I have mentioned in the past that Mom has this magical ability to get strangers to tell her their life stories. I don't think I've explained yet that this ability apparently runs in the family. I look (and sound) enough like my mom to have the same kind of friendly, familiar, approachable, pretty-but-not-intimidating face and manner, and many's the time I've been sitting in a public place, minding my own business, when A WILD STRANGER APPEARS! and tells me all sorts of stuff. Since I fancy myself a writer, this ability is a godsend for gathering stories.
|"Your thoughts to my thoughts..."|
For example: I was waiting in the local pharmacy to pick up a prescription for a family member (I swear, I spend about half my waking life in drugstores) when this guy came in and sat down next to me. He cut quite the figure: big, muscular, bald, with a black eye, a padded brace on his right arm and a couple of notable stitch clusters on his right knee. He was wearing shorts and a grey muscle shirt printed with the words "OBAMA CAN'T TAKE THESE GUNS" and two large arrows pointing to his biceps. Mr. Guns listened to the piped-in music ("All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor) for a few seconds, then turned to me and said, "Pfft. She ain't all about that bass."
"That right?" I asked noncommittally.
That was all that was necessary for Mr. Guns to launch into his tale. He told me about how he'd just had a knee replacement, about how he'd put it off for years because he was a bodybuilder and his doctor had warned him that after a knee replacement he wouldn't be able to lift more than 200 pounds, but finally it got to be a necessity and he was incredibly pleased with the results. Except... the first few days he was recuperating from surgery at home, he was all hopped up on Percocet for the pain and thought he was a superhero. The phone rang downstairs, and instead of letting his wife pick it up he decided he'd just run downstairs and get it. Well, he did get downstairs... the hard way. Which is how he picked up the arm brace and the black eye. (Remember, folks, despite how it makes you feel, Percocet does NOT give you magical powers of flight.)
I think Mr. Guns was all geared up to share another story, but just then the pharmacist called my name and I had to break things off gracefully to pick up the prescription. He gave me a cheery "Take care!" in parting, and I thought but did not say, "You too. Really. And lay off the Percocet."
Heh. Maybe I really should have gone into journalism. I wouldn't even have to ask nosy questions -- I'd just show up, smile, and let people tell me EVERYTHING.