It is a Monday when I arrive at the Target store. I have a goal in mind, as every shopper has before they get sidetracked by the deals Target displays like a new kind of cure for cancer. I am here to get some clothes and some electronics, and I will not be distracted by anyone or anything in this store. I want to get back in my warm apartment and continue bonding with my email client before I bond with my Microsoft Word document and then my Netflix account. I make my way to a place that I have to go to before anywhere else; the customer service desk so I can have an employee guide me around the store.
Arriving at the customer service department takes a while because very helpful people point and tell me that its back “that way.” I assume it’s further than over there. Eventually I walk along until I see the glaringly white sign overhead. I stand behind some teenagers who are not much younger than I am. The two teens look as if they have taken a recent ecstasy pill as they tell the clerk that their DVD player they bought here really did break and they need to, like, kind of return it brotha!
After 20 more minutes of standing there they finally realize I won’t take as long as them and let me go ahead of them. In a few minutes a Target employee falls out of heaven and steps up to me. This hunk is definitely eye candy. Standing at a whopping six feet he wears good body physique like a new kind of skin. He’s thin, yet a bit muscular. He’s wearing a short sleeve shirt that gives me a clear view at his lean arms. His skin looks like it has been dipped in a vat of dark chocolate and his voice is a soothing trance that has me from the sentence “I’m josh. It’s so wonderful to meet you. I’ll be helping you shop today.”
I can’t grab his sturdy elbow fast enough when he offers it. His skin is very smooth – the effects of frequent lotion and showers. At least I know that hygiene is one of his priorities. This deduction is emphasized the longer he smiles at me – a hypnotist’s secret weapon. His demeanor is so friendly Chucky Cheese would give him a standing ovation.
It’s a chore to remember my shopping list as we stroll on a private yellow brick road together, me grilling him with all sorts of questions just so his gentle syllables can give me an auditory massage for the rest of the day. The shampoo, deodorant, and items I’m supposed to be getting all seem very unimportant as I learn that his favorite hobby is watching Sherlock on Netflix, he cooks because he likes to test his creativity and he reads books because he’s a book whore. Since we’re both bibliophiles, I ask him who his favorite authors are.
Josh rattles off J. R. R. Tolkien, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck, Christopher A. Hubert, and Philip Pullman along with many others… as I clutch his firm elbow with a death grip I try to see if he has a ring on his finger. I don’t see one on either hand so my hope springs even higher. I’m not sure how to ask him if he’s gay though. This isn’t a gay hub so I can’t waggle my flirtation around as if it’s a salacious bootie. When we are choosing underwear for me I ask if he has a girlfriend. He tells me no, but I don’t want to ask if he has a boyfriend. Josh doesn’t have a lisp and I don’t have good enough site to pick up any stereotypical visual cues. I ask, instead, if he lives alone. He does. Out of sheer desperation I ask him which pair I should get, the name brand or a cheaper brand. He gives me a professional opinion.
After I check out my various items I learn that he loves video games as well and he has two cats at home. I still have no idea if he is gay or not and the wonderment is chewing my sanity to bits. He’s such a catch, but I don’t know how to ask if he’s gay in a public place when he’s on the job, for fear of the employees who say hi to him will overhear the answer. What if he is gay but isn’t out at the workplace because his boss is a homophobic twat?
My cab is late and this gives us even more time to bond. I even pose a few sarcastic quips that make him laugh heartedly. I learn that he works very hard. He learns that I’m a journalist that writes for various media, including the Windy City Times. When I say the Windy City Times, the largest gay paper in Chicago, there’s hesitation. I immediately want to know if he is, in fact, gay. Just as I begin to ask if he is gay, the cab pulls up and the driver barks at us from the driver’s seat, adding insult to my wishful thinking. When we walk to the cab, I imagine that we’re walking slower. When I get in, he makes sure I’m buckled in, and then leans in the window.
“It was very nice to meet you Robert.” He says with a smile that would give any model competition. I smile back, wondering if he does this to all his customers. There’s no way for me to tell. I hope I develop a reason to come back in a few days. I hope he’s still here. The cab driver barks at me in such broken English it’s a wonder his syllables come together, asking me where I’m going. All of a sudden josh goes to the driver’s side of the cab. All I hear is the driver saying yes. The two converse in Spanish. This makes me want to Mary josh even more. He comes back around to say goodbye to me and then we race back home, the cab slightly swerving the entire way.
When we reach the apartment complex I fish out bills for the cab fare.
: no.” the driver barks at me.
“Huh? What do you mean no?”
“No. no money. You no money.” I’m confused so I continue to press him.
“I don’t understand what you’re telling me at all.”
“You no pay.”
“Why? I don’t understand.” The driver speaks in a mix of English and Spanish, so I ask again.
“Target guy pay for you.” to my shock he places a wad of bills in my hand to demonstrate his meaning. I don’t know what to say, so I smile, and thank the driver. Josh paid for my ride home, including a little extra. Feeling as if I’ve been granted a mansion, I step out of the cab in a bath of bliss. The smile doesn’t leave my face, even as I lay in bed that night.