Corn on the Cob

07/05/2009 By Shawn Burns

Erin and I  scythed through the grocery store, intent on our goals, when we were abrupted in our progress by the Stereotypical College Guy.

Stereotypical College Guy had been thinking about his workout all day long. He began thinking about it early in the morning while he was still sleeping off the whiskey sours and tequila shots from the night before. He continued to think about it while he dressed himself from the “Not quite Sentient” pile of clothes in the corner of his room. He sorted through the white t-shirts and ridiculously long shorts on the floor until he found some that could take another workout, then he selected one set from his four pairs of high top running shoes and bolted out the door, ready to hit the gym for squats and chest presses, it being Friday, and Friday being Legs & Chest day.

He realized as he was leaving that he was out of groceries. He’d been eating in more often as the summer progressed and the on-campus eateries lost their bustle and luster. Eating alone was easier at home than at the cafeteria in the middle of the summer, when the odds of being approached at table by people he’d never acknowledge except to mock with his friends increased exponentially. Rather than face the press of lonely nerds, he would cook for himself, as far as he was able.

So instead of heading straight to the gym he reluctantly approached the grocery store to stock up on supplies. It was his misfortune, and mine, that he happened to be in the produce section at the exact moment Erin and I approached with our cart. We were after some ears of corn, because I was going to make a roasted corn and black-eyed pea salsa for a 4th of July barbecue the next day. I searched out the closest bag dispenser to the corn and found it situated adjacent to Stereotypical College Guy. He was unrolling the roll, and muttering to himself as he did so.

“…so that’s four, and what the hell? Where am I…hmmm….”

He sensed me standing next to him with my cart and my kid and my corn, and he spent some more time rolling, and unrolling bags.

Then he stopped, unstooped himself (the dispenser being located in the body of a bin rather than on a hook above) and walked away with his head held high and shoulders back, with someplace very important and deliberate to go and no time to waste on boring things like corn.

I watched him march away to the other side of the corn bin where he stood, staring at a wall lined with flowers for sale. Ah, a floraphile who’s just realized that hibiscus were in season, no doubt.

I reached down, tore off one of the many bags he had rolled away from the dispenser and dumped my husks inside. Then Erin and I continued through the produce section (mushrooms, an onion, some bananas, and a red bell pepper were all on my list, though not all for the salsa) while I kept a suspicious eye trained on Stereotypical College Guy.

He confirmed my suspicions and my disappointment in humanity when he returned to the bag dispenser soon after I’d left it to tear off a single bag at the now-obvious seam, open the bag, and place an ear of corn inside.

But what earthly reason could he have for thinking that he could cook corn if he couldn’t even figure out how the bag dispenser worked, cuffing away at it like a Neanderthal at a vacuum cleaner?

“Erin,” I said as I pushed my cart with head shaking ruefully, “that is why you aren’t allowed to date boys until you are thirty.”