Yesterday I paid my weekly visit to the grocery store only to end up being amazed. I know you may be sitting there reading that last sentence and wondering what on earth could I find that amazed me at a grocery store. Well, it wasn’t so much a what, but more a whom.
I had not needed much in the way of shopping this week so I had ambled up and down the shelf-lined aisles, weaving in and out of the metal maze created by the stock cages. Occasionally I would pause in my wanderings to reach out for some box or jar that caught my eye and then study the label as if it could feed my hunger, which of course it could not.
Sometimes a trip to a store can last an hour or more, not because I am busy filling my shopping cart with food but because I spend time meandering the steel framed paths aimlessly doing nothing more than people-watching. This day, as I was to find out later, while I was watching, I was being watched.
I stood in the queue, my forearms resting on the orange handle of the shopping cart, my mind quiet amidst the racket of screaming children and rustling shopping bags. The lady in front of me was waiting as well, for the people in front of her to unload their treats and place them on the conveyor that would take them to the bar code scanner and into the orange and white bags. She half-turned, a movement I caught in my peripheral vision and I looked casually at her, meeting her eyes for a moment, only to have them quickly glance away.
There was something about her that was familiar. I inhaled slowly and digested the small lavender flowers that made up her perfume. The same scent my Grandmother had worn.
A slow turn of her head again brought her eyes around to study me and I pushed off the handle and stood up, tilting my head slightly and giving her a soft smile. Again she turned away but from time to time would glance back over her shoulder.
Finally, she began to place her shopping on the moving blackness. I don’t know why, but I find it interesting that people sort the cans, boxes and packets onto the belt. It won’t change the price, and when it comes to bagging them, most cashiers don’t pay attention to this methodical routine. I’ve seen them throw cans in the same bag with eggs or bread before. She paid for her groceries, gathered the handles of the bags with her gnarled hands and made her way to the exit.
Meanwhile, I had unloaded my shopping cart and was making sure the numbers on the LED screen coincided with the ones I had seen on the shelves and bagging bread and bagels in the same bag. I paid the young girl and grinned as she spoke the American phrase, “have a nice day” and made my way towards the automatic doors that led to the vast parking lot.
The doors swung open and an audibly older yet wisely confident voice said “excuse me …”. I looked towards the speaker and was astonished to see that it was the woman who had been in the queue ahead of me. I acknowledged her and waited to see what further conversation she had to impart. “I can see you’re not a fella” she intoned before pausing. “So I was wondering if you were one of those lesbian things” she continued. ‘Lesbian things’ I thought, not at all certain where this was heading. I sure didn’t think of myself as a ‘thing’.
I don’t know if my face betrayed me or not, but I do know that I smiled and nodded, responding with a polite “yes Ma’am”. She too nodded and paused in thought before speaking again. This time she leaned in closer, so close that I felt as if her faint lavender scent had bathed me and said with complete seriousness … “Is it true what they say, then?” I blinked and then furrowed my brow slightly, one eyebrow rising Spock-like in question, “Is what true?”
Her eyes met mine and held for the first time as she said “The bigger the nose, the longer the tongue.” Well, I could no longer contain my laughter and shaking my head in disbelief told her that I had never heard that saying. We both smiled and she went her way while I made my way to my car. All the while turning over in my mind our brief conversation but smiling broadly.
As to her question … I really don’t know if it is true or not or some wives tale bearing a striking similarity to the one about the size of a man’s feet relating to his manhood. But I do know that my nose isn’t exactly what I would call small. Maybe I’ll have to submit a questionnaire to Angelika. *grins*
So now you know what I found so amazing, right? No? Well it was this …
In this world of ours where young gay men are tragically committing suicide because they are being persecuted, there is hope. That someone of a generation where acceptance because of one’s gender or sexuality was just as difficult if not more so could approach me ‘in public’ and confidently ask what to her was a serious question ( I think) was not only amazing, but was absolute perfection. Maybe one day there will be no persecution for whatever the reason … maybe.