A Strange Phenomenon

I’ve written in the past about people stopping me in public to ask me questions about my twins. I can understand the curiosity, and frankly they’re just so gorgeous I’m surprised that anyone ever walks past us without stopping. What baffles me is that I am frequently approached by strangers when I’m by myself. I NEVER initiate conversations with strangers in public. It’s just not in my personality. I don’t stop people in the grocery store and start chatting about cereal or whatever. I just don’t view a trip to Kroger’s as a social event. Yet, I hardly make it through a shopping trip without a stranger striking up a conversation with me. Am I that approachable? I don’t feel like I’m putting out that vibe, but maybe I am and just don’t know it! Here are a few of the more memorable encounters I’ve had while grocery shopping.

At a local farmer’s market, on a weekday, at about 2 pm, a woman stopped me with a pressing question. She looked to be in her 40’s, was wearing running shorts and a t-shirt, and seemed a bit harried. She asked me, “What do you recommend for lunch.” Seriously, this woman walks up to me and starts out with that question. I replied, “What do you mean? Are you hosting a lunch for a group of people?” She answered, “No. I just need ideas for lunch. Like, what did you have for lunch today?” At this point, I was wondering why I had entered into this conversation. Couldn’t I have just walked away? But no, I inform her that I had salad and a sandwich. She seemed to like that answer, but then asked, “What’s that Mexican parsley called?” I said, “Do you mean cilantro?” She said,  “Yes!” Then she hurried off, having gathered whatever information she seemed to want from me. I still wonder why I looked like the kind of person who could guide her in her quest for the right lunch.

Recently, on a Saturday morning at my local Kroger’s, I was stopped by an elderly gentleman wearing boots, starched jeans, and a western style shirt complete with pearl snaps. He trapped me with this opener, “Could you help me? You’re probably smarter at these things than me. Do you now where to find the butter beans?” I did not know where the butter beans were nor what a butter bean was, but I didn’t want to betray my ignorance since he had led with the statement that I was probably smarter than him about beans. So, I walked with him to the dried beans section and hoped that the butter beans would jump out at me. It’s at this point that I realized that he was not alone. While we were talking, a “hefty” man in a motorized shopping cart had been reversing towards us from the end of the aisle. He stopped next to us and joined in the search for the butter beans. Finally the man in the western shirt pointed to the lima beans, which apparently are also called butter beans, but he was not satisfied. “Where are the big ones?” Well, I just couldn’t help him anymore. I informed him that they just had the one size, then the two men began debating about which one of them would be doing the cooking. I used the distraction to slip away, all the while asking myself why I was so lucky to be chosen for their bean mission.

Just this very afternoon, again at Kroger’s, a woman tried to pick out the Mother’s Day card for my mom for me. Like all women, I must read every card on the shelf before making my selection. This woman was likewise engaged, when she said to me, “They just have so many beautiful cards.” I replied, “Hmm mmm,” although I was thinking that Kroger’s has a disappointing greeting card section. She then  picked up a card, handed it to me,  and says, “Like this one! It’s so beautiful, and it even matches your pants!” I took the card from her, which was a dark fuchsia like my pants, and felt strangely obligated to choose it even though I hadn’t finished looking! Well, then the woman wouldn’t stop lamenting over the fact that she couldn’t find the correct envelope for the card she had picked. Finally I just put the card down, thinking, “I don’t have to pick that card, just because some stranger handed it to me.” I grabbed the card I’d had my eye on and quickly left the section, hoping to finish my shopping in peace!

I really don’t know what it is about me that makes strangers want to start conversations. Maybe I seem friendly, or maybe I look like someone who knows a lot about food.

I don’t know who these children are. My daughters are still babies, and those girls look like big kids.

One thought on “A Strange Phenomenon

  1. Rebekah…
    Your babies are the BEST!
    I love your writing!
    I’m sending you love and best wishes from Pittsburgh, PA…

    Catherine Sweet

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