I realize, of course, that with this being my first ‘official’ blog, I should be writing a Welcome Message, extolling everyone to come and play, read my random thoughts and ideas, and generally starting the ball rolling, but……….
I woke up this morning with a fat lip.
Nasty, horrific cold sores, oh how I despise you!!! There’s nothing in the world like having some gratuitous, undeserved, unearned, and truly foul virus that sporadically comes back to haunt and taunt you when you’re pretty much ALREADY feeling like crap-on-a-stick…..
Pre-period week? WHAM!…….. “Oh, hey there my host, did you forget about me?”
Cold/flu/stomach virus? BA BAM!……. “Hi, my host! Just dropping by to leave you a little reminder that I’m here, and I won’t ever leave you!”
To make matters worse, I somehow either ended up with a strange variation of the herpes simplex 1 virus, or my body/ immune system ‘reads’ it in a different way………..yes, I eventually end up with the yucky, crusty, easily identified mouth lesions. But before that happens, whichever lip is so lucky as to rate the newest visitor SWELLS UP, like I’ve been popped a good one in the mouth by a hasty fist whose owner didn’t take well to my sarcasm.
Which reminds me of a story………….
Several years ago, I woke up with a fat lip. It was my lower lip……….and since I’m one of those lucky individuals that seem to have no UPPER lip, to speak of, it looked……..atrocious. You know that feeling you have when you’ve been to the dentist, and your lower lip is still numb, and feels like it’s protuding at least an inch from your face in a grotsque parody of a Neanderthal? That’s what my lower lip looked like. Lovely.
At the time, I had four children living at home, and it soon became apparent that I’d put off going to the grocery store for way too long. Yes, kids, I was going to have to venture out to Walmart…..
Since you can’t really go into a Walmart with your lower face wrapped in a scarf, a la terrorist chic, I tried to at least make myself more presentable than a usual Walmart run warrants. Ergo, I did not set out in pajama pants and sweatshirt, but instead put on ‘real’ clothes, fixed my hair, and made an attempt at naturalizing makeup. This was a relatively small town, and I was pretty much guaranteed to run into people I knew, at which point I would then have to make inane, herpes-deprecating comments to get the hell away on my business, and get the hell out of Dodge, as quickly as possible. This, I knew and expected……….
After several obligatory exchanges with acquaintances, during which I almost WISHED I’d come swathed in a scarf, Taliban references or no, I finally came to the last stop I had to make……the bread aisle. As I hunted up the standard bread items I needed, I noticed a woman…….a stranger to me…..that seemed to be watching me. All herpes-activated paranoia aside, I kept catching her staring at me, and lingering on the aisle, when she clearly was no longer looking for bread-related products. One of the times that I glanced her way, and caught her looking at me, I gave her that automatic, polite, yes-we’re-both-in-Walmart-hell smile that you give……….which seemed to give her the opening she’d been waiting for.
While I was reaching for the five-grain wheat bread, I realized that the woman was right beside me. In my area….you know, that special little bubble of space that only friends, family, and grubby children are supposed to enter. ACK!
As I tried NOT to look like I expected a knife to the ribs, she leaned even closer to me, and said, sotto voce, “Get out NOW, while you still can!” She didn’t step away.
I stared at this stranger with what I know looked like abject terror on my face………she had looked away, as if checking for anyone that had been eavesdropping, and then she turned back to me. With an expression of pity and ‘understanding’ glued to her features.
I’m usually pretty quick, but that one got me…………..it took me a couple of seconds, but I finally GOT IT. She had noticed my fat lip, and probably my hunching, hurrying posture (which, in reality, was get-me-the-fuck-outta-this-store-as-quickly-as-possible body language, but which she had read as abused-woman-hurrying-from-embarrassment body language)………..
She had stepped out of the traditional stranger-politeness role, to try to help me.
So I did the only thing I could do, at that moment………I glanced down, smiled a small, tremulous smile, and said, “I am getting out. Thank you.”
She patted me on the back, and walked away.
I bought my eggs, milk, Pop Tarts, and bread………..and got the hell out of Walmart.
Some of you might think, as I did that day while driving home, that it wasn’t the right thing to do. After all……small town. But the conclusion I eventually came to regarding the whole deal was this; a perfect stranger saw someone she thought was being hurt……she tussled with herself, debating whether to intercede, or not……..evidently, she came to the decision that it was wrong not to at least try……..by my going through a long, drawn-out explanation of my herpes lip, she would have been embarrassed, and would have felt the need to apologize………
Did I do the right thing? I have no idea.
One thing I can tell you, though, is that Fat Lip days suck large.