Hubby and I were at Wal-Mart the other day and ran into a friend we hadn’t seen in a while. As we were standing in the aisle talking, a lady pushing an empty buggy stopped and gave me a great big, I-think-I-know-you smile. I didn’t know her, but I smiled back because that’s what southerners do. Then, in broken English, she said, “Can I talk to you?”
Dumbfounded, I pointed at myself and said, “Me?”
Like a kid sent to the principal’s office, I shuffled toward her, wondering what she could want with me. The last time a stranger got all friendly with me like that asked me to buy her one of the two jackets she had draped across her arm.
Standing beside her she wrapped a hefty arm around me, pressed her lips against my ear and whispered slowly, “Do you have cancer?”
Suddenly, I was back at Lowe’s checking out, my little pink cap covering my buzzcut and the cashier’s sympathetic words ringing in my ears, “Keep up the good fight!”
All my life I’ve kept up the good fight against injustice, against discrimination, against abuse, but never against cancer.
Laughing I said to my amazon captor, “I did have cancer, but I don’t anymore. I just like wearing my hair short.”
She must have thought I was in denial because she wouldn’t release me and insisted I drink a particular type of water. I can’t tell you what it is because she said it was a secret. But the real reason I can’t tell you is that I couldn’t understand her. So after the third, embarrassing “huh?” I just smiled and pretended I understood every incoherent word.
Standing too close for comfort now I looked into her big, droopy brown eyes and straining to make sense of her blundering words, I wondered if she was on medication or drugs. But more than anything I wanted this confusing encounter to be done and over.
But she wasn’t done with me yet. Nope! With her arm tightening around my waist, she told me I had to eat something too. Could have been roadkill for all I know, or a toad. Even if I knew what it was I wasn’t eating it . . . ever!
This concerned soul was so convinced that I had cancer and that she had a magical cure that I feared she was going to perform voodoo magic right then and there. But, to my relief, she released her arm from around my waist, smiled real big and said, “I want you to drink that water and eat (whatever she told me it was) because I want to see your pretty face when I come back to Wal-Mart.”
I don’t think I’m going back to Wal-Mart!