Who Was That Woman?

I’m not sure who the woman was.

She looked a little like me.  Except that I would never wear sweatpants to the grocery store.  Okay, I would.  But only if they were clean.  This woman didn’t have such a rule.  This woman was wearing the same sweatpants she’d slept in, an a T-shirt her baby had barfed on.  More than once, it seemed.

The woman’s baby, on the other hand, looked adorable.  Clean.  No trace of snot or spit-up or barf or poop.  Giggling in a mint green onesie with the word laugh scribbled across the front.  White pants.

Despite her slovenly appearance, the woman with the cute baby was smiling.  Mostly at her baby, but at the world, too.

As she was swiping her credit card in the checkout line, the girl bagging this woman’s groceries peered down at the baby in the woman’s cart and smiled.  The baby smiled back. 

“What a happy baby!” The girl bagging groceries said.  “And what cute white pants!

The woman smiled at her baby.  “We’ve already had one explosive poop today,” she told the girl, “so we’re hoping the white pants are safe.” 

“Oh,” said the girl bagging groceries, with a polite, I-have-no-idea-how-to-respond-to-that nod. 

And then the woman with the baby realized something:  she had just, with a single sentence, turned a fashion compliment into a conversation about poop.

Who was that woman?  I’ll never know, because in that moment, on a Saturday afternoon at Albertsons, she disappeared.

The woman who walked out of that grocery store two minutes later was just as disheveled, her sweatpants just as dirty, and her baby just as cute.  But unlike the woman she’d been seconds before, this woman will not talk about poop with strangers.

I have to draw the line somewhere.


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