I’ll be the girl behind the hair

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.

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I’ll be the girl behind the hair

18 thoughts on “I’ll be the girl behind the hair

  1. Laura says:

    I have a tiny bit of that in me — not quite as introverted and self-conscious, but would definitely prefer to NOT speak over speaking to someone I know in a random public run-into usually.

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  2. You are SO funny. I’ll try to remember not to talk to you if I see you when we are both out and about.

    However, I just might bump into you, hoping you’ll drop one of those good salads. Costco stuff is SO good! If you give it up, I promise I won’t announce to the world that I found you.

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  3. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented.

    I totally understand where you’re coming from! That is exactly who I feel and act when I see someone I know out in public. It’s really a silly reaction but it definitely feels necessary.

    Love reading your little tidbits of life!

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  4. Jill says:

    I do the same thing, all of it. I tend to shop in places where I know I won’t run into people. My husband is like your husband and it drives me crazy! I get pulled into those conversations and it feels painful. I used to think there must be something wrong with me, but now I figure it’s just how I am, it’s fine.

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  5. I’m a split personality. Sometimes I’m introverted like you. And then sometimes I’m extroverted and I will approach people, but then have this nagging thought that they might be introverted and wish I’d left them alone. I thought that by my age I was supposed to have all this figured out? Maybe in the next 50 years, I will.

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  6. Darla says:

    It is totally opposite in our household. My husband is the introvert. It does not bother me at all to hold conversation in the middle of Target or the grocery store.

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  7. I am totally and exactly like you. I thought I was the only one with this aversion to public speaking. I duck down different aisles and turn, about face, when needed, and go the opposite direction.

    My mother, who is with me many times in public, is like your husband. She talks to EVERYONE. And tells them stuff about our lives…total strangers…it drives me crazy and then I try to slip away and she’ll call out to me and ask “what was the name of that place we were yesterday” or some other bizarre chit chat. Drives me nuts. I just want to go in the store and get my stuff and get out, but she wants to make it a social affair, lol.

    Sorry, I guess I felt like blabbing. Good thing we didn’t run into each other!

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  8. I am a new reader. Just found your blog and am laughing out loud at this post because you so wonderfully articulated what I have done more times than I’d like to admit. I hate making small talk, wondering if said person knows me or not. I don’t want to be the dorky, self-conscious person who waves and smiles and the person is thinking “who is THAT wierdo?” because they don’t recognize me out of context:) So I empathize.

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  9. Krys Rockwood says:

    I love you Mel!

    I can totally identify with you on this! I have hidden myself from people many times throughout the years. Even good friends. I find that it’s sometimes easier to talk to a stranger in line than people I know. I think it’s my inner shy girl from my youth. She is always lurking behind me whispering in my ear and telling me to stay away from people. My friendly grown up girl is always whispering in my other ear telling me to go talk to them. It’s hard at times since I’m never sure who to listen to.

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  10. Ouida Gabriel says:

    I can understand where you are coming from Mel. I don’t avoid people while out but really, I don’t like to talk much to people. I tend to be overly nice to people when I am at the check out line or getting my coffee but that is more out of letting them know that I appreciate them. I don’t like small talk at all but I do it out of being polite. There are some days that I think if I never spoke to another person again then it would be ok. Perhaps having 6 children who talk all the time and a husband who doesn’t talk about things I find important (learning, politics, religion) makes me feel this way though.

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  11. I sort of shift between introvert and extrovert… but I know exactly what you mean about acting engaging and chatty, then later re-running the highlight reel and picking out the stupid interjections.

    Just the other day at the store I totally missed buying hamburger for dinner because I had to dart down the cleaning products aisle to avoid an acquaintance. I did end up with a good sturdy bristle brush for cleaning cast iron, though. That was pretty cool.

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  12. Allison says:

    I’m so glad other people do this…thanks for being honest…and for making me feel better about myself. Today I drove into my apartment complex and passed the maintenance man, a guy who’s literally been in my apartment at least 5 times. And as soon as he looked my way, I started singing to the song on the radio and looking at a bush that I have never quite studied enough…all to avoid a one-second wave and nod.

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  13. Rachel says:

    Oh, my goodness!! I am SO the same way!! I always assume that people won’t remember me, that I’ll end up having to explain who I am and why I said hi to them (talk about awkward!). Wow….. So glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

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  14. I just found your blog and I could have written this post. You just described me to a tee…it’s very hard to do the hide in your hair thing when out with five kids. I prefer to shop alone just so it’s easier to keep from anyone noticing me, lol.

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  15. Janet says:

    Oh the horror of the store! You described the excruciating duck and dodge perfectly. I will do almost anything to avoid enduring this particular torment, although having three teenage boys still at home makes avoidance an impossibility. It might as well be my second home.

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