Seriously, do I look like a nice person?
"Sure she does," you're thinking to yourself. "She likes like a nice enough gal."
But do I look like super-nice, like the kind of person you must stop in the aisles at Target and tell me all about your life?
This evening I popped out to run two quick errands for my about-to-turn-twelve lovely lady's birthday. No makeup, my hair is just twisted up any old way with my very last cruddy hair elastic that I found in my pocket, face just a tad shiny because it's sticky-humid out. This is what I looked like. I grabbed the camera when I got home. "Do I look extra nice tonight?" I asked loving husband. "Like a good listener? Take my picture, will ya?" So he did.
Between errands, I stopped for a coffee. The girl at the counter told me all about trying to get her work finished quickly so that she could go on a big date with this cute guy she'd met through friends. They're going to a late movie. "Have fun," I said.
I hit Target, birthday list and coupons in hand.
In the underwear section an older lady told me how hard it is for her to find underwear that fits. I found a few different kinds of underwear while I looked for some new underwear for lovely lady (not for her birthday), but the woman had tried those kinds. So I was stumped too. "Good luck," I said.
In the hair aisle, a woman told me how amazed she was that there are so many choices for rubber bands for our hair. "I can't decide. It's been a long time since I bought these and there are so many colors and shapes," she said. "I know what you mean," I said, as I reached for a jumbo pack of plain ol' hair elastics. No fancy colors or rubber no-slip grips for me. I know what she means, which is why I only buy a jumbo card of plain hair elastics now, so I don't have to stand in the hair doodads aisle paralyzed by the number of choices.
In the checkout line, a woman noticed that I was buying diapers. "I don't buy that size yet," she said. A new mommy I'll bet, I thought. Any excuse to talk about her baby. I took the bait, "Oh, you must have a little one," I said. She told me about her five-month-old baby girl and how she could half-roll her way around in circles, all around the room. "Enjoy your little one," I said as I left.
And my favorite, the guy in the toothpaste aisle, after underwear woman and before hair-elastics lady. A fairly nondescript normal-looking fortyish man. As I reached for a toothbrush, he looked up from reading a toothpaste box. "Too many chemicals. We're poisoning ourselves." Did I say, "Oh my, yes," toss my toothbrush in the cart, and run far far away? Nooooooooooooooooooo. I have to ask, "You mean the toothpaste?" I was treated to a little mini-lecture:
Americans are poisoning themselves.
Our country is about to implode anyway, so it doesn't really matter.
I must watch the movie Sicko. (I've been wanting to see it. And he said it was good.)
A woman he knows moved to Canada 35 years ago and thinks America is terrible, and the corollary (somehow), all Canadians are healthier. (Do Canadians not use Crest? Just curious. That's the brand of evil poison toothpaste he was brandishing all the while.)
He does surveys for a living. Usually only educated people listen to him, like people with master's and PhD's. Uneducated people are so rude. (Apparently all of you with mere bachelor's degrees are uneducated. Sorry.)
Did you know that in Oregon there was a mini-recession in 2001 and tons of people drove to the coast to commit suicide? Really. And they're hiding it because they only want people to see the pretty green state.
I should tell ten people about Sicko and make them tell ten people and they should tell ten people. He's in networking and teaches people how to make money, and that's how it works. Apparently if we all tell ten people about the movie Sicko, then George Bush won't be president any more.
I think he wanted to tell me all about how George W. is running this country to hell in a handbasket, but really I'd had enough. I'm not saying that he didn't have some valid points somewhere in there. But it's one thing to have a serious political discussion while you're sitting down over a cup of coffee, discussing one issue at a time, and it's an entirely different ball o' wax when your conversational partner is a stranger waving a tube of Crest and leapfrogging from topic to topic. And I'm not really sure it counts as a conversation when the only words you can get in edgewise are things like, "Oh," and "Yeah, I'd like to see that movie."
When he paused for a breath I thanked him for the movie recommendation, and I meant it. He was a nice enough guy and it wasn't unpleasant talking to him. As I left the tooth products aisle, he reminded me to tell ten people about Sicko.
Why do people do this to me? I'm just going about my business trying to buy toothpaste and underwear. Oh, all right. I can hear you now. They talk to me because I listen. I engage in conversation. To be truthful, the toothpaste guy was kind of interesting, but like I said-- stranger, toothpaste, monologue. Besides, starting about halfway through, he kept glancing at my boobs. It was like talking to a teenage boy back when my boobs were teenaged too. Now my boobs are forty just like the rest of me, and believe me, they're not that interesting.
I really need learn to perfect the noncommittal "Hmm," and get the heck outa Dodge. Or maybe I should walk around looking like this. Now I don't look nice. I look weird. And weird is scary. Folks don't talk to weird scary people.