting with. Also, I'll admit, I wondered about any (male) grandchildren he might have.
Anyway, a few days ago I walked into Whole Foods and who do I see, but Mack across the way. He stands up and gives me a hug, happy to see me because he needs to go pick up a few groceries, and he'd like me to watch his things while he's gone. I gladly oblige, and sit, eating my lunch and dreaming of the romantic comedy version of my life where I meet the man of my dreams. We fall deeply in love. He tells me stories of his loving grandfather and how he shaped his life. He takes me home to meet the family and wouldn't you know, that loving grandfather is my very own old man soulmate, Mack! Yeah guys, my brain really went there. I even tweeted about it.
Mack was gone for a good long time. So long I started to get nervous I'd have to leave before he got back. And thankfully so because for what came next, I could not have dealt with one more second. He came back and I told him I just had a few minutes before I had to head back to work. I asked him about where he lives and he told me about the Pearl and how it's changed since he's lived there. It was so interesting for eight minutes and twelve seconds: right up to the moment I said I had to return to work. Seemingly out of left field, he asks what I'm doing after work.
"Just heading home".
Because that's always what I do.
"You ever go to happy hour?".
*Synapses start firing warning signs.*
"Well, do you ever want to grab a drink?"
"I don't drink."
"Well how about I give you my number in case you ever want to get together?"
THIS IS NOT THE LOVING GRANDFATHER THAT SHAPED THE LIFE OF THE MAN OF MY DREAMS.
I can count the number of times I've been hit on on one hand. Okay, fine, on three fingers, so I don't know how to respond to this stuff AT ALL. Especially from a 70ish year old man. I did the only thing that a person in my position could do and put his number in my phone. Wait, that's not what you would do? I'm sorry, what? There's four thousand ways to NOT put his number in my phone? Why was no one there to tell me that before I did it? He told me to "just call him and then he'd have my number" and I said, "Okay! I'm sure I'll see you around!" and then left with the plans to never call him and never see him around and never return to Whole Foods ever again, which is a pretty big hit to my lunch routine, let me tell ya.
I did a weird shuffle back to work, crying/laughing all the way, because how else do you even respond to that? I was equal parts mystified, embarrassed and amused. Then, suddenly, struck by the fact that I've told him way too much about my life. This guy knows where I work. He knows the area I live in. I don't need to go to Whole Foods to see him again, he could show up in my life at any given moment. And it hit me, for the third time this year, that I trust people way too much to survive Portland.
*Yeah, I eat there a lot. It's not a big deal, guys.