I approach her, coyly.
Do not get me wrong. The fact that I have mentioned that she is blonde is just there to set the scene, and to give readers a vivid sense of place. Although it is accepted as a stereotype, it is not at all necessarily true that girls who are blonde are more ‘up for it’ than girls with other types of hair, and judging people by the colour of their hair is foolish in any case.
Although it is true that you never, ever, ever see blonde nuns. So it might be that more dark-haired females are taken away from the sexual marketplace, thus meaning that on a purely scientific and mathematical average basis, girls who are blonde are more up for it.
I am a bit nervous about speaking to her. Recently, I seem to have lost all my confidence when it comes to speaking to women, as if the past twentyish years never happened and I am in my mid-teens again. It is not that I am particularly shy, it’s just that the only topics I can think of to talk about are the late thirtysomething equivalent of programs for the ZX Spectrum and the meaning of Jethro Tull lyrics, viz bowls and chickens.
I clear my throat.
“Have you got anything for athlete’s foot?” I ask.
She looks at me with beautiful eyes.
“Is it powdery and flaky, or gungey and weepy?” she asks.
The conversation is already out of control – I am sure there is nothing in the ‘how to stop being a sad loser and get off with shop assistants – GUARANTEED’ self-help books about this.
“Erm – gungey and weepy I guess,” I reply. I have blown it already.
“This is the most popular thing we have,” she offers. “It comes in a cream or a spray – which would you like?”
I hesitate. She has asked me a ‘closed’ question – a sure way of terminating the conversation. But if I am clever, I can keep her going – I do not have to reply with a simple single-word answer.
“Well it’s between my little toe and the one next to it, so I think a spray would be a bit difficult. I think cream would be better?” I reply, raising the pitch of my voice a little at the end to indicate a question, which will both extend the dialogue between us and flatter her by asking her for an opinion.
“Cream it is then,” she replies flatly. Damn!!!
I leave the shop with my cream. I am not currently in the market for dating, strictly speaking, but it is always good to keep your hand in – just in case. As I go, I remember that I have forgotten to play the sympathy card – this is how out of practice that I am.
I administer the medication on my return home. It is very, very sore and hurts a lot.