irish eyes are smilin’

He stepped through a doorway to the front of the store. He had brown curly hair, light eyes, and an apron on. He was a little pudgy. The customer in front of me was finishing his order he had placed with the thin young blond at the register. I was ready to order with her, but the baker stepped behind the counter of impossibly sweet cookies and prompted eye contact. He asked if he could help me.

“Do you have soda bread?” I asked as I noticed a basket full of loaves and a small sign reading “Irish soda bread $4.75” on the counter when I stepped closer to talk to him. “Oh, yeah. There it is,” I mumbled.

“How many would you like?” he asked.

“Just one.” I said and he went behind the register to a shelf for a fresh loaf. He came back around to hand it to me. His fingers were thick like rolls of pennies. Instead of a ring, there was flour on his hands. “I could love a man with flour on his hands,” I thought. He reached over the check out girl, almost pushing her aside to ring up my little taste of Irish culture.

“$4.79,” he said. I handed him my credit card. The other customer left, the register girl disappeared, I didn’t see her go. He was now in front of the cash register. I moved closer to the counter. He swiped my card, “Are you celebrating tonight?”

“A little,” I said quietly, my eyes averting his.

“A little,” he repeated.

It was true. While there would be no green beer or raucous marauding, I was set for corned beef, stewed cabbage, mashed potatoes, and of course, Irish soda bread.

“Are you Irish?” he asked. It was probably that I asked for “soda bread” and not “Irish soda bread.” Or it might have been my pale skin and dark, almost black, hair and brown eyes, a generic composite that can morph into almost any nationality given the right circumstances or requests for breads.

I hesitated, “Way back there somewhere I am.”

“Way back there somewhere,” he repeated.

The credit card receipt printed, he ripped it from the machine and laid the yellow and white slips out for me to sign. I did so quickly and handed him the white one, keeping the yellow customer copy.

“Thank you,” he said. I turned to walk out, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day.” He said to my turned back.

“You too,” I said and scuffled out the door.

If only I weren’t so shy maybe with him these “way back there somewhere” Irish eyes would be smilin’ on him.

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