It was after 10 p.m. on a Saturday when my husband and I decided an ice cream treat would sooth the pain and embarrassment of getting sunburnt the day before. We drove to the grocery store to get ingredients to make a banana split and a container of Ben & Jerry’s for me.
We were red-faced and tired, we shuffled our feet along as we picked up vanilla and chocolate ice cream then spent way too much time studying the ingredients on the bottles of chocolate syrup and caramel. Did you know that “Magic Shell” doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, however, the regular hershey’s chocolate has regular fructose corn syrup AND high fructose corn syrup?
The vibe in the store got eerie as the lights dimmed. Surely they were not closing this early on a weekend. At this moment we remembered that we forgot to grab the essential ingredient to a banana split: bananas. Now we had to backtrack.
While turning a corner with our cart, we finished a conversation where I said something unimportant or interesting as I am known to do and my husband responded with “huh.”
A woman was at the end of the aisle and turned her head almost “Exorcist”-like and said “Did you say ‘whoa?’” Baffled by her hearing “huh” as “whoa,” and at such a distant from where we were standing, my husband said “what?” She repeated in a serious tone, “Did the word ‘whoa’ just come out of your mouth?”
“No,” he said in a there's-no-way-you-could-have-heard-me denial.
It was so strange that she would have heard us talking and also that she would ask if we said “whoa” as if it were a cool word making a comeback like “groovy” or “radical.”
As we rolled our cart closer to her, she also came towards us with a cart like the conversation never happened. I looked at her and noticed she looked a little angry as she muttered something under her breath and, without looking at either of us, said “...you bearded weirdo.”
Both of us were paralyzed in shock. What just happened?
We mindlessly wandered over to the bananas and wondered if she was self-conscious about her weight. Did she think we were talking about her 5’3” slightly over-weight frame? Was there another bearded weirdo who asked her for money outside and she thought my husband was the same one? Or were there voices in her head telling her that my husband was a creep? Maybe she just really hates beards and the people who grow them.
If I could go back in time, I would have asked, “why did you call him a weirdo?” Surely that wouldn’t have landed me with a broken face in the bread aisle.
Whatever her reason for being so angry, I feel sad for her. She might really hate herself so much that she thought we were talking about her. Or she really is insane.