After work today I had to go to the mini market for some supplies. I rode there on my bike and went in. I got everything then went up to the checkout. There was a man in front of me, in the line, and he had a little kid up on his shoulder. The kid couldn't make words very well but it was obvious he had spotted the lollies. I guess the father pretended he couldn't understand his kid because he didn't move an inch, and kept his head straight forward. Then one of the checkout people, an Indian guy, started calling out for the next customer, which was the man in front of me. The man with the kid didn't hear. He was wrapped up in ignoring the kid's lolly lust, I guess. But the checkout guy kept calling and eventually I said hey dude you're next and he heard that and went up.
At that point I could look up at the security monitor and see myself standing at the checkout, which I always do. I spent some time trying to figure out where the camera was located, which was tricky, then I moved my head from side to side and up and down, and shuffled to the left and right, watching my movements on the monitor. But I couldn't enjoy that distraction for long before I got called by one of the checkout people, this time a Japanese girl. I walked up to her and started taking my stuff out of the red plastic basket and told her don't worry about putting it in a bag I'll put it in my backpack.
'Is that for a scooter?'
What? Was she talking to me? Was what for a scooter? Oh. She was talking about my helmet, my silver bicycle helmet, that I was holding in my left hand.
'Oh, this? No, this is for a bicycle. It's a bicycle helmet,' I said.
'It looks amazing! It doesn't look like a bicycle helmet.'
Her face was animated. Her eyes were shining. She was smiling.
'No, it looks like a robot head, or a futuristic army helmet,' I said.
She laughed, her face seeming to radiate a pure and mysterious joy.
'What is that TNT on it? Is that who made it?'
This girl. This strange girl with her questions. And I was already falling, enchanted and falling.
'Yeah, I guess so. Yep, that must be it,' I said, looking down at the TNT ('There's No Tougher') sticker.
I believe we could have continued in this way for ever, discussing my robot head bicycle helmet, and maybe even other things, but there was the line, other people who wanted to pay for their stuff and get home.
With not a little reluctance I said thanks and goodbye. She still had that big smile, her whole face was smiling. And her eyes!
My God. But wasn't it all really a simple, small thing? She was only fascinated by my strange-looking bicycle helmet, wasn't that it? Yet why did it affect me so much? Did it somehow get into my mad head that it could have been more than that? Of course it did. This girl, who was clearly half my age, was using her fascination with my robot helmet as a clever way to start a conversation in the hope that it would lead to me asking her out. Of course, that couldn't be it. What a crazy idea! No, it was really only an innocent conversation, after all. ... But was it?
etc. etc., on and on until the sun explodes...