All of us have our traditions when we settle in to serious writing. I had a favourite outfit that I wore and one day, this is what happened.
When I write, I like to wear my comfy well-worn jeans with my old sweatshirt that has a faded brand-name across the chest and not enough fleece left inside. It helps me think–the clothes, not the fleece. Sometimes I forget I have my “writing clothes” on and head for the supermarket. As I navigate the aisles, I get the odd charitable look and it’s not until I see a glimpse of myself in the glass reflection, that I realize I look like a “bag-lady.” Not the nicest image to heap on the public while searching for quick meal ideas. But, doesn’t it just frost your mind when you meet up with someone you haven’t seen in decades?
It happened to me the other day. I was at the supermarket deciding on fresh wild salmon or skinless/boneless chicken thighs for dinner, when a tentative voice murmured, “Is that you?” As I turned to see who it was, I prayed it wasn’t who she thought it was. Hopefully, there would be an embarrassed laugh and an awkward apology over mistaken identity.
I swear this is how it went.
This strange woman gushed, “Oh, it is you. It’s been much too long!” Frantically I searched my memory and thought she looked like someone I knew twenty years ago. The reddish-orange, frizzy hair seemed familiar.
Clutching my package of chicken thighs, I said apologetically, “You do look familiar, but I’m sorry I can’t put a name to your face?”
“Goodness, you can’t remember everything and it’s been a lot of years. I remembered you had the knack of remembering everything in the workplace. You were also quite a fashion- plate. I suppose you could afford it since you had a lot of overtime, but we always wondered after you left, if the books were really balanced or was it covered-up?”
Uh-oh, she’s catty and she’s checking out my writing clothes. That means we were never BFFs. I hate her already. What the heck is her name? Suddenly, she gave a maliciously half snort, half raspy laugh, totally unforgettable AND I remembered her.
“Connie–Connie, uh wait, don’t tell me your last name–I almost have it. You were on Husband #3–darn, I’m sorry, I can’t recall your last new name.”
“Connie? Who’s Connie? Aren’t you Marnie Chung, the company’s charter accountant?
“Sorry, you’ve got the wrong person.”
Without any apologies, this total stranger hastily pushed her cart down the nearby bulk dried fruit and nuts aisle. As for me, I kicked myself for apologizing I wasn’t who she thought I was. But I did decide on getting both the salmon and the chicken–two nights worth of dinners and less chance of meeting another catty nut. . .