A gentleman walks by me, pleasant as pie, smiles and says “Mornin’”. The green dress clashes terribly a in huge fashion faux pas by partnering it with dirty brown Muck Lucks; white tube socks rolled to the knee cap. He’s a regular, and likes to chat a bit. One hand gently pressed against his lower lip as he waits for my response. Today his nails are black, but only a misshaped swampy island in the center of each.
“How’s it going?” My smile stiffens as I realize what I just said. To me, that’s like saying “hello”. With friends, it’s a real question, but acquaintances, not so much. It’s habit. I wish I was hiding under one. Tonight I’m tired. Didn’t get even an hours’ sleep. My back hurts. I’m just not in a good mood.
I try to lighten lives every day, thinking by sharing one tiny personal bit of info with another person, it shows they are not alone. I’ve done this my entire life, ever since a friend of mine died when we were young. It ended up being a freak accident. But suicide had been a topic we were all interested in at the time, I can’t remember why, but maybe it was just our age. My friend had written something and it grew into my roots. “If just one person had acted like I mattered, anyone, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Sitting on her bed, as I read her diary, she’d written a suicide note just weeks before, getting ready. She’d changed her mind; I never new why, but she didn’t do it. Just the idea of it, hurt my soul. I thought her life was fine. I also thought I was her friend, her good friend. Yet I had no idea she was contemplating suicide. I’d heard her say many times, that she felt alone in school, at home, even when she was out with friends. She felt apart, somehow. We always seemed to have fun, to me.
It stayed with me, became part of me, became a first response for me. I’ve always joked with people, strangers, friends… always. I love to laugh. And for the most part, I take the time to listen to people, even when they’re ranting, because everyone needs to be heard.
So the gentleman smirks, and launches into his latest problem; he needs a new razor blade for his electric razor, which I know instantly we only carry the cheap plastic emergency kind in the store. His full beard is at least an inch long, so I grin and say, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to become a Quaker.”
His giggle becomes a twitter and I try to make my escape. Three more times he comes to the counter and pulls out the hair and grease filled razor, showing me the old blade, in the hopes that new ones will magically appear. Each time my skin crawls at the nasty wad of pubes still stuck inside.
His last trip to the counter was timed to coincide with an empty store. Razor now back in the bag over his wrist, he says to me, “I want you to know I appreciate the fact that I never get the “judgy” tone from you. You talk to me like I’m “normal”. I just wanted to say thanks.” He was blushing a lovely shade of apricot, his eyes sparkled in the bright light.
I said, “The day I become perfect, is the day I will judge you. And you are normal. You are more normal than a lot of people I know.” For someone who was almost six feet tall, he ducked his head down so low I couldn’t see his eyes any longer, but his hand darted out and squeezed mine quickly before he left the store at a run.
I smiled, feeling good for a moment, and thought, “Now, how will I break it to him that the Muck Luck’s make him look like Grandma Eskimo!”
Another day… another try.