A story

Last night I was up till three thirty reading Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, a novel about a working mother trying to juggle an intense job in finance, two young kids, a nanny, husband, and possible affair. After I finished I was so lonely for Erik I cried for half an hour.

This morning when I woke I looked puffy-eyed and tired, and I had that dazed “asleep” feeling I always wake up with after I’ve fallen asleep crying. While I was washing my face I realized the crying was probably as much a product of sleep deprivation and my nearing that-time-of-the-month, and it’s a good thing I didn’t email Erik about it-as I’d thought about doing last night (or, rather, this morning)-since my message probably wouldn’t even have been coherent.

I didn’t feel like staying in so I looked up some garage sales and set out. Days when I’m in that post-crying asleep state, I really shouldn’t even be conscious. I have a hard time focusing both mentally and visually. The best thing to do would be to go back to sleep until things right themselves, but even I don’t have that kind of time. It’s probably something like being on drugs, the ones that make you really spacey. This is bad enough when I’m a pedestrian but definitely worse when I’m driving. Add to this the fact that my sunglasses are no longer in my current prescription (I couldn’t afford to get new ones this summer because I got new regular glasses). I just wasn’t thinking or seeing all that clearly. I got lost on the way to my first garage sale, thanks to Mapquest. When I was nearly to the next destination, a church thrift shop, I somehow missed that a left turn was unprotected. Fortunately I wasn’t going too fast, but I got honked at and a car had to swerve to avoid me and it was scary. That won’t happen again.

When I walked into the church, a tall black girl wearing a backless sequined orange gown was standing in the hall being fussed over by old ladies. They were giving her advice on what to do about a bra. I heard her say, “Well usually I try to go for a more natural look…” More kindly old ladies greeted me in the furniture room. I considered an old wall mirror with a Pear’s Soap advertisement painted on it.

In the other room, I was happy to find kitchenwares in good condition. Sometimes you go to these sales and everything is ugly or broken and the elderly volunteers talk to each other but ignore you. While I was looking at a set of six drinking glasses, the same girl reappeared, this time in a grey wool turtleneck dress, and the ladies flocked around her again. Other ladies swooped on a young Hispanic couple with a baby and began cooing to the baby and admiring her little earrings. These old ladies were sweet but not annoying, and not old enough to be doddering.

I picked out a bunch of things and went to the table to pay. Two ladies pulled out newspapers and began to wrap the glassware. One of them called prices to another lady, who began adding them up on a notepad. When everything totalled $3.00 they said, “Good girl,” because it was such a nice round number, and I was pleased because they were. One of them told me I had picked out such a lovely set of glasses. Another lady came by, saw them, and asked if I was going to have old-fashioneds in them. I smiled and she took my arm and said, “Oh, I have a story about old-fashioneds.

“My husband and I were in Lake Tahoe-well, we used to go there a lot when we lived in San Francisco, this was in the fifties-and he said he would go to the gambling tables, so I said okay, I’ll meet you at four.

“I was playing the nickel machines and a man came and sat next to me, and he asked if he could buy me a drink. So I thought, well, and I said yes, and when the girl came I asked her for ‘an old-fashioned, a little on the sweet side.’

She laughed and continued. “After a little while I looked at my watch and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness, it’s so late, I have to go meet my husband.'”

More laughing. “And he said, oh he said, ‘Hell, you didn’t tell me you were married!'” The word “hell” comes off her tongue gently; she uses it like someone whose normal vocabulary contains that word only so she can explain to small children where bad people go when they die. “And I said, ‘You didn’t ask me!'”

I laugh and the other ladies laugh too. “He said, ‘Hell, you didn’t tell me you were married,'” she repeats, “and I said, ‘You didn’t ask me.’ And this was in the sixties. Oh when I think about that now, oh, when I think about it… ‘an old-fashioned,’ I said, ‘a little on the sweet side’…”

One of the ladies who wrapped my glasses, a small person named Laila with neat, short dark hair and glasses, hands me a plastic bag with my purchases and thanks me. The old-fashioned lady releases my arm gently. “We’re open tomorrow, tell your friends.”

I walked out and I wasn’t feeling bad or tired anymore.

The Saint Ambrose Church Thrift Shop is closing this weekend and everything must go. If you are in the area and could use some dishes, clothes, shoes, furniture, CDs… give it a try. There is plenty of parking and it is free.

Six new glasses.

2004 September - Newglasses

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]

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2 responses to “A story

  1. Cute story

    Isn’t it amazing how meeting nice strangers can make your day? My encounter wasn’t nearly as personal or in-depth, but I recently went to Berkeley to drop off a form; everyone I came upon was so friendly and polite – quite the opposite of what I’d expected them to be, for some reason – that it just made me feel happy to have spoken with them.

    Nice glasses too πŸ™‚

    • Re: Cute story

      I’ve noticed it before, too. I don’t know why it is that friendly strangers can make you feel better in a way that friends and family sometimes can’t. Maybe it’s just that encountering them is indication of a kind world?

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