So when I go into a shop and there is an open tub of Quality Street on the counter you can bet your granny’s eye-teeth that I’m going to “lock on target”.
But to engage or not to engage? That is the question.
At home or the work office, an open tin of sweets is, in my opinion, fair game. It’s like a gazelle slathering its rump in barbecue sauce and draping itself Page 3 style over some hot coals. It’s there for the taking. Full consummation of the relationship is the normal expectation and inevitable.
But in a shop situation a curious short-circuiting etiquette kicks in. A conflict of finer feelings and good manners. Am I allowed to just (to quote Billy Idol) “…make a dip / Into someone else's pocket then make a slip / Steal a car and go to Las Vegas oh, the gigolo pool”? Or do I need moral consent from a higher authority?
Because if I’m honest I feel like I need the shop keeper’s permission before I can make a grab for her green triangle. It seems very forward to just finger her coffee cream without a by-your-leave or thank you and then head on my way with a sticky mouth. But I can’t quite bring myself to ask either. It feels a bit… I don’t know… desperate and pathetic to say, “can I have a chocolate please?” Even though I’m 99% sure they are there for the customer’s enjoyment. I don’t want to make the assumption that they are free, gratis and without charge nor have her assume that I’m so hard-up and desperate I’ve taken to raiding the chocolate charity tins of the local high street just to get a sugar fix.
So I do nothing. I just stare at the tin like the drug smuggler in Midnight Express staring at his girlfriend through the security screen (though without the lipstick smudges on the glass) and the moment passes. The opportunity slips by. I make my legitimate purchase, pay, leave and try and kid myself that I didn’t really want a chocolate anyway.
But I did.
Goddamit, I really did.