A sinister afternoon at the supermarket
Since I published my article in the Texas Observer, I’ve never felt so much under scrutiny. While most feed-back has been astonishingly kind, some is less well-intentioned and I’m mightily relieved that I won’t meet my critics in person.
Nonetheless, it won’t surprise you to hear that I’m feeling a little, um, vulnerable.
Thus, imagine my alarm when, at the local supermarket today, I was verbally attacked by a woman wielding a birthday cake.
Now, I accept that my overloaded trolley seemed intimidating. I concede that I may have charged towards her at a faster clip than I’d intended. And I agree that my face in neutral is not the friendliest face in the world.
But still, I swerved long before I hit her, and no physical harm was done.
Regardless, the cake-bearing lady took umbrage and she began to holler. She told everyone in Baked Goods that I was bad, she followed me to Fresh Produce to condemn my soul, and she trailed me into Beer & Wine to remind me that I’m an ugly woman.
“You’d better hope I’m not waiting for you in the parking lot!”, she warned with as much menace as a lady holding an elaborately frosted cake can muster.
I hurried away to Canned Goods, wondering whether a missile of tinned carrots was about to hit me in the temple.
“Hey, you!”, my pursuer yelled, “You can’t get away from me, you ugly b****”
I redoubled my efforts to get away.
“You! Christina Aguilera! Come back!”
Fascinated shoppers twisted their necks in search of a runaway blonde bombshell. All they saw was me: someone’s pale and anxious mother, not quite sure of her footing yet deathly afraid of being slain by a stranger in Frozen Vegetables.
(For those readers who don’t know me, I’m afraid that I look nothing — nothing — like Christina Aguilera.)
I scuttled to the check-out, paid for my groceries and then — being a sensible person — asked for a security escort to my car. Two burly gentlemen with mild smiles walked me out. The angry lady with the cake had vanished and I found myself sounding improbable, even to myself, as I explained the situation.
Now I don’t know how much of this incident can be attributed to one’s random encounter with a loon, how much to my emotional fragility, and how much of this is Texas’s fault. Yet somehow, it just seems emblematic of the bizarre world I’ve glimpsed of late.
Luckily for me, this strange new world is also peopled with bemused friends willing to be burly gents if they have to. In an uncertain world where even normal-looking folk holding teacakes can be dangerous, that is an enormous relief.
[Post-publish note: after causing some consternation within my family, I should emphasize that this incident had nothing to do with my article. She really was just a random lady at the supermarket.]