Friday, April 15, 2005

If you think of a good title for this one, let me know

The woman with the long, black hair and pleasant, open face said, "I wish I could choose my daughters-in-law, because I would choose you."

That was just 20 minutes after we began chatting while waiting in line at the Community College rummage sale. I was using an old, wheelie, office chair as a shopping cart, pushing it along in front of me so I wouldn't have to carry the enormous box of books I was about to purchase. Such a bargain, too. Most of the books were rubbish, but I had unearthed (and believe me, I literally had to dig my way to the bottom of a 9-foot pile of old books to find these - it was like an acheological expedition) a 13-volume Cambridge Modern History. The set was the third printing (1907) of the first edition (1904) , and included an index volume and a full-color atlas volume. Not one page of the entire set was dog-earred, and I couldn't find any pencil or pen marks. Sadly, two of the volumes (including the atlas) have taped spines, but otherwise show no signs of use whatsoever. Clearly students at the Community College have never had much interest in history. The price for this marvelous collection? $1. One friggin' dollar! And they're just 2 years away from being antiques! Such a bargain.

So there we were, standing in line in a dingy, dusty building, surrounded by broken chairs and stacks of used computer monitors. She's a nurses' aid at the local hospital who had just come off a 12-hour night shift. I asked her what she thought of the new shift arrangement (which has been causing rather a lot of controversy) and she was grateful for my sympathy. We talked about the problems with the healthcare system in general (more accurately, the lack thereof) and she seemed touched by my concern not just for the patients, but also for the care providers. She asked about me and I told her about England and my experiences. She asked if I was single (yup), and if I was looking for anyone (not really).

"You should go out with my son," she said. "He's tall and a really nice boy. He lives with me (his dad left us), and he's doing his second Associates degree at the Community College. He's a Christian, too, if that sort of thing is important to you. And he just quit smoking." That's what she said. Here's what I heard: "That hairy ape over there is my son. He's an unambitious mama's boy who can't support himself and has no idea what he's doing with his life. He's also a mindless Jesus-krispy who would rather believe a 2000-year-old piece of literature than think for himself. And he just quit smoking."

I politely explained that I wasn't looking for a relationship at the present, because I am returning to England in the fall and my time in (insert name of cultureless dung-hole town here) is limited, but thanks all the same. The dark-haired nurse, however, was not to be deterred. "I wish I could choose my daughters-in-law, because I would choose you."

Thank god I'm fit. My atletic prowess permits me to run at great speed from pushy future mothers-in-law whilst carrying very heavy boxes of old books.

(Frustrating aside: I had actually been chatting up a fit nerd in a lab coat and frapuchino glasses who was buying some used microscopes when this whole scene began. Once the nurse began talking I was unable to escape her converstational clutches, and the fit, bargain-hunting scientist vanished. Crap.)

No comments: