Seeking Perfection (500Words, Round 3, Day 4, 2/15/18)
He stood frozen in the aisle completely overwhelmed by all the choices. A glance up told him that he was in the French section. Was that where he should be? Was there some other country that would be better suited? He hung his head, his shoulders sagged, and he felt nauseous. This shouldn’t be this hard. He was an adult. He had to be an adult right now.
“Can I…do you need help?”
He snapped up and took a few steps back, knocking into the shelves of wine behind him before answering, “No!” It came out too loud and sharp – he could tell by the expression on the woman’s face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bark. I’m just-“
“Hey, no problem. I will leave you be. You just looked a bit lost and I thought I might be able to help.” She nodded and moved past him down the aisle.
“Wait!” Again, it came out too loud. “I’m sorry,” he said in a more level voice. “I do need…I am lost. Help would be good.”
She smiled and put her basket down on the floor. As she did, he quickly checked for a wedding ring and was relieved to find one sitting on her left hand. She should be safe enough.
“I need to find a bottle of wine.”
She didn’t lose her smile as she nodded and said, “well, at least you found the right aisle. These are, indeed, bottles of wine. Step 1, complete.” Seeing him blush, she added, “Hey – that was just a little joke. To calm you down? You’re wound up as tight as a virgin on prom night!”
His eyes bulged and he took a step back. Her eyebrows shot up and she reached out a hand. “Hey, ok. No more jokes. I promise. You need to find a bottle of wine. I take it you’re not a big wine drinker?”
He swallowed and nodded. “I. I need it for dinner. I drink wine at restaurants, just not at home. I’ve never had to choose a bottle before.”
“That makes total sense.” She ignored his nervousness and focused on the puzzle at hand. “Two questions for you – how do you choose what wine to order, and what are you having for dinner?”
“At restaurants? I always order second and just get the same wine as someone else at the table. I don’t even say the name – I just point to whoever I’m going to copy and say ‘I’ll have the same’ before the waiter moves on.” He watched her carefully for signs of another joke. It seemed safe enough to keep going. “For dinner, I’m cooking Alfredo pasta, grilled chicken, asparagus, and bread. Well, I’m buying the bread. I’m cooking the rest.”
“Sounds lovely.” She folded her arms across her chest and looked at the bottles in front of them. “When you get wine at restaurants, are you happier with the reds or the whites?”
“I’m happiest with the ones that bubble.” He felt shy offering that up and was pretty sure that was the wrong answer.
* This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *