Ol’ Stink-Eye

Summer 2016

           First off, I realize this story doesn’t reflect particularly well on me, although in my own defense, it was really low-level bad behavior that should have only minor karmic consequences, like a few more days in Purgatory. (By the way, I swear I’m not making this up.)

            It happened during my visit to the grocery store on Tuesday, early in the afternoon, which happened to coincide with the arrival of a big pack of seniors who came on the bus from the nearby assisted living complex. I don’t have anything against seniors, but they clog up the aisles and checkout lines and decimate the yogurt selection. I wasn’t bummed out, but I also didn’t feel lucky to be shopping for groceries on senior day.

            I’d gotten almost everything on my grocery list when I reached the bread aisle. The only other customer there was a senior lady down at the far end, facing toward me. She was tall, with gray helmet hair and a pissed-off expression on her face. When I turned into the aisle, she gave me the nastiest, most seething stink-eye glare ever and held it on me for at least 6 full seconds before I looked away. WTH?

            That was really weird, I thought, and turned my attention to the bread. I threw a loaf of whole wheat into my cart. Then, you know how sometimes you can feel someone staring at you? I looked up and started forward and saw Ol’ Stink-Eye was now parked about 20 feet from me. The second our eyes met, her expression went from her natural “resting bitch face” to a hideous, disdainful, contemptuous sneer that wordlessly telegraphed, “My hate-fire burns deep for you, vile maggot, and I wish I could shank you in the heart and watch the life bleed out of you.” Stink-Eye’s lip curled and I could see a little bit of her teeth. Her extreme hostility was palpable and very disconcerting. I valiantly smiled at her, in an attempt to defuse whatever it was that was happening, but my pleasant-and-cheerful vibes shriveled in the face of her blistering negative energy.

            What was her problem? I’m a peaceable sort. I felt disturbed and kind of violated. I broke our eye-lock and stopped to peruse the hot dog and hamburger buns. I threw some in my cart and pushed on, with my eyes aimed straight ahead, not at her. I just wanted to get past the malevolent eye of Sauron and her cart ASAP. I wanted out of that wretched aisle before she could scorch the joy and light out of my human spirit.

            Stink-Eye was stopped at the English muffins as I passed by her cart. I kept plenty of room between us, since she could’ve been packing. Although I really didn’t intend to, I couldn’t help glancing at her as I passed. In that moment, her face squinched up into a gruesome, beastly sneer and — get this – with eyes still shooting daggers at me, she reached for her brown naugahyde purse, which was open at the back of her cart, snapped the top shut and clutched it with both hands against the cart handle, as if I was going to try to snatch her purse!

            That was enough – I’d had it. She was completely off the rails. I beelined for the end of the aisle. What did I do to deserve this? Nothing! I just happened to be shopping at the same time as the Queen Grandmother of Darkness. At the very end of the aisle, I had to slow down just long enough to pay silent homage to the Tastykakes display and unwrap some cupcakes with my eyes. Then, as I started the U-turn into the next aisle, I did it again. Some primal instinct made me take a quick sideways peek at her. There she was. Her cart was facing away from me, but her neck was twisted almost 180 degrees around (like in The Exorcist) and she was glowering over her shoulder at me, with eyes narrowed and an evil grimace on her face. Unbelieveable!

            I rounded the bend and made it to frozen foods, the last aisle, and felt very relieved. I needed to get waffles, and it took a minute or two to find the whole-grain, high-fiber, least toxic kind. With my Eggos selected, I crossed them off my list, and was about to turn back toward the front of the store to check out when BAM! THERE SHE WAS, just a couple feet in front of me. I hadn’t felt the disturbance in the Force, and from her surprised expression I knew she hadn’t sensed I was there either. She went pale. Her mouth turned downward unpleasantly into an intense, angry pucker-frown, and the rest of her face contorted hatefully as her eyes shot red hot laser beams at me.

            That was the last straw. She’d made me mad, Irish-DNA fighting mad. My thoughts began racing so fast that I couldn’t consciously keep up. This was NOT NICE. I’d had enough of Ol’ Stink-Eye’s abuse. She didn’t own the grocery store — I had every right to shop at the same time as her. It was time to take a stand. If the crazy old bat thinks I’m menacing, then I’ll give her menacing. Silently, I returned her stare and smiled a creepy smile. And in an instant, the idea burst from somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, and I felt myself do the “I am watching you” gesture at her – making a “V” with my index and middle fingers, pointing them at my own eyes, and then pointing them at her eyes.

            Her jaw dropped, and she puffed up her chest in prissy, righteous indignation. She spun her cart the other way in a screeching U-turn, and hauled ass away from me. The whole showdown happened in the space of a couple seconds.

            OMG, I won! She was gone! My brain ratcheted back to normal. It turned out Ol’ Stink-Eye wasn’t so tough, turning tail like that and running away as fast as her orthopedic shoes could carry her. I felt good. The dark clouds had parted and I felt the sun’s warmth. Light had triumphed over darkness. Victory was sweet! It was well worth an extra few hours in Purgatory.

©NLWalsh, All rights reserved.

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