Before I go any further, I should provide some much needed context: prior to our near-collision, I did not even know said neighbor's first name. Up to that point, our longest conversation had been:
Him: "Wow, it's hot out today."
Me: "Yeah, tropical."
But on this particular day, Chad - as he would later introduce himself - was chatty.
Him: "Hey, bro! What's up?"
Me: [silence, looking around to see who else in the hallway he could possibly be addressing]
Him: "It's good to be alive, bro, huh? So what are you up to?"
After realizing that Chad's biological brother was not walking behind me - and that Chatty Chad was in fact addressing me - I purposely avoided the small talk and cut to the chase.
Me: "I'm on my way to the grocery store."
Him: "Cool. Can I go with?"
Him: "Can I go with you to the grocery store? I need to pick up some groceries as well. And it doesn't make sense for us to both drive, does it?"
The next few minutes of dialogue were too bizarre to transcribe. I began my argument by pointing out that I grocery shopped at a natural foods co-op and that they don't sell items like Doritos or Pepsi. Chad retorted by saying that he had been thinking that he should start eating healthier and that this would be a perfect chance to begin doing so. I then noted that I might also be stopping at Target and the post office on my way home, a detail that backfired on me and actually heightened Chad's enthusiasm for carpooling with me. After unsuccessfully trying to persuade Chad - a.k.a. "Mr. Debate Team Captain" - not to tag along, I relented and decided to play the role of the Good Neighbor.
Me: "OK, fine. Let's go."
* * * *
On the ride from our condo to the co-op, I said a total of six words. Mr. Chatty Pants filled the rest of the space with anecdotes covering a variety of topics, including his love of mountain biking, the challenges of making homemade pasta, and his girlfriend's inconsistent sex drive. Again, I'd like to point out the fact that I didn't even know this guy's name twenty minutes ago, and suddenly I'm an expert on what it takes to get his girl in the mood. Silently I vowed to myself to never be neighborly again.
* * * *
When we arrive at the grocery store, I give Chad the clearest instructions possible: "It's 2:10 now. Meet me back here at 2:30."
Fast forward twenty minutes:
2:30 pm - I finish paying for my groceries and wheel my cart to the agreed-upon meeting space. Chad is nowhere to be found.
2:33 pm - I check my watch for the fifteenth time in the past three minutes. I contemplate leaving Chad behind. I then remember that Chad is (a) clearly not sane and (b) built like a brick house, and it's probably not the best idea to desert a crazy bodybuilder at a grocery store - especially when that crazy bodybuilder lives less than fifty feet away from you.
2:37 pm - I start to worry that maybe Chad slipped on a wet floor and now needs me to give him a ride to the hospital. What else could explain his excessive absence?
2:38 pm - I spot Chad on the other side of the store, casually making his way through the produce department. He happens to glance up and we make eye contact. I point to my watch and give him the "what, are you on drugs?" look. He holds his index finger up, mouths the words "one minute," and goes back to carefully inspecting a cantaloupe. If I had a rifle on me, I would have taken a shot.
At 2:42 pm - twelve minutes late - Chad finally makes his way over to me and excitedly says, "Where to next, partner? Target or the post office?"
I want nothing more than to tell him that I hope he gets salmonella from his chicken breasts and that I'd rather give myself a swirly than go to Target with him. Instead I lie and tell him that I bought some frozen peas that need to get back to my freezer right away.
"All right, bro. We'll hit up Target next time."
Right. Next time.