I ran into Susan at the grocery store today as I was choosing which Quaker oatmeal would best serve my fiber needs.
You know Susan.
We all know Susan.
Susan presents you with questions as if she were the midwife to your first born son. Susan believes her questions might one day change the world, while you believe that too much exposure leads to stomach ulcers. Susan capitalizes your attention so completely from fibrous selections, that you must attend to her utterances if you are to ever pass go.
It was tactical, I must admit.
She stuck to my blind spots as she approached, using her knockoff Kate Spade satchel to bounce off other loitering oatmeal consumerists, pinball-style.
When I said I ran into Susan at the grocery store today, I mean, really, that I was ran into bySusan at the grocery store today.
I had been pondering the essentialism of humanity before the incident in question. Are normal oats really not gluten-free? I had been asking myself, as I held a bag of oats with an anti-gluten agenda.
She broke me from my concentration. The bag slipped from my suddenly sweaty hands. I’m really not a social shopper.
“Susan. Hullo, chappie.”
When I am caught in the open like this, I tend to revert back to ancestral roots.
Susan grabs my arm. That’s aggressive, I thought, as I looked at her purple dragon-scaled claws getting friendly with the folds in my jacket.
“You’re back from Austria!”
I was glad to be informed.
Despite the fact that her latest statement contained no inflection, she had apparently begun her strands of questions. I had braced myself for this instinctually upon first sweat-gland release.
She looked at me. Waiting.
She released my arm and clapped her claws together, giggling loudly from her perch next to my left ear. My left ear decided to go on holiday.
“It’s so nice to see you!”
I barred my teeth at her in what I hoped was a friendly, relaxed manner. She looked at me again, waiting. Wait, did she ask another question? I stared at her black eyes for a bit longer. I remembered the requirements of conversation I was being expected to uphold.
“Absolutely capital to be back in the motherland.”
Susan smiled and gave my shoulder a squeeze. My pinky finger began to file a lawsuit. Then she inhaled deeply, and I knew what was coming. The beginning of the questions. The real structurally-accurate question motherload.
We would be here for days with an inhale like that.
My systems began blazing. Flaring. Flailing. My adrenals had been fully commandeered by the social nutcase within me. My fiber was very low.
Shut it down, Jos! Repeat. Shut! It! Down!
My answer to whatever exited the caverns first would determine the fate of the entire day.
“I bet your dog is happy to see you! Is she doing good?”
This was unexpected. I don’t get many inquiries over my border collie. Especially not as the first question. I had to be spontaneous. I had to adapt.
“She is doing mountains of good, I’m so glad you asked, Susan.”
Susan gave another cackle, but before she could reload, I pressed on.
“Absolute mountains of good. You knew about the non-profit she started last May, didn’t you? The one which provides clean popcorn to Boyscout-deprived communities? Well, and Sus, you really will be the first to know this, she was offered a partnership with NPR. NPR! It’s amazing, really, we are so proud of her.
“She works so hard, you know. There really is a reason for the expression, ‘work like a dog’. She’s the poster child for that. Seriously. That’s new as well, she has officially become the poster-child for the Goodwill “work like a dog!”.
“NPR has asked her to host the new special on Tuesday midmornings, called ‘Wake Up Not Late Enough so that You Can Still Eat Breakfast And Lunch!’ She’ll be merging her passion for clean popcorn with her anti-brunch agenda. She’s going to change America, she really is.
“She’s the captain of the Fighting Fetchers, did you know? What with the full time training, the extra personal practices on the stairs–she tries to do at least three or four hours of ball-down-the-stairs–and the new book she’s writing, I’m concerned she has enough time to eat all three meals like she likes.
“We do our best in the Rozell household to supply her with reams of paper and pencils that don’t require opposable thumbs. We avoid brunch at all costs. She’s going to change America, she really is.”
I swiveled, face placid. I selected the first gluten-filled bag of oats my damp palms could suction to. I left the anti-gluten bag on the ground. Some employee who didn’t have such stakes could attend to its replacement.
Susan didn’t stop me.
And she didn’t ask anymore questions.