All the weird things in the world happen to me.
Like the time I spent two hours talking to a famous person having no idea who he was until he left his card.
Or the time I got on a train and had to moderate a dispute between a blind man and a deaf man.
Or the time I won a radio contest that one of my friends entered me in and I was forced to go on a limousine ride for two ridiculous hours around the city I've driven around in my entire life.
I can guarantee you that:
1. Any grocery cart I choose will have at least one bockety wheel.
2. The line I get in to pay will experience a technical difficulty of some sort, resulting in what was once the shortest line now being the longest line.
3. Any plane I am within two gates of will be delayed.
4. Anything I choose to wear will malfunction or develop a stain within an hour.
5. Any mentally ill person -- the more raving the better -- in a mall, a museum, or the internet, will find me. And want to talk to me for a really long time.
If you've spent any time with me in person, these facts are well documented. I have multiple independent sources that will say without qualm, "Oh yes, crazy people love Sharon." Give me ten minutes alone in a restaurant while you sit in a nearby booth and watch what happens.
Do you think a foil hat would help?
I recently visited -- and loved -- Syracuse, NY, where I was teaching at a knitting retreat.
On the plane there, I was pleased that the seat next to me was empty. After the delay, which I'm sure I caused, I was anxious to just get on the plane and go.
However, we did not take off after everyone was seated. We waited. And waited. A gate agent boarded the plane, looking for empty seats and writing down their locations. Of course, that meant someone on standby needed the empty seat next to me.
Soon, an elderly woman was assisted down the aisle, tiny and frail, with a purple perm that was flattened on one side and poufy on the other. A large male gate agent was carrying her bag and her portable oxygen tank.
The flight attendant followed them down the aisle and helped her locate the seat, motioning for me to move out of my seat so they could help this person get situated.
As soon as she was shown where she would be sitting, this woman said loudly, "GOSH DARN IT."
Except, she didn't say gosh darn it. This being the kind of site my children can read, I'll refrain from actually repeating what she said. But it was exactly what gosh darn it is a euphemism for. And it was said emphatically.
"SHOOT." (Insert what shoot is usually a substitute for here, and just imagine that throughout the rest of the exchange.)
"WELL, GOSH DARN IT. SON OF A BISCUIT." (Ahem.)
"SHOOT, GOSH DARN IT."
Now, this was a small regional jet.
The kind that I -- and this large gate agent -- have to stoop to stand up in. We stood there in the aisle that is -- at best -- six inches wide, blocked by this tiny woman who obviously found her seat next to me quite unacceptable.
The flight attendant, who was courteous the entire time, said, "Ma'am, your oxygen tank needs to fit all the way under the seat in front of you. The plane can't leave until we get it under there." The flight attendant struggled to fit it.
"SHOOT. GOSH DARN IT, SON OF A BISCUIT." The woman said more loudly.
Of course, now the entire plane can hear her. But they can't see her, she's a tiny woman in row 10. Who can they see? Me, of course. Giant bellied me, standing in the aisle. So the entire plane is now staring at me like I've just arrived to class in my underwear.
"It's a good thing these planes are so spacious," I joked to the man stooped over next to me. "I would feel terrible for anyone having to stand in the aisle for any length of time."
"Oh, me too," he replied. "You're fortunate to have been given such ample space on a huge plane like this one."
The woman got louder when the flight attendant tried to put her white windbreaker into the overhead bin.
"I NEED MY COAT, GOSH DARN IT. THERE'S AN APPLE IN THERE THAT A WOMAN GAVE TO ME BACK AT GATE C17 AND I HAVEN'T HAD AN APPLE IN A LONG TIME. THEY'RE NOT IN SEASON IN MONTANA. I NEED THAT APPLE."
The flight attendant said, "Ma'am, I've already closed the overhead bin, and the flight needs to depart the gate. You can retrieve it after take off."
"I REALLY NEED THAT APPLE, SON OF A BISCUIT. THE WOMAN AT C17 GAVE IT TO ME AND I NEED A BITE OF THAT APPLE."
The flight attendant walked away, and at this point, I'm quite sure this woman has some dementia issues.
Except her first words to me when the attendant was out of earshot were, "I probably shouldn't talk that way to her. But I really want that apple. And they don't give you any space on planes anymore."
I decided I was going to be as nice to her as I could be without making a martyr of myself. She is someone's mother. She wasn't going to become nicer or quieter if I was mean to her.
