I ran into my first-ever boyfriend at Trader Joe’s

by singlemomseeking on September 9, 2008

We’d met on a Jewish youth retreat during my freshman year of high school. E. was the first boy I’d really kissed. He’d always reminded of Billy Idol. Maybe it was his hair cut.

I’d actually tried to find him five years ago, after moving back to California. It was one of those classic moments when I was having frozen yogurt with one of my new single mom friends — and our kids. E. and I used to have frozen yogurt at this same place.

So, I’d said out loud, “I always wondered what happened to E.–”

And my friend, who’s also Jewish, blurted out his name.

“You know him?” I said.

“I grew up with him,” she said. “Our families are friends.”

She got his number for me, with a warning: she told me that he probably hadn’t changed much since high school. He’d never been much of a communicator. We only went out for a few months. He always wanted to make out. I don’t remember us talking much.

I called. I left him a long, rambling message. I probably giggled.

He never called back.


Flash forward 20 years after our first kiss.

This weekend, M and I rode our bikes to Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t exactly wearing my first date skirt.

I’d just showered. My hair was back in a braid, and flat on top from my helmet. I had on baggy shorts and flip flops.

M pulled me into the frozen aisle for ice cream. That’s when I saw him, walking towards me.



We recognized each other. We stopped in between the bonbons and frozen berries. I held my breath.

Then I remembered M. I introduced her. She said, “Can I get some spanokopita, too?”

Then she wandered further down the frozen aisle.

I asked him if he ever got my message.

“No,” he said. “I travel a lot for work, I might have missed it.”

I didn’t really believe him. But I couldn’t read him. That’s how it was back then, in high school. There was no expression on his face.

“I’m making a pumpkin pie,” he told me.

“But it’s not Thanksgiving quite yet,” I teased him.

He didn’t laugh. The pumpkin pie, however, meant that he was in a relationship. Single guys are not shopping for canned pumpkin on the weekend.

I was not about to ask for his number. And he didn’t ask for mine. He probably did not know that I’m a single mom. How could he?

But he did let go of his cart and open his arms. It took me a second to realize that he wanted to give me a hug.

I wasn’t looking, and I almost put my heavy basket down on his toe. When I hugged him, I got nervous. Maybe it was the way he smelled. My body remembered that excitement.

Then we just stood there, without saying a word. I wanted to ask for his number. But I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was just the writer in me? I was curious. Remember how we used to make out?…

But he still seemed awkward. His hand returned to his cart. We said “bye.” He went one way, and I went the other.

I’m still thinking about him. I don’t have his number anymore, but I have my connections. I can get it.

Should I try to call him? Or, would that just get messy…? He probably has a girlfriend.

Image from http://www.traderjoes.com/

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Nasser September 10, 2008 at 1:38 pm

As a guy, I think he’s interested. The reason he didn’t take your number, is perhaps a bad experience, or, he is looking for someone to make the initial contact in that way. I’d say his previous experience left a scar, so he’s looking for someone so interested in him, that makes the intial contact. Getting phone numbers is not difficult for us guys, sometime howevere, we make some decisions, that the outcome is very narrowed, and thats what we’re looking for, an exceptional woman…


dadshouse September 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Single guys can cook. Come check out the recipes on my blog. I cook whether my kids are here, or not.

every time I spot a cutie… He has a ring on his left hand. – try changing your mindset! Use “the secret”… 🙂


pisceshanna September 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

I just stalked a guy who talked to me during lunch at a sushi bar. I called his work and got his extension. Then I gave him my number. He hasn’t called. I think I freaked him out, but at least I had the balls to do it.


GLSD September 10, 2008 at 11:17 am

I’m a lil late on here, but i’d so NO… if he wanted to be in touch he would’ve asked for your #. Sounds like he kept it short and sweet. Move on! 🙂 keep the good memories from the past. That’s what they are memories!


Kim September 10, 2008 at 9:43 am

OK, u know the answer is a big NO!

From what you said.. he didn’t sound very interested. As one of ur readers noted: guys know how to ask for numbers.

You are way too sweet and educated to even give this guy a second thought… he seems very disinterested.


Brad September 10, 2008 at 9:30 am

Gee, I loving going into trader joe’s. Lot’s of pretty girls always line the aisles.

Really good post rachel, I’m going to start reading again more often!



singlemomseeking September 10, 2008 at 9:28 am

Lance: You know me a bit by now. I don’t do the “social artist” pick up thing. I’m interested in a real relationship.

