I'm a So Cal girl. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, like oh my god! Now I guess it's OMG, but anyway, the valley people are not known for their chattiness, especially to strangers. I lived next door to a man and woman for over 25 years and never spoke to them. So, needless to say when we moved to San Diego and met friendly people, I was blown away. I kept looking around in surprise, "are you talking to me?"
Okay, that said, my husband and I are in line at the grocery check out. All our things lined up neat on the conveyer belt. My husband moved up to the credit card thingy and says to the checker- (We're learning to make convo)"hi, how are you?"
It seemed like a harmless question.
This over bleached blond, frosty pink lipped woman who has begun scanning our items launches into what could only be called WTF.
"I envy people who can cook." (She says this as she scans a frozen pizza) "I took home ec and if my teacher hadn't been such a (she whispers the word bitch) I might have learned something."
I realize now that I shouldn't have gasped. It only egged her on.
"Everyone hated her. She was so skinny that if she turned sideways you wouldn't see her. She told me I would never amount to anything."
I thought about pointing out that she was close to mid life and worked as a check out girl for Vons, but she was double bagging the heavy items, so I kept my mouth shut.
"I told her that I would like to make the dress for her funeral."
She nodded at me like this was a real zigger of an insult, but I didn't get it. I added the proper "Oh my God, good for you," just for safe measure.
"One of the reasons I hated her was because my best friend at the time was only fifteen and needed her help because she got behind in class. But this teacher was so mean she wouldn't help her with extra credit." She shoved through my wheat bread. "Oh, good price on that! Anyway, the reason she needed extra help was because her father raped her. Do you have any coupons?"
My husbands just gawked and shook his head. I tried to wander away to the Bag O Ice section but he pulled me back with this "oh hell no!" look on his face.
"Can you believe that? Now poor thing was seven months pregnant by her father and late on her homework and the teacher wouldn 't help her. She was never late with anything!"
Ah, she was late with at least one thing.
My husband tried to change the subject. "Weren't the stuffed olives on sale?"
"Buy two get one free. You only bought one. Tell you what, I'll have Frankie run and get you another bottle. It will just take a minute. So, my girlfriend is so distraught over everything she hangs herself. "
"Ah, don't worry Frankie!" he called. "That's okay, we don't another bottle of olives," he tried to chuckle. "We probably won't even eat these. I don't even know why we bought them." Poor Ky just kind of freaked in this uncomfortable chatter feast. His nose is perspiring, a tale tell sign he's stressed. The poor man grabs for the only question he can think of. He asks the clerk how she is. Again. I don't know what he was thinking. It didn't matter. She didn't hear him. She just kept ringing up our giant box of two ply toilet paper and talking.
" The sheriff said it murder right off the bat. He knew -what seven month pregnant woman goes out on a ledge just for the..." She handed him a receipt and a big smile. "You saved twelve dollars! On the bottom of the receipt there is a survey. You can fill it out if you want. You might win prizes!"
I smile as my husband pushs the cart out the door as fast as it will go. I'm still staring at the clerk. Isn't she going to finish the damn story? No, because she's already moved onto the next customer, now she's talking about how she's going to rescue a wild horse. I just stare at the receipt. Finally, he yells over his shoulder. "Come, let's go. You know you're not going to fill that out."
"I might, it depends. Do they have a box to mark weird?"