The plane was finally hurtling down the runway, ready to do the impossible, which is propel itself into the air and remain aloft until it arrived at a precisely calculated destination halfway across the country.
As soon as the nose left the ground she said to me, "GOSH DARN IT, WOULD YOU MOVE OVER?"
I took a second to clench my jaw and said as nicely as I could, "Well, I don't really have anywhere to move over to. I am sitting all the way against my own arm rest."
"NO, YOU ARE IN MY SEAT. LOOK AT YOU. YOU'RE TAKING UP SOME OF MY SEAT."
I've never pretended to be a small person. But I don't weigh 500 pounds here. My airplane fitting abilities are more of the wow, my legs are four feet long and the space in front of me is not variety.
I decided to play the I'm-having-a-baby-back-up-off-me card. "Well, I'm moved over as far as I can be. If I could move over more, I would. And I am having a baby in a few months."
"SHOOT. ARE YOU HAVING A BOY OR A GIRL?"
"A little girl," I replied, hoping to steer the conversation onto something other than the size of my backside, which was clearly crowding this woman out onto the wing of the plane.
"WELL YOU SHOULD HAVE HAD A BOY."
There's really nothing one can say to that, given this particular scenario. Was I going to argue about how I contribute the X chromosome either way, and that the gender of the baby is determined by the father? Was I going to say, "Try and make me?"
The only possible answer was, "Would you like me to get that apple for you now?"
Except it was the wrong answer.
That just seemed to set her off more.
"GOSH DARN IT, WHAT I REALLY NEED IS A BITE OF THAT APPLE THAT THE WOMAN AT C17 GAVE ME. I LIVE WAY OUT IN THE COUNTRY IN MONTANA AND WE CAN'T GET APPLES THIS TIME OF YEAR. SHOOT."
My internal dialogue coach wanted me to say, "Really? No apples in Montana? REALLY? I'm pretty sure you can get apples in Montana in March. There are apples year round just about everywhere."
But I didn't. I clenched my jaw. Which is slightly less painful than biting one's tongue. But it can lead to bruxism, so watch it.
I got out of my seat to find this woman's apple. A man in the row behind us gave me a thumbs up.
Thumbs up for what? Thumbs up for putting up with the sailor-mouthed woman? Thumbs up for finding her apple? Thumbs up for being a giant pregnant woman on a too small plane?
She was happy to see her apple, and dug her blue sparkly acrylic fingernails into it. They looked like this, but more chippy.
She took one tiny bite and then stored it in the seat pocket for the entire rest of the flight.
I read a book on my iPad.
"SHOOT, CAN YOU MAKE PHONE CALLS WITH THAT THING?"
I looked at a magazine.
"GOSH DARN IT, MAGAZINES ARE NOTHING BUT SMUTTY ADS THESE DAYS, SON OF A BISCUIT."
The irony. It killed me.
I was reading Better Homes and Gardens. The ads are for things like cholesterol medication and carpeting. The mouth on the woman next to me, however? Smutty.
Over the course of the flight, the woman said GOSH DARN IT 29 more times. She said SHOOT 38 more times, SON OF A BISCUIT 12 more times, and WOULD YOU MOVE OVER eight more times.
At the end, I finally just said, "Sure." when she asked me to move over, and I pretended to scoot closer to the thing that was already digging into my side.
When I got off the plane, the flight attendant apologized to me.
I wish she would have just given me a cookie or a pat on the head or something, that would have helped a lot more.
I think I racked up some karmic brownie points, because on the way home, the seat next to me was empty and the plane was on time.
And guess what? It's now Thursday evening. I left Syracuse on Sunday. Not one person -- not one -- has emailed me to comment on my clothes, my hair, or my makeup during the knitting retreat. I have, however, gotten a number of nice people who thanked me for coming and said they hoped I would come back.
Maybe some of the weird things that were destined to happen to me happened to someone else instead. It's only fair, I think.
How about you? Do strange people come up to you in grocery stores wanting to discuss things like cat litter with you too? Do you ever come into the dining room to find your 95 pound dog standing in the middle of the empty table? Do strangers tell you look matronly when you wear your hair up? No? I'm the only lucky one?
Oh my. Case in point. I just had to remove the equivalent of a 17 page Word document diatribe in the comment section that included things about how Jesus was used to create the Matrix, and how masculinized women are the only hope for the world, and how Hawaiians, who were the real first Americans, ruined their people by eating too much pork and ignoring fish.
And other more disturbing stuff too. But it's a lovely illustration of how the crazies can find me, even on the vast world wide web.