To the rest of you who say “Let it be”…. Thank you.


singlemomseeking September 10, 2008 at 9:27 am

MC: I love how you came back to fess up. Here’s to being a “truthful, kind, mature, emotionally available, not drugged-up” man. Oh, “who doesn’t run around.”

That’s good.

Andie: “Don’t double dip in the honey pot.” You’ve got a book title on your hands, darling!


Allison September 10, 2008 at 9:18 am

No. Do not call him. That whole “he’s just not that into you” thing? I think it’s true. If he wanted to get in touch he would have asked for your number.


mc September 10, 2008 at 9:04 am

My personal “fess-up” (stay with me, I promise to get to the point eventually):

I always had a thing, a major thing, for narcissistic bohemian artist types. Married 2 of them (sorry, I’m an idiot). Not surprisingly both marriages ended up as complete f*ckin disasters.

I finally learned (at the advanced age of (oof) 47) that it is OK to have expectations (or call them “standards” if you want) re men.

I realized that what I really want is (no duh) a man who is truthful, kind, mature, emotionally available, not drugged-up, and who doesn’t run around. A man who comes home at night, and who might even be a reasonable a role model to my children.

Unfortunately, the rock musicians I drool over are very unlikely (OK never) going to make me happy because they typically come up short in just about all these ways. I still drool over them of course, but I’ve been looking elsewhere for Mr Romance.

With some success! It has been an amazing discovery for me–who knew such men existed? Of course they did, but they were just outside my personal experience because I was stuck on my “type”. A man who enjoys talking with me, and doesn’t just complain that I talk too much! A man who takes care of his own ego! A man who is way into me and shows it, instead of the other way around!

My point—you seem to adore cute bu temotionally unavailable men who have a bit of a mean streak, like they lack empathy or something.

What kind of jerk (involved with someone else or not) doesn’t even take pity on you and laugh at your understandably nervous joke in that situation? And then presses you for a big ol’ semi-intimate hug (which was apparently kind of awkward)? It sounds a bit manipulative, like he was enjoying the impression he was making on you, but just as a way to boost his own ego.

There are men out there who don’t do this. Lose this loser and find someone who can give you what you really want–someone who is into you and not themselves.


Lance September 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

Us social artists are big on connecting with people with no thought in mind of an interaction turning into a sexual relationship or just a friendship. Just connect, sister. There’s nothing wrong with trading emails and catching up, even if it goes nowhere.

My advice: nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Andie September 10, 2008 at 8:51 am

ehh sounds lame. Don’t double dip in the honey pot. Put a lid on it and call it over.


littlemansmom September 10, 2008 at 8:37 am

You know what…I wouldn’t…just in case. I’d want to savour that memory of excitment, awkwardness, the memories….and if he’s single…he just may contact you! 😉


mc September 10, 2008 at 8:37 am


Do you really want an immature man (hasn’t changed since high school) who you already know has big problems with emotional intimacy? Who isn’t even into you? (obvs…he didn’t take your number)

It was nice to see him. Leave it there.

Now go out looking for what you really want.


avigail74 September 10, 2008 at 7:17 am

You DESERVE a man who will laugh at your cute jokes (because that’s part of who you are) and who is very EXCITED to see you! I’d let him go!


Legal Editor Mom September 10, 2008 at 6:43 am

To this day I still think about my first LOVE sometimes. Not my first kiss, but my first love. We met in high school and despite being on and off well past our college years, we finally separated for good and ended up marrying other people. I do run into him occasionally, he with his two girls and me with my one. We’re always happy to see each other, and he’s even reminisced with me about good time past. Yet we don’t exchange numbers. He’s never asked, and I don’t offer. He was never shy before, so I do believe that he would pursue me if he was interested. My preference is to be the pursuee rather than the pursuer.

There are all kinds of possibilities surrounding his baking a pie, but the bottom line is you don’t know for sure; you can only speculate. What you do know for sure is that he didn’t express interest in reconnecting. I agree; let it be.


Noreen September 10, 2008 at 6:13 am

Don’t call him. I have some great memories of ex boyfriends but there is a reason that they are exs. From reading about the exchange that took place between you two, there really didn’t seem to be that much of a connection now, only the memory of one. Leave it be.


SingleParentDad September 10, 2008 at 2:05 am

I wouldn’t.

Reads like he’s happy to leave your relationship as a happy memory.

