Confession: I really like meeting new people. I like chit-chatting in the grocery store over the price of lemons. I like discussing training plans while on the treadmill at the gym. I like joking around with moms at the splash park about weird kids' television. I ask people about their t-shirts. I comment on their hair. Anything to get my foot in the door, because I love a good conversation, and a possible new friend. But ...
...sometimes people are categorically off their rocker. (They are called "strangers" for a reason.) And I seem to attract the crazies the way Tim Horton's Iced Cappuccino attracts me: all the freaking time.
The earliest I remember this happening was when I was around 16 years old. I was at the gas station (back when everyone paid cash for gas and you had to go inside the gas station to pay, and yes, we totally had color television then) (but not really the Internet) (But we did have C&C Music Factory and Marky Mark was feelin' the Good Vibrations so don't feel too bad) paying for my gas when the attendant (a gentleman of about 60 years) held out his arm and demanded, "Touch it." (I'm pretty sure that today he could be arrested for that.) This followed.
Attendant: You want to know what skin cancer feels like? Touch it.
Kelly: I'm cool, thanks.
Attendant: Always wear sunscreen.
Oh. So it was like a live Public Service Announcement. Totally makes sense.
This happened recently while we were in line at McDonald's. We just left the zoo. Logically McDonald's Play Land follows the zoo because I am a generally thirsty person (in a non-diabetes kind of way) and Diet Coke is a $1 at McD's. Also, ice cream is $1. Everybody wins. I am standing in line with the four kiddos, and a sweet 60-ish lady looks at my family. She makes eye contact. And we are off. (Yes.)
Sweet Lady: Oh, my. Are they all yours? (Every.single.time.)
Kelly: Yep. *nervous giggle as I deliver the standard next line* They keep me busy.
Sweet Lady: You are a good mom, I can tell. (Seems good so far, right?)
Sweet Lady: You are not anxious and nagging them. (Specific praise, nice.)
Kelly: Thank you. I do have my days, though.
Sweet Lady: I come from a family of six. I'm number five.
Kelly: Oh, that's a good sized family.
Sweet Lady: Yeah, my dad was an alcoholic. Only one of us isn't an addict. (Um, what?)
Kelly: I'm sorry to hear that. That's hard.
Sweet Lady I Met One Minute Ago: Yeah, I had all my kids taken away from me. I suffer horrible depression. Sometimes I don't even get out of bed.
Kelly: ... That's, wow. I'm sorry. That's hard.
Sweet Lady: My brother is the most screwed up one.
Sweet Lady: Crack.
(At this point, the conversation is really completely out of my control. I can now only pray for our ice cream and Diet Coke to be served so we can play in the Play Land where the only crack we are exposed to comes from a sagging diaper.)
Fortunately I am getting better at handling these little exchanges. Last Thursday, a complete stranger washing her hands next to me in the bathroom of a Red Robin starting talking like we were mid-conversation. It went like this.
Stranger: I can't go home because channel 7 is at my house because that's where Bobby is recovering from his bullet wound. But I'm like, I can't sit around here anymore. Like, I know he got shot and whatever, but I still need to have fun.
Kelly: Red Robin certainly is fun. Did you see the airplane fan?
Stranger: He's just such a baby sometimes. It's a f***ing bullet, and it got removed, and he wasn't even going to die or anything. Now he's all, "Get my cigarettes, I need the remote" like I don't have stuff to do.
Kelly: Did you know you can use a stun gun to treat scorpion bites?
Stranger: No sh*t?
I haven't tested this theory
at all fully but I'm pretty sure the stun gun fact will rescue you from any situation. It's now my go-to strategy for exiting Crazyville. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Feel free to use this the next time a Deceptively Normal Woman in the Meijer Pharmacy asks your opinion on different brands of douche. (Totally not a typo.)(But I really think it should have been.)(Because why would Deceptively Normal Woman even heed the advice of a complete stranger?)(Do I really look like a douche expert?)(Also, because I know you are wondering - my favorite douche? Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino.)
I haven't tested this theory