An Organic Being

Here’s a riddle. What combines the flu, flirting, horrible awkwardness, and a fantastic bargain?

If you said my day earlier this week (mine, not yours), you’d be right. Well, I guess to be fair, you might be right about yours, but you’d definitely be right about mine.

So, yeah, the drugstore isn’t the first place I think of when I think of picking up dates, but apparently that’s why I’m losing the game to this guy who, for lack of a better idea and because I have to call him something, I’ll call Dave. And the funny part about this story is that Dave’s not all that much unlike me. He’s socially awkward, a bit of a geek, and probably ultimately harmless. But all I know of Dave I learned from the other side of a partition in the vaccination administration booth at the back of a Walgreen’s, so it’s entirely possible I’ve misread him. If that’s the case, Dave, my bad, bro.

I’m standing in line waiting to get the flu vaccine (a thing I have to do since 1)I’m a teacher and 2) I have toddlers and infants living in my house) and I hear a technician (what do you call the person who gives you a shot at Walgreen’s? Not a nurse, certainly. Orderly? Clerk? Technician sounds best, so I’ll go with that) explaining to her patient (again, it’s the best word I can think of under the circumstance) that he’ll feel a pinch and then some pressure, and then it’ll be done.

Without batting an eye or hesitating at all, Dave responds, “yeah, I might pass out, so if you could just keep talking to me, that’d be great.” And the technician stutters and stammers a little bit, obviously somewhat taken aback. So Dave goes on. “Yeah, I kind of get grossed out if I think of myself as an organic being, so I really need to keep my mind off the needle.” And the tech says, “Oh, I see.”

“Oh, I see” is one of those phrases which almost never means in context what it literally says. “Oh, I see” is one of those things you say when a stamp collector explains to you the differences between his 1919 French Revival printing (or whatever) and 1921 New Orleans Renaissance iterations of the same stamp. It’s a thing you say when you accidentally wander into a room and everybody’s wearing masks and holding daggers and they point to the sign on the door that says “invite only”. “Oh, I see” really means, “god help me, how do I get away from this situation?”

And I bet that she would have actually gotten up and walked away had Dave not kept talking. He starts asking her if she likes beer, and then starts rattling on about this local brewery that makes a wicked (his word) ale this time of year, and she should really try it. Then she excuses herself, because y’know, she actually has a job to do, and Dave asks if he can just sit in the chair for another five minutes or so because he’s afraid he might pass out, and could she come check on him again before he leaves?

Look, I know that you can’t pick the moment when fate throws that special somebody into your path. And in some ways, I kinda admire Dave and his tenacity — the way he kept on trying not to let her walk away from him like some poor little broken robot just trying like hell to fulfill its programming. But, dammit, the fargoing Walgreen’s is not the place for romance, okay? It’s flu season. This poor woman is probably overworked and in contact with sick people for the better part of every day, she does not need you making a pass at her under the cover of your vaccination. Okay, Dave? Okay!?!

In my mind, Dave slipped her his phone number as he left, and she blushed a bit, and the whole encounter left her flattered and curious and maybe a little bit twitterpated and weak in the knees, and THAT is why she inexpertly jabbed the needle into my arm and kept me there impaled like an insect in an entomologist’s study for what felt like an eternity. Because I refuse to believe that she’s that bad at giving inoculations on the regular. She can’t be. There would be lawsuits.

In short, I really hope things worked out between Dave and the Walgreen’s Tech. Because if she fargoed up my arm for no good reason, that would be a shame, but if she did it for love, then I guess that’s okay.

Oh, I forgot the part about the fantastic bargain. My insurance covered the stabbing attack on my arm, so it was free of charge. (I know, kind of a let down, right?) No, actually, upon further reflection, the bargain is that I am now in possession of the phrase, “I get kind of grossed out when I think of myself as an organic being,” which I am totally working into my next novel somehow.

This post is part of SoCS. The prompt this week was one of the five words, “bat”, “bet”, “bit”, “bot”, and “but”. I’m pretty sure I snuck them all in here.