Five Minutes in Philly


She was tall and blond. He was taller and had reddish hair. They were both at Rite Aid in Valley Forge. Matthew had come in for his hair gel, LA Look, to maintain his spiked hair.
He saw her in aisle 12.
“I have trouble finding hair products for men,” he said, testing the waters.
“Me, too,” she said, giving him a little smile.
Was she with a guy? Engaged? Married?

Nope, no ring.
“It’s hard to find a tall blond man that is half happy,” she said, scooping up two big bottles, one pink and one gray.
Waters tested.
“I’m a very happy man,” Matthew said, fondling his box of hair gel. “Would you be open to having coffee?”
“I’d like to be asked to go to a dance,” she said.
“Dancing is my thing!” he said.
That’s how Matthew made a date in a drugstore. After asking for and getting her address and phone number, he set it up for the next week. He would call on Thursday to confirm their date on Friday, once he found a dance venue.
Thursday night she confirmed the date, and Friday night Matthew looked for her painted brownstone. They all looked alike, but he finally found it, parked his car, and ascended the steps to her front stoop.
The doorbell was the old-fashioned kind, strong clang clangs that decreased in volume like a rubber band unwinding.
She opened the door.
“I’ll be right out,” she said.
“Should I meet your parents?” Matthew asked.
“No,” she said. “Just wait.”
She came outside in a dress, sweater and heels. It was going to be a good date. They got into his blue Saab and were halfway down the block when she pulled out a little bag.
“Do you like to party?” she asked.
“Sure,” Matthew said, keeping his eyes on the road. “I like parties.”
“No,” she said. “Do you like to party? Do you like drugs?”
Matthew realized that the bag didn’t contain aspirin.
“Do you like white powder?” she asked.
His drugstore girl was a druggie. He wasn’t going to stoop to her level. He took a right turn and looked for a two-way street to go back to her brownstone.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “Where are you going?”
“Home,” Matthew said. “I feel a migraine coming on.”
“So no date?” she asked. “I am so disappointed.”
“Me, too,” he said.
“Are you coming back later?” she asked.
Matthew waited at the bottom of the steps until she was inside her brownstone. He pulled away and drove to the venue without her.
He learned to avoid picking up women over hair products.

Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If Matthew would’ve partied with the drugstore girl, he would’ve been arrested on the way home, booked for possession of a controlled substance, served time in the county jail, and gone on to become a minister and youth pastor to keep inner city kids off of drugs. He would’ve met and married a social worker and they would’ve dedicated their lives to helping underprivileged youth. He would’ve coached basketball at the YMCA until he tore his Achilles heel. Then they would’ve retired to Florida to be closer to her sister, Irene.

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