As the afternoon sun crashed onto the cobblestone-lined street below, hundreds of shuffling feet seemed only to encourage the thick, heavy rays, whipping in dirt and sweat before kicking them back up at the sky as if to say, “that the best you got?” to the heat. For every inch of sidewalk, there were twice as many codeswitching vacationers, unrelenting residents and toddler-strapped mommies asserting their right to use it. Wide-lens cameras stabbed the air from every direction, fighting to be the first to capture the exact shade of orange in the fish-throwers aprons. Noses hid behind open-accordion maps, while arms and legs flailed about as people forgot to look both ways before gesturing.
It had been my idea to come here for the long weekend, and yet neither of us were surprised when Eric took control as we navigated the crowd. I pressed my palm into his and we careened left and right, weaving through the throngs of thoughtlessly placed elbows and toes. Feeling my blood pressure start to climb, I no longer regretted the dozen cubes of squeaky cheese and the oozing Beecher’s Flagship sandwich we’d shared for breakfast. Just making it to the other end of the market without grabbing someone’s hair in reprimand of their manners would be exercise—for mind, body and soul—enough.
Turns out, even a Thursday at Pike Place Market rivals the line for Free Slurpee Day at the local 7-11. After feigning patience for another few moments, we finally reached the exit and took off up the hill. At the top, we paused just long enough to pay our respects to the (dearly departed) Washington State Tourism Office and snapped a few shots of the iconic backdrop. Before the traffic light had even made it through another round of “Red Light, Green Light,” we were across the street, taking deep breaths of relief.
As I peeked into the windows of passing storefronts, a figure appeared that pulled my gaze away. In spite of his bronzed, perfectly premeditated appearance, he seemed familiar. He wasn’t very tall or even particularly handsome, but even in this mess of people, he commanded attention. Sure, it could have been his bright-salmon-colored V-neck, his mouthful of shiny white Chiclet teeth, or maybe his expensively coiffed hair. No one in Seattle looks like that. But, it wasn’t any of those things, either. Then, it hit me.
“Ohmygod! That’s Chris from The Bachelorette!”
“You mean one of the guys that’s still on the show?”
“Yeah! That’s totally him! He said he’s from Seattle, and that totally looks like him!”
“Wanna go get a picture?!”
I can’t pretend that I didn’t consider chasing him down the street, aiming my Android at him in hopes of stealing a photograph. But as I looked at the dozens of people I’d have to maneuver around and calculated the number of “Sorry!”s I’d have to throw over my shoulder, I knew it wasn’t worth it. I had seen him, and contemplated it. I’d done enough to be ashamed of for one day.