Last night I decided to take a leisurely shopping trip to target, all by my lonesome, in peace and quiiiiiiet. It was going to be glorious.
I say it WAS going to be glorious because it turned into a really bizarre adventure in stranger oversharing that left me wishing I had just put my pajamas on and stayed home, away from the crazies.
Is crazy contagious? I probably should have burned my clothes...... shit.
It all started normally enough. It was a beautiful evening for a trek across town. I had great parking karma, and the store wasn't overly busy. The best part was that I was there ALONE. Sweet, sweet aloneness. No kiddos demanding toys, or having to use the rest room when I literally just asked them to go before we left the house. No strange questions when I have to buy tampons ("mom, what are those?!). It was calm and I was living for it.
Now, I only went to target for 1 thing, a new laundry hamper for Phoebe's room. So did I need a cart? No. Did I get a cart anyway so that I could fill it up with stuff from the $3 bins? You bet your bippy I did. I can't go to Target and spend less than $100. It's a problem.
I got my cart and my coffee and made my way to the bathing suit section. Not that I am actually going to buy and wear a bathing suit, don't be ridiculous, I was just browsing. I had the time and the determination to make this solo excursion worth it, and damnit, I was going to peruse bathing suits I would never wear.
The bathing suit section did nothing but inspire my self confidence to light itself on fire and crawl into a dumpster, so I moved along to jeans and t-shirts, or as I like to refer to them, "my uniform".
This is where she found me. The crazy.
I had my cart, full of $3 treasures, to the side of me and I was looking at a t-shirt on the shelf to my left. I felt her come up along side of me and reach past my cart to grab a sweater. I politely said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, excuse me" as I moved my cart out of her way.
That was it. That was all she needed.
She turned her body fully towards me and made very aggressive eye contact and said "I bought this sweater in a large instead of a medium. I didn't realize it until I got home. Don't you hate it when that happens?"
I do hate it when that happens. I nodded my head in agreement, and started to move along. But she kept talking.
"I used to wear these smocked shirts in high school in the 70's, it's so crazy how everything that was cool then is coming back"
"These ones seem fairly well made, like the quality seems like it will last"
"I learned to sew when I was 7 years old. My grandma put me in Brownies and when all the other girls were learning the "_____" (I can't remember what she called it now) hem, I was already doing an invisible finished hem"
"My grandma gave me her singer sewing machine, the kind you operate with your knee (*does knee motion*) and I used to make all my own clothes"
This all seems normal enough, right? Like she didn't seem looney at first, maybe just lonely and liked to talk about sewing. She had been talking for a while though, and didn't seem at all concerned with the fact that I had said exactly zero words to encourage her to continue talking. I suppose the fact that I hadn't just walked away was encouragement enough for her. But, friends, it's about to get weird.
"I miss my grandmother a lot. She was always teaching me things. Not like my mom"
"My grandmother was more of a mother to me than my real mom. She was always too busy with her boyfriends".
"I had 4 stepfathers!"
"They were all weirdo's and perverts. The last one was always too lazy to walk down the hall to use the master bathroom, so he would come into my bedroom and pee all over the floor (*pretends to hold an imaginary penis and pee on the floor*- I shit you not!) and then my mom would yell at me to clean it up"
"That's why I graduated early and moved out at 15 years old"
She said lots of other stuff after that, but to be frank, I was too shocked to listen to what any of it was. Let me reiterate at this point that the only thing I had said to her thus far was "Oh, I'm so sorry, excuse me".
I feel terribly for her that she obviously had a troubled upbringing and not a healthy relationship with her mother. I am not trying to make light of those facts. It is very sad.
But guys, I am a STRANGER to her. I have said 6 words to her. I was sort of panicked at this point because she was still talking and I couldn't image what other horrors she was going to disclose to me.
There was a Target employee half way down the aisle from me, folding pants and I know she could hear what was going on. I was looking at her with a "Help me!" look in my eyes. I probably would have mouthed a literal "Help me", but with masks on she never would have seen it. And what would she have done? What could she have done? Nothing really. I was just trapped in the most uncomfortable stranger-oversharing experience of my life.
She was mid- sentence about pervert stepfather #3 when my phone mercifully chirped a notification out of my purse, just loud enough for her to hear it. She paused speaking as I pulled it out of my bag to check it.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, excuse me", I said, for the 2nd time in our interaction. "It's my husband, I need to call him. Have a good evening". I walked away. Let's be honest, I sprinted away.
I was halfway across the store when I realized I had left my cart! I couldn't go back. What if she was still there? There was no amount of $3 treats that was worth round two of that conversation. I say "conversation", like we actually spoke to one another. It was more like her one woman Target sweater aisle monologue.
At that point I figured that my solo trip to Target had lost it's magic. Defeated, I picked out a hamper and proceeded to check out, without my numerous, unnecessary, impulse purchases. Did you really even go to Target if you only come home with one item? I'd like to claim this as a small victory in my 12 step Target program, but sadly if I had been left to my own devices I would have come home with a lot more. Maybe I should thank awkward, oversharing crazy lady? Maybe......
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