The Freak Show that Follows Me

Call it a blessing, or call it a curse; no matter where in the world I am, chances are good that a stranger will come up to me and spill their guts. Ask Biggy. All I have to do is tell some woman at the next table at Wild Wings that her baby is cute, and suddenly she has turned her chair around and is telling us in great tearful detail the tale of the miracle conception of that infant--everything from the amount and consistency of the sperm her husband produced at the fertility clinic to her vision of the Virgin Mary in her pancakes the day her prayers were answered.

So I shouldn't have been surprised by what happened at the Publix pharmacy on Sunday. And yet.

Here's what happened:

I'm standing there with the pleasant little tech, discussing generic vs. brand name antibiotics, when an elderly woman wearing a loose leopard-print blouse and black pants, using her buggy as a walker, approaches. She doesn't seem to be actually headed to the pharmacy counter but, rather, toward the Old People's aisle of Milk of Magnesia, Epson salts, and Doan's Pills. Out of the corner of her eye, though, she spots me and is pulled off course.

Before I know it, she is practically screaming, "It sure is cold in here! I never wear a bra, but when I'm in here I feel like everyone can tell. The other day, I ran into Fred, who I used to work with at the power company, and he asked me, 'Hey, Barb, what happened to your breasts?! You used to have a nice rack.' So I told him, 'It's called breast cancer, you asshole. I had a double mastectomy,' and then he said, 'Well, why didn't you have them reconstructed? It looks weird.' Can you believe it!?"

By now, I've put my Mucinex and club soda on the counter because I can tell this ain't gonna be a short story. I'm noticing that in the crevices of her face are multiple piercings and black-inky tattoos. How I could have missed them before? She takes a breath and continues:

"I said, 'Now, Fred, I'm 75 years old, my two sons are 38 and 54, I'm retired, and I've been a widow for nine years. What the hell do I need boobs for?' and then he asked me if I still wear the necklace they gave me at my retirement party."

At this point, she reaches deep into her shirt and pulls out a wooden penis about the size of a Matchbox car, on a chain, and starts waving it around. By now, another customer has come to the pharmacy, and he, the tech, and the pharmacist are looking at me like 'Do something. Make it stop.' Honestly, like this is my fault! But Barb's not finished, and I'm powerless against her.

"'Not only do I still wear the necklace,' I said, 'I carry this, too. I can get a good ten inches with it.'" She pulls a bigger rubber penis keychain out of her pocket and squeezes it to make it grow.

That's it, I'm done. I know I must walk away in order for the other good citizens of Publix to be spared, so I wheel my own cart toward the toothpaste aisle as she yells after me, "See what you have to look forward to? When you get my age, you can say and do anything!"


biggy said...

It's true. I can't wait to get old so I can have these type of conversations with strangers, only I'll be sure I'm with one of the kids so they can be humiliated as well.

mamoo said...

well, i'm almost "there" so i have started practicing being obnoxious. better watch out tania and greg. you two already wince occasionally because of things i say in public. just wait another 10 years. then ya'll will be hiding from me.

Tracie said...

God bless the elderly.

Collin said...

I wonder if this is the same woman who's been "misdialing" my cell phone number for the last four days. I know her entire life story. She's got cancer, had a stroke, she was a nurse and on and on and on. She's actually a nice lady so I listen for a bit. Wait...she's calling right now...

Grayson said...

No. You're not the only one. I attract 'em like, uh, spiders. Last time I ventured out to a professional networking thingee, the only chair available is next to me. So of course, the geezer coming in late flops beside me, so during the entire lecture, I get this about 6 inches from my ear:

1.) nose picking
2.) slurping from a water bottle
3.) snorting and snurfing after each sip
4.) perpeutal shuffling about
5.) HUGE stomach rumblins
6.) gross, disgusting inhaling, like through some kinda tube, of a HUGE plate piled embarassingly high of the horsdeuvres (sp?).
7.) More fidgeting
8.) Belching
9.) Then all topped off with a lovely bout of, yes, audible farting.

And this was all before he raised his hand to dominate the discussion.

I'm still recovering from the horror of it all.

Tania Rochelle said...

So Grayson, did everyone think he was with you?


that is AWESOME....I want to be that woman when I am old.

ads. said...

Priceless. You can't buy that kinda entertainment. (good thing)

Chrissy said...

I think it's karma for sending your students to Johnny's Hideaway.

Tania Rochelle said...

Please, Chrissy. That's just me spreading the love.

Anne-Davnes said...

Awesome. Is that gonna be me in a few years?

mamoo said...

Tania, please, please, please let me go the next time you send your students to Johnny's Hideaway. Ahhh, such memories.

Tania Rochelle said...

Mamoo, you're over 21. You can go to Johnny's every day if you want.

Grayson said...


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