“Excuse me? Aren’t you—”Startled, I turned toward the voice, and I almost dropped the grapes. Then I was embarrassed about obsessing over the grapes so I tossed them cavalierly into my cart, inadvertently bruising all the grapes in the bottom of the box.
“Do I know you?” I asked this 30-something women in khakis and a green blouse.“No, no, we have never met, but I do know of you.” She smiled sincerely. “I’m Brenda. Brenda Jones.”
How did Brenda, Brenda Jones, know of me? Had the PTA put out some sort of notice (“MOV joined the PTA, paid her dues, but never came to any meetings”)? Or perhaps Brenda’s kids knew my kids? Or maybe Brenda was friends with my former boss at the high-end kitchen store?“I’ve read your book.”
SHE. READ. MY. BOOK.I started hyperventilating in the grape aisle, and quickly wished I was in the liquid grape aisle, as in wine.
“Oh,” I said intelligently. “Ummm. Oh.”“You were funny!” she offered enthusiastically. “I ended up buying a few extra copies for my friends, it was a great book.”
I did not know how to react to this. On one level, obviously I should have said, “Wow, thank you! That is so nice! What was your favorite part of the book? And how old are your kids?” But instead, I could feel my brain cells bubbling then fizzing out, like three-day-old champagne that is not even good to make a sauce with.“Book,” I heard myself squeak. “Yep.”
Brenda, Brenda Jones, stared at me. I could tell she wanted to help me. “Have you always been a writer?” she asked kindly.“No. No. I used to work.” I forced a smile, and I could feel my eyes not smiling, so I knew the smile looked fake even though I was desperately trying to be real and happy and authentic. “I used to work … somewhere." I could not for the life of me remember where.
Brenda looked at her watch. She looked at my grapes. She finally looked me in the eyes and asked, “You worked at the high-end kitchen store?”“YES!” I squealed, as if instead of her knowing this tidbit from reading my book she was actually psychic. “That’s right!”
My cell phone chose this moment to ring, and I was simultaneously cursing it and rejoicing. I knew it was incredibly rude of me to cut off Brenda and our stimulating conversation, but somehow my poor beleaguered brain was having a tough time, so a phone call proved a good way to end things.“Excuse me, Brenda,” I said politely, “I have been waiting for this call.”
I answered the phone and it was some sort of automated survey, which I thought was illegal on cell phones. At first, I was going to pretend it was The Husband, but then I decided to pretend it was my publisher.“Hello, Amazon!” I said to no one. “Good, good, and how are you?”
Brenda gave a polite little wave in my direction and then drifted away.For the first time, I really listened to what the automated survey was saying. “Do you suffer from social anxiety on occasion?”
“No,” I replied. “Never.”MOV
P.S. Buy my book! Here is the link on Amazon. Go check it out! And I promise if I run into you at Trader Joe’s, I will behave better than I did with Brenda.