I sometimes attract weird people in weird places. I come by it honest--my parents are the same way. My dad sees zany stuff every day as he goes into people's homes for inspections. (He's a claims adjuster for an insurance company.) I think my favorite of his experiences was the time he went in to inspect a kitchen fire to find his clients had a pet monkey in their house...and the monkey smiled at him. People love my mom, especially older people, so she finds herself in a lot of conversations with strangers. I must have one of those faces that makes people think I really REALLY care (Not that I DON'T care, but, um, yeah, ok, sometimes I just don't). Over the years, I've found myself in some truly bizarre conversations with complete strangers. I've also had the pleasure of meeting several versions of "that person." You know the one...he/she has no "edit" button.
A few weeks after Dean was born, we visited my in-laws in DC. Every time we visit them, one of the top items on my trip agenda is "Visit Costco." I LOVE Costco and we are not members, so I have to get my sample fix while I'm with the in-laws. So, there I am, walking around with tiny baby Dean snoozing in his Baby Bjorn when a woman practically jumps out from behind an enormous box of cat litter screaming, "LOOK AT THE BAYYYYYYBEEEEEEEE!" She then says, "Hold on!" and runs an aisle over to retrieve her shopping cart which contains a huge bundt cake and her three year old twin daughters. "THIS IS WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE WHEN THEY'RE THREE!! RIGHT HERE!" Um, yeah, lady. I've seen children. I smile, answer a few questions about his birthdate and weight and such, then politely walk towards the croissants. A few minutes later, I'm standing in line to grab myself a free buffalo wing when this woman literally materializes out of nowhere and screams, "ARE YOU BREASTFEEDING? Because if you are, spicy stuff is not good for our baby!" OUR baby? Call me crazy, but I'm fairly sure she had NOTHING to do with the creation of Dean Lane. As I stood there, searching my brain for a reply, the man serving the hot wings pipes up with, "Oh, no! My wife ate tons of spicy food while she was breastfeeding! It helps increase your milk supply!" At that moment, and this is not just my imagination about 20 sets of eyes were pointed directly at my, uh, "girls," shall we say, so I did what any self-respecting new mom would do...I grabbed myself a hot wing and hid behind a vat of olive oil.
My encounters with strangers are not usually quite that dramatic or traumatic. In fact, some are quite pleasant. There's a delightful older gentleman in our town whom everyone refers to as The Judge. He is, in fact, a retired judge turned cattle farmer. When we first moved here, we frequented our one coffee shop a lot because you can do that sort of thing with one immobile baby. Now that Dean's his own man? Not so much. Anyway, nearly every time we went in for months, The Judge would come and sit at our table. Sometimes he'd ask to hold Dean. (And we'd let him. He has 14 grandkids and knows what to do.) He'd always tell us, "Now when he's older, you'll come out to the farm and he can ride a pony, ok?" Those were nice encounters. I still run into The Judge in town and he has become more of a friendly acquaintance than a stranger, which is nice. That one had a happy ending.
Over the summer, we went to the new Sno Biz in town. I was very excited to get a shaved ice and enjoy the tacky tropical decor. I worked at a Sno Biz in high school, so I knew the menu and didn't need any time to select my flavor. Dean always gets strawberry, so I walked right up to order. (Marcus stared at the wall for 15 minutes trying to pick a flavor and ended up with blue raspberry and grape mixed together.) The guy at the counter rang me up, then stopped and asked, "What'd you have for dinner because MAN do you guys smell! Is that curry?" We'd had something involving Cajun sausage and onions and, ok, we DID smell, but dude. You don't say that to your customers!
My most recent stranger moment was a doozy. But I did get a pretty good recipe out of it, so there's that. It will be featured in my Friday post over at Food Lush. Tune in and hear, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
Got a freaky stranger story of your own? Tell us!