Every now and then, someone gives you a look you just won’t forget.
There’s the look of absolute pride from your trainer the first time you nail a flying lead change. There’s the look of utter appreciation and blissful relaxation when your partner realizes that yes, you have perfected the French 75.
And there’s the look of complete shock when your parents look at your wide eyes during after your first musical rehearsal and realize they’ve made a real miscalculation about what your interests would be.
But none of those looks have had the gravitas, the unexpected force, or the complete honesty of the look that this lady at Bed Bath and Beyond shot me this weekend.
I can only describe the look in her eyes as the kind of panic that would come when you open your front door and discover that what you thought was your house this whole time was really a 1920s dirigible factory and you aren’t you, you’re an orphaned street girl named Bettye Margaret and have been forced to work in this factory until your fingers bleed.
It was the kind of look that would come across your face if you went to sleep in your bed, but when you woke up, you weren’t in your bed, you were, in fact, still in your mother’s womb, but you were 33 years old and managed to keep a job in there, but were somehow still late to work.
It was the face you’d make if you went to take a sip of wine, but instead of a lovely claret, your glass was full of bees.
She was, in a word, terrified. And very angry about it.
And why wouldn’t she be? When she went to work that day, she had no idea how perilous that day would become.
I don’t know what happened in the few hours or few minutes before she happened upon myself and The Boyf, but in the few minutes before we met her, here’s what happened to us.
Approximately two hours before contact, The Boyf and I realized that we were having company for a couple of days and that we hadn’t done laundry and didn’t have anything clean for our guests to sleep on. So we did what any self-respecting childless couple would do: we went out to buy new sheets.
And while we were picking out sheets, we also discovered that we needed tissue box holders, and a new cup for toothpaste tubes and razors and things, and maybe one of those things that makes spaghetti out of vegetables because let’s get healthy, right?
We were standing in the tissue box holder aisle. Both of our hands were super full of tissue box holders, towels, sheets, bathroom cups, Keurig things, and a glass pitcher that I ~definitely~ need for my desk at work, and Bed Bath and Beyond Lady approaches the two of us who are together and who are buying household goods for what is most likely the same household.
BBBL: Do you need a cart?
Boyf: Yeah, that’d be great, thank you.
She left, presumably in search of a cart, and The Boyf and I continued filling up our arms with things that are 100% necessary to have.
After a couple of minutes, I see her en route back to us, cart in tow. I put my very crucial coffee pods on The Boyf’s giant pile of all-important shit for wine bottles that he found after we got the sheets and walked toward the Lady.
I made eye contact with Bed Bath and Beyond and she reacted in a way that totally makes sense when you think about it.
Her pupils dilated, she yanked the cart back, her voice tightened, and she took several steps in the opposite direction of me.
“Can I help you?!” she snapped, loudly enough to be heard over the clattering of the cart that she was very actively wrestling away from me.
“What?” I asked, foolishly, as she had made her point of view loud, very loud, and rather clear.
“Can. I HELP you?”
The cart was now very far away from me. And a couple people were watching.
She had a look in her eyes hat would only come if you looked in the mirror to splash water on your face in the morning, looked down, and when you came back up and looked in the mirror again, the girl from The Ring, the boy from The Grudge, and the thing from Lights Out were flanking you out of nowhere.
Bed Bath and Beyond Lady was scared as fuck.
I looked around behind myself for whoever was causing all the trouble.
No one was there.
I looked back at her and realized that yes, she was talking to, snapping at, afraid of… me.
“Oh,” I said, and actually put my hands in the air, because programming, and said “I’m with him.”
I pointed to The Boyf. To the nice white guy in glasses and freckles this woman had just seen me standing next to, flirting with, buying faux chrome accoutrements with just seconds before.
She looked at him, looked at me, back at him, then back to me.
“Oh,” said, and returned her eyes to his. “Here you go.” And handed the cart to him.
I watched her walk away and hoped that she would be okay.
I also realized her F5 panic attack was my fault.
I mean, you can’t just run up on a lady holding out your hands for the thing she said she was going to get for you without prepping first.
How was she to know that I wasn’t just some crazed brown person about to stab her to death in the sanctuary of her workplace and then drop out of school? What else was she to imagine other than me ripping that cart out of her hands, setting it on fire to stage a BLM protest, and then not tipping on the way out? She had seen me with The Boyf, but how was she to know if our laughing and picking out matching patterns was the act of a couple who has spent half a decade together, or the well-designed ruse of a crafty con artist. She couldn’t know this, and so all she knew was that it was only a matter of time before I came for her.
I should have guessed this might happen.
Remember that laundry problem? Yeah, that meant I was wearing a hoodie. I should have just swung by Anthropologie on the way to Bed Bath and Beyond instead of terrorising this woman with my casual weekend wear. (Since when do Oreos do casual, anyway? Have you seen my celery dish collection?). A Rhianna song (I think, could have been Beyonce or Missy Elliot or Justin Timberlake, I don’t really know) came on and I foolishly bounced along to a couple of beats. I was just practicinng my swing out, but I didn’t shift my weight properly on the 3-And, so it probably looked like bloodlust. And my hair, don’t even ask. It had been like 4 days since my blowout.
All this to say, Bed Bath and Beyond Lady, I’m super sorry for the confusion. Thank you for the cart. And I hope you’re doing all right.
What terrifying things do people mistake you for in public?
Also: I need a better nickname for The Boyf. Any suggestions?
Let us know in the comments!
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