I have a friend who works in the small city where I once lived. She has always maintained, "the people are weird but they're so kind they'd give you the shirts off their backs." It was not a statement that I ever felt compelled to test, and yet it always hovered in the back of my mind.
Today, I was in a dollar store in this particular locale. I was perusing items in one of the aisles when suddenly, I heard a raspy female voice, "Hey, hey, you lady". I looked around and seeing no lady I wondered whether the woman at the other end of the plasticware area could possibly be speaking to me. Her appearance was a bit daunting. She was hunched over, had a loosely dangling navy blue shirt and pants and unruly, matted hair. She carried some kind of sack purse that almost dragged along the ground as she sidled toward me. I backed up nervously wondering what she might want. My mind raced. Did she want to sell me something? Was she going to ask for cash? Was she looking to buy drugs? Perhaps she just needed me to reach a shelf higher than my waist and above her eye level.
"Yessss", I answered weakly all the while trying to figure out the quickest escape route.
"Where'd you get those pants? You're a big size. What size are you about a 12 or 14? What size are those pants?"
Feeling as though I were conversing with *Don Vito Corleone, but trying to be the ever polite Canuk, I choked out "Er...I believe they're a 12 petite."
"Do they stretch?" she inquired.
"I'm pretty sure they're made of an expandable fabric," I responded without thinking.
"I usually wear a size 18," she stated.
"I would never have guessed that," I said. Could I get myself in any deeper?
She stared, nodded and smiled approvingly. Was I about to be a victim of one of those muggings where you lose your shoes, ipod, jacket or in my case some other piece of essential apparel? Would I be leaving this store without my, gulp, pants? I started to perspire profusely. I could see her thinking as I started to edge away.
"I like them. I want them," she announced.
As I turned pale and once again tried to make my getaway, I heard her ask, "where did you say you got them?"
"Reitman's," I responded.
"I wear an 18. Do you think they have them in 18?"
"I'm fairly certain they do," I answered as the blood flowed back into my face. At this point I was feeling a bit foolish about my paranoia and more than a little relieved. We discussed the most convenient store locations for her since she would have to travel by bus, in order to get "the pants".
When she asked if I had a car, I made my hasty retreat.
*Don Vito Corleone - The Godfather