Yesterday I went to Costco. I had only a few things to pick up, only a vague idea, really, of what I needed to buy. That’s how I ended up with a fancy-schmancy showerhead, among other things.
After I’d wandered the store, I pushed my heavy cart into line. That’s when I spotted a lady I used to chat with at the pool when I was pregnant with Grace eight years ago. She was so nice. She had two sons about the age of my youngest son. When my daughter was born, she presented me with a hand-painted watercolor of a bear with balloons spelling out Grace’s name. It’s adorable and hangs on Grace’s bedroom wall.
I can’t remember the lady’s name.
But that’s not why I turned my head and angled my body away from hers so she wouldn’t be able to tell it was me. I wasn’t sure she’d recognize me anyway–I feel like a completely different person than I was eight years ago. I probably don’t look much different, though. It’s not like I’ve grown a full beard and and dyed my hair black or anything crazy. So I hid behind my hair, head down, face blocked by the curtain of hair.
I have an aversion to making small talk with people in public. I hate to run into people I know. Every molecule of my introversion stands up to form a wall to protect me from unwanted conversation and attention.
It’s bizarre, inexplicable to those of you who scan a room for people you might know as my husband does. He will seek out people he recognizes while I actively avoid looking around just in case I might catch the eye of someone who might know me. I will dart down aisles in the grocery store to avoid running into someone I saw by the dairy case. It’s like I’m suddenly a spy, trying to avoid capture by the enemy.
So, at Costco, I successfully avoided notice while paying for my items. She was still in line, so I looked to the wall as I hurried past.
However, when I parked my cart so I could buy two salads and a turkey wrap and a Diet Coke at the snack bar, she appeared. Luckily, I remained undetected and scrammed out of there.
The moral of this story? If you ever see me, I’ll pretend I don’t see you just so I don’t have to say an awkward hello and pretend that I’m friendly in public. If I don’t see you first, though, and you sneak up on me, I’ll pretend that I’m extroverted and happy to see you and then afterward, I’ll review all the stupid things I said and did and wonder if you thought my hair looked terrible and if you’ve noticed that I gained weight.
But if I see you first, that will never happen. Especially if I can’t remember your name.