I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face
I think there must be something about my face.
I keep checking to see if ‘Tell Me All About It’ is stamped on my forehead.
During a recent trip to K-Mart I was deep in thought in the sock department, contemplating the advantages of crew style as opposed to the tube. A woman approached and pulled her cart up next to mine. She randomly pawed through the sport socks with the little pom-poms on the heel. Then all I did, and I’m not lying, is look up and acknowledge her presence. With me, that’s all it takes.
“Had my cat neutered and declawed this morning.”
No “hello, nice day, these prices are really good”, nothing in a preliminary manner. She just started right in as though we were continuing a conversation we might have begun over coffee a few minutes earlier.
She went on.
“You know, I waited 14 years for my first cat to die so I could buy new furniture, they scratch things up so bad, you know. And now Harvey he brings home this new one, wouldn’t you know it. I’m not waiting another 14 years, oh no, not this time.”
How does one reply to a harangue such as that? Being a common occurrence for me, I decided to go with the moment, I said, “Well, you deserve new furniture after all those years.”
That’s what she was hoping to hear. However, my response is the wrong one if I happen to be in a hurry or don’t feel like having company on my sock expedition. For now she has followed me around to the other side of the sock department, almost into the shoe
department, and I didn’t even want to look at shoes. But I pretended that I did.
“We had the fish fry at the diner last Thursday,” she said. “You know, before bingo, Harvey and me. Do you think that’s strange, having fish on Thursday instead of Friday?”
She wanted an answer. “Do you like fish,” I asked?
“Sure, me and Harvey do,” she replied.
“Then I guess any night’s ok for fish fry,” I said confidently.
That was the answer she was looking for. Instantly I became her new best friend. And as such, my opinion was required, the barn boots for Harvey or the insulated Timberlines?
And on it went until a teenage boy sidled over from the men’s shoe department, another total stranger. He waited for the woman to stop for breath, then asked my advice on the best type of laces for his dress shoes.
“I have to go to my Uncle’s funeral and my mother won’t let me wear my Nikes, couldn’t find the laces for my shoes, think I used them to fix my basketball net, she said go buy some new ones and get the right color, do you think these are oxford, what color is oxford anyway?”
I turned to answer him, which obviously ticked-off the fish fry woman who took this as a snub. She mumbled something to the effect of “buttinsky kid” and said she needed to find the cat food department. She whirled her cart around and didn’t look back. Shoeless Joe and I are left to ponder the myriad color choices of shoestrings.
In the next four and a half minutes he told me that his Uncle died of cirrhosis of the liver and his grandmother is coming in from Pocatello, Idaho for the funeral and that no one knows where his Uncle’s wife is so they can tell her he’s died and that he thinks he’ll get out of school for the services and that’s ok except that he’ll miss his girlfriend and what do I think, should he ask her to the funeral, would that count as a date?
I think I have a new best friend.
Must be something about my face.