The tall, athletic figure glowed in neon orange, his face, hair, and fingernails obscured by stretchy fabric. The walking Cheez Curl wore khaki shorts and a T-shirt over his orange second skin. He moved about the bookstore in no great hurry to get anywhere.
My husband approached the figure with an idea. It seemed a most reasonable request, if you knew him.
"Would you sit next to my wife?" he asked.
Oblivious, I perched on the bench by the periodicals, picturing one of my upcycled frocks featured in Belle Armoire magazine. A blur of blinding orange walked by and pretzeled into sitting position a foot away. I sucked in my stomach and de-slouched out of habit. We sat in silence, my brain now only half-engaged in positive visualizing, the other half calculating the chances of my husband re-emerging to relieve me of my dilemma. He's so much better at making small talk.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. I'm all for flying your freak flag high, but it was starting to feel creepazoidal.I could've asked the anthropomorphic Mac & Cheese why he was dressed like that, I suppose. Except I didn't care to know. It seemed like a moronic question. Nobody's ever obligated to explain personal fashion choices to me.
The silence was awkward, like when you see your friend's odd haircut and don't right away say anything. But you can tell she's waiting. C'mon, let's hear it, she dares silently. The longer you stall, the more torturous the waiting becomes. There isn't any right moment.
"Pssst!" someone hissed. I'd know that pssst anywhere. In that instant I knew I was being pranked. I let out my breath slowly. I turned and glanced over the Human Traffic Cone's shoulder to see the hubs grinning like a chimp. Mr. Orange Soda looked up from his pretend-reading.
"Well, hello!" I said perkily. The hubs cracked up. The Costumed One got up, his performance completed. I felt the ice break between us.
"Can you breathe?" I asked him.
"Breathing's not a problem," he insisted, lips moving deftly under fabric. His enunciation was flawless. I couldn't tell what his facial expression was, and for the first time I empathized with people afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome.
"Can you see?" I pressed. Yes, he assured me, just barely not tripping over the bench as he began to walk away.
"You were supposed to be spooked," the husband chastised. Me? Meh.
I once scolded a burglar I caught in our garage. Our youngest daughter, four at the time, walked in on my tirade.
"Mom, why are you being so rude to that man?"
I dispatched her to her room without an explanation to resume my barrage. I made him put back the old VCR he'd been carrying to his pick-up. As he drove away, I called in his license plate to the sheriff's department. Part of me wondered if I should've just let him take it. Old technology in a dusty garage can be so depressing.
Anyhoo, as you can tell by now, it takes a lot to discombobulate me. It's much easier to rattle the hubs. The other night he came in while I was dressing to teach a dance class. I had on a clingy black strapless thingy that made him whistle. Then he caught himself.
"You're dressing provocatively. I'm starting to worry."
"Dear," I said, "It's called underwear. You wear something on top of this. It holds me in."
Though sometimes my game’s totally off. The other day we had the two grandfellas over for a visit minus the parental units. The last time we'd had this privilege there was only one of them, and I was so proud of how well we’d managed with him that I blogged about it here. He was our grandparenting guinea pig.
Since then, the hubs had been talking up the potential adventure of taking the wee ones duck-feeding. We finally got the chance when they were dropped off to spend the morning with us while our daughters helped move some furniture. Before our nature walk was over one of the grandfellas would become one with the ducks…
Next post: When Oma’s judgment is off, the grandfella eats it.