That’s when I looked up. Big mistake.
I’ve learned over the years that keeping my head down is often best for everyone, particularly myself.
I think the sounds were what caused me to break my usual habit.
Two ladies stood in line in front of me. They wore knee high boots with about 18 inch heels and lots of buckles and straps, --a style flashback to the ‘70’s or ‘80’s. Pants and boots so tight I envisioned their knees choked off and gangrene. The part of their knit tops that was supposed to cover their cleavage had been removed and reattached to the bottom backside so it stretched to cover their butts –kind of like putting a stocking cap over the trunk of a car. They held phones the size of bricks and probably far smarter than them.
They’d carefully applied their makeup with a paint roller and spatula. Eyelids so dark I thought maybe they’d either been assaulted or cross-bred with a raccoon. They may have used an industrial paint sprayer to apply enough hairspray to keep their hairstyles in check. But it was the sounds they made that originally drew my attention.
Every second word was “Ya-know” which I’m smart enough to know is a contraction of “Ya’ll understand…”
I tried to mentally insert “As you are aware…” and “as you probably understand” as they talked but my mental editing couldn’t keep up with the barrage of Ya-know’s
Every third word was “Like,” which I took to mean “…and then he/she said…”
All this while chomping on gum which reminded me of a cow chewing on its cud, but hey, I’m a country boy at heart.
I’m sure there was a conversation somewhere between the “Ya knows” and the “Likes,” but damned if I could find it.
I didn’t mean to stare, but I simply couldn’t help it. Their dress, makeup, and style was so over the top it was as though E.T. was pushing his glow-in-the-dark fingertip at me trying to say “Wiiiilllllliiiaaaam…”
Not that my staring really mattered. They were completely oblivious of anyone else even being in the grocery store. When the woman in front of them completed her purchase and moved on, they stayed where they were and continued talking in tongues.
I waved to one, caught her attention and politely said, “The register is open now.” With a nod of my head I indicated there was no one in front of them anymore.
If her makeup, dress, oratory skills and general, overall attitude hadn’t made her ugly before, the look she gave me then certainly did. She looked at me as though I was an unsavory bug she just now noticed on the floor behind them. It quickly passed through my mind that she might even spit on me, I was so lowly.
The two edged forward, continued their cud chewing and mooing, completely ignoring the nice lady ringing up their purchases. Apparently, she wasn’t worthy of more than a disgusted glance either.
And when they were done dealing with the likes of us and able to rise back to the level they apparently thought they descended from they walked away.
When they walked away?
Now, I’d heard of “mincing” before, but I think this was the first time I’d actually witnessed it. Even more impressive: they defined the elusive act of “mincing” while wearing boots that, had they fallen, would have been the equivalent of dropping from a second story window.
And here’s the part where I get myself in trouble.
I laughed even while knowing this image would –sadly—not soon fade away.
They stopped, slowly turned around and gave me the disgusted look again, but this time she arched a painted eyebrow just enough to indicate she wondered what I was laughing at.
For some reason I had the idea that they would find it funny to share in the joke.
“You’re mincing when you walk.” I choked out through my laughter. “That’s just so…perfect.”
I knew then they didn’t share my humor. One waved at me and, like the teenager I’d met a couple of months ago, she was disabled, missing three fingers and a thumb. I was still laughing, so I missed what the other one said. Something like, “Trucks moo!” Which didn’t surprise me because it made about as much sense as their previous discussion.
They minced a bit more quickly out of the store and I finished my purchase. Through the whole thing, the cashier was smart enough to ignore us all.
I’d like to be able to say that these women were simply teenagers still attempting to discover and define themselves and who they were. I’d like to be able to say they were early twenty-somethings attempting to attract the male of the species (as nature often works) so they could bravely go forward to continue the species.
Sadly, I can’t say either.
At their youngest I’d guess their age somewhere in the mid 40’s. Clearly their speech and walk didn’t correlate with their age.
Later, it got me to thinking about my own way of speaking and my own way of walking. I tend to speak low and softly, often causing folks to ask me to repeat what I’ve said. My walk is, I think, fairly straightforward. I put one foot in front of the other and try to keep the forward momentum going. That’s it.
But if I’m starting to notice others’ ways of speech and movement, maybe I should focus on my own a bit. Maybe there are those noticing mine.
So now I’m attempting to enunciate a bit more clearly, but hang onto the lowness of my voice. I’m trying to put just a hint of swagger in my walk, but not so much that it’s noticeable or causes me to throw out a hip.
Who knows? If I can refine the speech and swagger enough I might even brush upon a little bit of cool.
But I’m certain I won’t push it too far.
Now that I’ve seen it in action, I will never mince.