But what do I know, he could be a single dad, cooking pie for his kid(s), people often make that mistake with me when I’m out food shopping, but he would of probably mentioned that if he was. Especially when your child was right there for him to compare his with, age etc.

All my early ‘girlfriends’ were rubbish, though I do think about them from time-to-time. Then again I avoid them like the plague when I do spot them about.


SDMktg September 9, 2008 at 11:44 pm

It’s comforting to know there are other people that still fantasize/reminisce about people from the past. 20 years later people are in such different places in their lives you might not have anything at all in common anymore. I think if he was interested he would have made small talk or something.

I’m at the grocery store several times a week. Sometimes with my twins, sometimes not. I can bake pretty much anything but I’ve never made pumpkin in Sept. Maybe if the kids wanted it. Their mom didn’t, and still doesn’t, cook.


T September 9, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Man! We need Trader Joe’s!!!

I say get his digits, SMS. And then play innocent. Let him know that you enjoyed seeing him again and that you did always wonder what happened to him. He will be flattered and you guys can catch up… innocently enough. Then you’ll have your answer on the relationship.

You know me. I always tell it like it is and ask lots of questions!!

Have fun! And tell M that I agree – spanokopita is the best thing EVER!!!


singlemomseeking September 9, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Nancy: You almost had me on the floor with “The pie? Yep, ‘she’s’ baking a pie and sent him out for canned pumpkin.”

CCD: Thanks for clarifying that a single mom CAN make a pie. Give me a hard time. I can take it… if you send me your cheesecake recipe. Mmm.


singlemomseeking September 9, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Phil called it: I’m very sentimental. It’s really bad. What can I do?

Judy, I’ll keep shopping. This is the hottest Trader Joe’s, but every time I spot a cutie… He has a ring on his left hand. I’ll keep my eyes out.


laurakim September 9, 2008 at 8:13 pm

I wouldnt make the effort. I think just the excitement of it all is possible making you feel like you do want to re-connect.

I also dont think the pumpkin pie is a girlfriend indicator though – maybe he just likes pie!


jeanie September 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Nah – let him be beautiful in your memories (and even telling us that, you told us a heap of heartache of him not communicating) and find some fresh slate who will ask for your number – or click on your profile – and make new memories.


Crazy Computer Dad September 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Some of us can cook and we’re in the store all the time. I don’t make pumpkin pies, but I do make a very nice cheesecake and a pound cake that occasionally turns out perfect (great grandmother’s recipe). Both from scratch so you will find me from time to time toting heavy cream, cream cheese, flour, eggs, and sugar. 🙂 I also can’t resist the urge to dispel your stereotypes and give you a little bit of a hard time. The truth is that if I did make them all the time, I would eat them, and then I would weigh six hundred pounds. I do usually only make them for special occasions.


Nancy September 9, 2008 at 7:01 pm

I’d let it go. I’m sure he got your message … he was being kind.

The pie? Yep, “she’s” baking a pie and sent him out for canned pumpkin.


Amy Nathan September 9, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Do I even need to type this? No, no, no.

You said yourself he’s in a relationship. He’s baking pumpkin pie. You do not want a man who is baking pumpkin pie with another woman. Especially one that hasn’t changed since high school.

Worse, he didn’t laugh at your pumpkin pie joke.


judy September 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Thank you Phil…so UPSish isn’t it.

Rachel, it’s great that you make yourself so vulnerable to us. It allows me to tisk-tisk this from afar which can make me stronger when I am up against it.

Old boyfriends on pedestals is an easy way into a dead end relationship while fulfilling the romantic in us when there is nothing else going on….

Remember “he aint that into you”…Guys know how to ask for numbers and know how to dial phones.

“he did let go of his cart and open his arms”…He’s in Trader Joe’s of course he’s going to hug you however as a female why do I believe you have conjured up the images of the ginger/fred embrace..

Or the “I am a female and will fill in all the blanks to make his story fit my needs…” We are so good at that.

Anyways, he will find you if he wants and it is always so much better when they come to you.

ITMT keep shopping for produce and men..we only get better at picking them the more we………


Phil September 9, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Am I detecting a pattern where you put people from your past up on a pedestal? Is it sentimentality?

Many single guys do cook…it isn’t always spaghetti-O’s straight out of the can. Pumpkin pie in September is a bit odd, I don’t know any married guy who would be making that.


liz September 9, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Well it’s definitely not going to hurt to ask around and find out if he’s in a relationship…that’s what connections are for!

Then go from there!


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