Wait, What Did You Just Say?

Have you ever had a conversation with a stranger where the discussion went somewhere totally unexpected, and you found yourself utterly unprepared as to how to respond? I’ve have loads of those conversations, partially because I don’t think quickly on my feet and partially because people are just so darn interesting! I never know quite what to expect. Anyway, this little jotting is an unusual chat I found myself involved in one morning.

I do hope nobody finds this to be offensive. Apologies in advance if anyone feels this is inappropriate!

An Unexpected Conversation

“Oh, what a wonderful idea!”

I opened my eyes. The voice belonged to a well-groomed woman, perhaps in her 60s with a smooth gray Dorothy Hamill bob and dark round sunglasses. A padded maroon and green coat wrapped around her slight frame and a tiny black dog with curly Cocker Spaniel ears bounded ahead of her. The pooch pranced up to me, sniffed my left arm and before I could even raise a hand to pet her, she looped behind the thick white pillar I rested against, and sniffed at my other arm. This time my outstretched palm grazed her head ever so slightly before the ball of energy moved on to more interesting subjects.

I turned my attention back to the old woman with a smile. “ I know. Isn’t this weather wonderful? I can’t believe it’s only early March.” The topic of conversation was sunbathing, of sorts. Leaning against a pillar in the park, I found the warm winter sun was perfect for soaking up and I was certainly taking advantage of the opportunity.

“I come here every Sunday after we have breakfast with our homeless man. We take him a big brunch and we eat together.”

“That’s nice of you,” I murmured, caught slightly off guard.

“That’s a great bike.” The conversation swerved abruptly.

Feeling slightly more confident about maneuvering this topic, I answered with a laugh. “Thanks! It’s actually my husband’s bike, but I stole it for the morning.”

“Those bikes can be good for girls, too. Did your foot ever slip off the pedal and you hit that bar?”

“Ummm. Yeah…I’m sure it did at some point…” my voice trailed off as hers charged onward.

“Mine did. I remember one time it slipped and I bruised my whole vulva area. It was so painful to walk. I went to my mother and told her ‘this hurts’.”

Now, I don’t consider myself to be overly sensitive to private anatomical terminology, given my years in science and in the medical industry, but I must admit, I’ve been friends with many people for many years without ever hearing them utter the word ‘vulva.’ The best I could do was choke out, “I don’t think I’ve ever hit the bar that hard before.”

“Well, that’s a nice bike,” she said, adding a cheery, “Enjoy your day!”

Even as my answering “You, too” lingered on my lips, she hurried away, her visit ending as abruptly as had her dog’s.

(Originally posted on my old blog, Interim Arts, on June 5, 2013)

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