A Wandering Frenchman Approaches You in the Checkout Line at the Atlantic Avenue Target

By Chris Chafin

assorted bottle and cans
Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

A random Sunday, and you’ve popped into Target and have somehow taken 45 minutes to buy three things you don’t actually need. Your husband is bored in line and leaves you… it’s just then that a cartoonishly handsome Frenchman in a beret and rumpled suit emerges from a rack of reasonably priced workout leggings, holding a glass of wine and a shopping basket. Catching your eye, he casually walks to you.


This line, huh? Stretches infinitely, like the human capacity for despair. . . or pleasure, yes? Let’s stand and talk a minute while that swollen man in a basketball jersey wanders into the electronics section. He’s your husband? He must be very brave to win the heart of a woman like you, and to wear a sleeveless shirt with his body.


What’s that you got there? Ah, frozen TGI Friday’s chicken poppers, five bags of mango chunks, and a throw pillow? Fascinating. I have boxer briefs, a DVD of John Wick 2, and a daily moisturizer with SPF, because I care for my skin as I will care for you. Let us explore the mysteries of our lives together.


That smell in the air — it’s intoxicating. What scent do you wear?


Oh, it’s popcorn?


I love popcorn.


Maybe I sound like a lothario, lurking inside the United States’ second-largest discount retailer and looking for an easy mark. To this I say: there’s nothing easy about you. You’re as fascinatingly complex as the traffic patterns outside Barclay’s stadium, as unknowable as the schedule of the G train, as mythic as an affordable condo. Just let me be here, with you.


Let’s leave this line together and run wildly through the store. I will happily watch you try on reasonably priced straw hats. Let’s test foundations on your hand. Do you want to smell all of the candles together and talk about which are gross and which are actually kind of nice? I will never tire of this. Just to be in your presence is nearly all the thrill I can handle.

Or, no, I am alarming you, I am unaccustomed to the mores of this borough. Ah, je suis bête! Je suis désolée! Let’s start small. I will buy you a frappuccino while you tell me about an annoying work email you just got — and on the weekend! Ridiculous. But I’m here for you. I will always be here for you. If you’ll let me.


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