The fluorescent light above me buzzed with electricity. I stared at the same patch of linoleum I had been mopping for what felt like half my shift. Suddenly, a light and airy laugh from behind me startled out of my stupor.
I turned to see who had laughed--the best part of this boring supermarket job was the people-watching. I assumed they were a couple, standing and looking at yogurt down the aisle. The guy was tall with bodybuilder muscles and a streak of white in his otherwise dark hair. The girl had a brown braid that reached all the way to her hips and an unmistakable air of youthfulness to her. The guy was doing a funny impression to get her to laugh. They were a good-looking couple. Oh well, back to mopping.
I started seeing the couple more and more, always close and always smiling. I became almost jealous of their obvious intimacy--I was painfully single. If they walked into the store and I was working as a cashier, I always waved. It seemed like they recognized me too.
After a few months, once they really became regulars, something strange happened. One Friday night at the end of my shift, I saw the guy walk in. It wasn’t totally weird for him to be by himself--they shopped alone sometimes. But he was holding hands with another guy.
Okay, maybe they broke up and he’s dating someone else now. But I just saw them here together yesterday… It could be that they’re in an open relationship… but something doesn’t feel right. When I saw them kiss in the cereal aisle, I felt it was my duty to tell the girl the next time she came into the store alone. If he was cheating and I were her, I would want to know, even if it hurt. The worst that could happen was I was wrong and I had an awkward encounter with a customer, and both of those things happened to me on a daily basis.
On Tuesday, I saw her grabbing spices. It was now or never. Time to break this lady’s heart.
“Excuse me?” She turned with a pleasant, open smile. My stomach flipped. “Um, I just wanted to let you know- and I’m sorry for interfering, I just thought that if it was me- anyway, I saw your boyfriend kiss another person. In the store. And I think he might be cheating on you.”
The last thing I expected to happen happened--as soon as I finished, she tilted her head back and let out one of her boisterous laughs, the same one that caught my attention their first time in the store. Storming away, sure. Crying, maybe. But this was not the reaction I expected.
“Oh, honey,” she began. “You’re so adorable.” She laughed again, and at this point it was borderline scary. “Thanks for saying something, but- ha- that’s not my boyfriend. I’m a lesbian, sweetie,” she said with a playful smile. “And he’s gay as hell-we both are. We’re just roommates. I will be teasing him about the PDA, though.”
“So that was-”
“His boyfriend, yes,” she interrupted. “Sweet of you to say something, though. Bye!” And with a pat on my head, she disappeared into the bulk section. Well, time to examine my own heteronormativity, I guess.
A few days later, the bell above the door rang out. I looked up to see four people--the lady, the buff guy, his boyfriend, and a new woman with striking platinum hair. I looked up and instinctively waved. The lady winked back, holding up her hand that was entwined with the other woman’s. I gave her a thumbs up and a smile and tried to bag their groceries extra quickly.