Stories from the waiting line…

Once upon a time, my public outings were free of clutter and pollution, a well of mental purity, unsullied by the unsolicited comments from strangers. Not so anymore. Nowadays, stepping outdoors means being on the receiving end of a one-way flow of information, the kind a stranger on a plane will give because he (or she) knows you will never again run in to one another, so you are perfectly safe place to dump all sorts of burdensome information. Let me give you an example.Last Thursday, I’m sitting in a public place, waiting for my name to be called after I have dutifully taken a number. To my left is a large man studiously reading the local paper. To my right is an empty chair that remains vacant for about thirty seconds until a well-dressed woman takes a seat. She’s thin, early sixties, short, blond hair in a v-cut, fashionably touching her brown and gold leopard print shirt. Her left hand is void of a wedding ring, but adorned with the nice, thick metal watch. Her leather shoes are polished and appropriately narrow for the 2019-2020 fashion season. I’m tapping away on my phone, virtually conversing with my friends who are equally happy to spend their time getting thumb callouses when she begins to speak to me.

“I’ve never been in here,” she half-whispers, embracing me as a temporary confidant. My first time as well, I say, looking up long enough to notice her face is tan, smooth save for a few age-given lines. Divorced mother of two or three grown children, maybe a first time grandma I hypothesize. I continue typing. “My oldest son is getting married soon,” she continues (I inwardly preen), “and I gave him my wedding ring for his second wife.” I have two thoughts. The first is that the woman is determined to tell me her life story. The second is that I might as well listen. People’s lives are far more interesting than my own, and what the heck. I’m an author. I like to listen.

“It’s worth $25,000,” she tells me. “It has six diamonds scattered in gold metal chunks…” yadee yedee yadaa. She’s not worried I’m going to stalk and rob her. As she continues, I’m visualizing a ring fit for Liberace. I’m far more interested in whether or not her soon-to-be daughter in law thought it was as ugly as it sounded.

“Did your son like the idea or get offended?” I boldly ask. She enthusiastically tells me that she floated the idea to him. He apparently responded something to the effect “Mom, that’s pure love.”

Sounded more like Son got pragmatic. Second marriage. 30+ yr old fiance. 50-50. When the son gave it to his fiance, she loved it, having it resized.

I turn back to my phone, slightly disappointed the story ended at that point. I shouldn’t have worried. She started in again on the next thing. Her recent job offer (to another division of a local company) was a promotion from one executive position to another. This woman wasn’t hurting, at least not financially.

“In the middle of it all,” she continues, “I feel this lump in my belly—this big,” holding up her clenched fist in the air. I put down my iphone, giving her the full attention she clearly needs. Her OB tells her its nothing, but that she needed a hysterectomy.

“Everything falls you know,” she says in a matter-of-fact voice. No, I tell her, I don’t know, trying to hold back the revolting feeling that graduates up my inerds. “Yeah, it all sort of drops since nothing is there to hold it in.” I’m wondering, ‘what drops, exactly?’ but I my raised eyebrows must say it all. “Your kidneys, sometimes your live,” she goes on. “Your vagina.” My eyes pop, but I just nod and ask, if any of that hurt. With her hand still raised in the air, she triumphantly announces that she got to the bottom of it.

“It was my rectum!” she says proudly, “this big!” pointing to her closed fist with her other hand. “It was at the bottom of my vagina.” Did—wait–did she just say that, in the middle of a public place?

At that point, my name was called, which was a good thing. I had no words. I had no air. I had to leave without hearing the rest of the story, the visual of a guts and stuff dropping out a strangers nether regions in my brain. By the time I get to my car, my appetite is completely left me, but I do have visions of the next random story I’m going to get while waiting in line.