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People I Meet

As I walked to my parked car in the center of a small town, I was drawn to a rack of women’s clothes placed on the sidewalk. The appeal was the fifty percent off sign propped above the circular display. As I started perusing through the tops, a buxom lady in her sixties burst out of the store. She smiled at me, picked out a ruffled, powder blue shirt and exclaimed, “This would look good on you, it goes with your skin."

Guessing she meant I was tanned, I smiled and agreed. The lady had a tiny “diamond” in the side of her nose, which caught my eye. From that point on in the conversation, I think I just concentrated on that jewel.

“It’s an extra small,” I sighed.

“Well, you’re small,” she countered. “And it’s stretchy, see?” She started pulling the material up, down, and sideways and it did stretch. “Now me!” She eyed her ample breasts. “My boobs are too big and they’re growing. My mama asked me just a few months before she died, ‘Did you get a tittie job?’ She always said tittie. She would say it in front of a mess of people. That was her word.”

She continued, “My mama was fine until her last few months. Then she had night fears so I had to stay with her. One night she saw a black man sitting at the bottom of her bed.”

“Oh!” I acknowledge.

“Yeah, but she said he was nice, so Mama didn’t mind. But another night, he was sitting on the bed with a lady and mama didn’t like that.”

I attempt an understanding look as I gaze at the “diamond.”

“One time she saw her brother. Well, it wasn’t really her brother, cuz her aunt had him, but Grandma raised him, so Mama called him her brother.”

I raised the top as a way to change the conversation. “I wonder if this would wash up OK?” I asked as I fingered the ruffles.

“You know you can buy cold wash soap in the dollar store that is just as good as Woolite? It even smells the same. That top will wash up real good with that.” The “diamond” bobbed up and down as she nodded her certainty.

As I began to answer, she proceeded with her family narrative. “One of my brothers, Jimmy, got the (I have no idea what she said and I wasn’t asking) and lost his mind for 6 months. But then he got it back and we thought he was alright. He died three month later.” The “diamond” goes back and forth with the slight shake of her head.

I grabbed the top and said quickly, “You’re right, I need to try this on. Thanks.”

As I ducked into the store, she yelled, “It sure will look good with your skin.”

This story was written by Sue Goldstein. She's only been published in research, but likes to write about life.
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