We were in the requisite masks and staying six feet away from each other. I was behind her, so I could stare without being creepy about it. Even in her bulky sweater it was obvious she was slim — the type of slim where in heavy leggings it was clear that her left thigh never grazed her right one. I was trying to remember if I ever had that longed-for thigh gap.

I watched as she placed her glass pint bottle of the oh-so-rich chocolate milk from the local dairy on the conveyor belt, followed by a package of Pepperidge Farms Sausalito cookies. I had to agree. It was definitely a chocolate day — the day after the election, and we are all still in a pogo stick of emotional reactions. But still, I had to wonder. The chocolate overload versus her thigh gap. What was the story there? Is she just one of those naturally thin people who can eat anything and not gain weight? I was involved with a man in Cincinnati like that. Your first inclination is to hate them, and to say sarcastic things like, “poor you” and wish you had their problem. However, after getting to talk to them, and hearing the painful stories, you get empathetic and want to hug them and take the pain away.

Maybe she has a medical condition? Maybe there is some metabolic issue? Or perhaps bulimia.

Yes, remember this the next time you are in a grocery store line. The people behind you are looking at you and your purchases and making up stories. I’ve known this for a long time, and considering that I now, beginning in 2020 of course, have to use one of the granny motorized shopping carts due to my knees, I’m pretty sure I know the stories being told. Maybe a few are true.

She moved to the payment portion of the counter, following the Plexiglas barrier between her and the cashier. The new normal. I moved my cart forward, which put me in an awkward position for getting things out of the basket portion in front of me and onto the conveyor belt. She turned, saw my situation, and without missing a beat offered to help. She asked. She didn’t just go in and start grabbing stuff to help without asking. She didn’t refuse to make eye contact and turn away like I didn’t exist. How nice! However, I didn’t need assistance and was grumbling to myself that apparently I looked like I did. Stupid knees. I thanked her and said, “No.” She smiled and returned to her process.

She declined a grocery bag, a sure sign her purchase was for immediate consumption.

I have a favorite cartoon that plays in my head, and it did again.

I chuckled to myself at the joke. Then I realized I seriously wanted to talk to this woman. What does she eat? What’s her story? She’s nice, would she talk? What would be really cool is to just have her track and share what she eats in a week. Email would work. That wouldn’t be too weird to ask, would it? Let’s see, how could I start that conversation? “You seem so nice, and…” No, that sounds like a pickup line. How about, “You wanted to help, and while I didn’t need help with the items in the cart…” Hm. Nope.

Even I am not that socially awkward. I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and worse, hadn’t had coffee, and it was past 3 pm. I was probably hallucinating. I like shopping at that store and would hate to be banned for annoying other customers.

Still, it is the next day, and I really wish there would have been some way to talk to her and to find out things. Maybe I’d learn some things. Maybe not. This isn’t weird, is it? Omg. It is.


  1. This is hilarious!! I relate in so many ways. For starters, my best friend in high school was two inches taller than me, ate twice the amount of crap I did, was 20lbs lighter, with a definite thigh-gap. That didn’t bother me as much as when she’d pull the thin film of skin on her stomach, complaining that she was FAT. Ugh. And the grocery store line-up. I always hide the items that might cause others to create stories about me. And while I’m waiting in line, I absolutely make up stories about them!! I actually didn’t recognize I did that until I read this post. Fun perspective, fun post to read. Thanks!

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