Thursday, March 14, 2013

917. That Time I Was Recognized

The other day I was at Trader Joe’s looking at grapes.  Well, I mean, I wasn’t exactly looking at grapes like you look at shoes, shoes can cost $90, whereas grapes are practically free.  I picked up the clear box of grapes, flipped it upside down, and examined them, trying to ascertain that the ones on the bottom were not all brown and squished.  I hate it when I spend $2.99 on grapes, and then it turns out several of them are bad.  This of course could all be prevented if I just slow down, take my time, and look carefully at the grapes in advance, before they even—

“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.” 

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.” 
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.   


  1. When I was a reporter, people quite often stopped me in the grocery store to tell me how they loved my writing. Why does this event always occur when one is shopping for groceries? Sometimes people would even cry as they told me how moved they were by my writing. I would smile and nod and say humbly, Thank you, thank you so much. Then I would go home and scream with joy to anyone who would listen to me that I had been recognized at the grocery store and it's true: PEOPLE LOVE ME.


    1. why were you not there to save me at Trader Joe's, Janie? You clearly have the gift of knowing what to say when your adoring public gives a nice compliment. :)

    2. Ha! You are a sweetheart. :)

  2. Replies
    1. bruised, or one of the good ones from on top?

  3. You'd have been more on your game if this had happened at Target.

    1. ha!!!!! SOOOO TRUE!!!!! You know me well. ;)

  4. Look at you all fancy & such posting a link on Facebook! Well done,

  5. Grapes make all of us befuddled. It was the grapes. The grapes of MOV!!!!

    1. I feel so much better now. I love blaming things on other people, or grapes.

  6. Replies
    1. Looking back, it makes me happy. In the situation, I felt uncomfortable. Why is that?!?

  7. It's certainly a crazy feeling and, like Janie, it happened to me all the time when I was a reporter. Even after ten years, I would still get shy and embarrassed. It's kind of a cool feeling. Great post!

    1. Thanks! The hard part is trying to be witty and fantastic on the spot. I can be witty and fantastic, but it takes several hours (often days) of prep. It is exhausting to be witty and fantastic. There are times I just want to buy grapes.

  8. Well, congratulations! That's pretty exciting. I'm sorry you were a tad befuddled, though. Maybe you can practice saying "oh, you are so kind, thank you" in the mirror a few times. :-)

    1. thanks, couse. But I am often befuddled. I think befuddled is my natural state. I blame this on my children, who have taken me from semi-cool to totally befuddled.


When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)