There's this woman I've been avoiding. Okay, so there are like 40 women I've been avoiding, but I've been avoiding this one in particular. She's the cheese sample lady at my local supermarket and from way across the aisle housing all the tubers you can tell that she's a lunatic. And you know what lunatics love?
They love ME.
So I've been taking the long way around, braving the horrors of the deli counter just to ensure that there is no eye contact. Today, in a hurry to find provender for Kid's lunch, I forgot the trap and blundered right into the fromagey web.
Quinoa, eggs, almonds, cereal, CHEESE LADY OF THE APOCALYPSE.
"Irish Cheddar, hon?"
I froze. Even now, recounting it, I'm shuddering.
I turned, slowly. Hairnet. Henna rinse. Two bright pink spots a bit too low down on the cheeks. Dentures, slipping out. God love her.
And so I found myself pinning into the cheese lady vortex of doom, trapped for 15 minutes that I did not really have, while other shoppers whizzed past with little thought bubbles above their heads reading "SUCKA!" and "THANK CHRIST IT WASN'T ME." One guy actually snickered audibly.
Dear guy who snickered audibly: I will find you.
Topics covered with Cheese Sample Lady:
--Her friend Joanne the celiac
--Goddamn people who eat dinner after 8pm
--Denture clinics run by people who do not themselves have dentures
--The price of cauliflower
--The goddamn government and why you can't buy rye at Safeway. Rye bread, sure, but not rye to drink. It just makes no goddamn sense.
--The fact that no one can tell the difference between Irish cheddar and cheddar from Okotoks (a bedroom community of Calgary, not known for cheese production of any kind).
--Espadrilles and why the sides of them are so goddamn ugly
--The upward trend in rental prices in the Tuscon, AZ, area
--Her boyfriend Dougie and his goddamn wife and who was going to go to tonight's hockey game
I tried. I did, I tried, I was everything my mother could have hoped I would be in such a situation. I made the right noises, I tried to reach out to her as a person, an individua with a history and feelings and loves and dreams and hopes and small sadnesses. I sampled her cheese. I spent 15 minutes with the Cheese Sample Lady and I tried to brighten her day.
When I finally mentioned that I had only 12 minutes to get to school to pick up the Kid, she let me go with the promise that I'd drop in again real soon.
About 20 feet away, a man stopped me in front of the bananas. He clutched my sleeve and gestured. Come closer, said the gesture.
AW, MAN: I thought. NOW WHAT??
Brace yourself: It's worse than I imagined. Worse than you imagined.
What he said to me was this:
"Did you eat the cheese she gave you? Because I have to tell you, my wife and I were watching her for 10 minutes and she was picking her nose the whole time. Connie's just gone to tell the manager."
There's nothing I can add to that except goodnight, thanks for reading, and feel free to barf. I did.