Monday, February 19, 2007

"You're the next lime..."

Stefanie's post of "running into someone she knows at Target while not looking her best" sent me wandering down memory lane. The particular memory that had me giggling involved Walmart, not Target, and if you're wondering why Walmart instead of Target, it's because the small town I grew up in did not (and does not still) have a Target. We did have one of the very first Walmarts outside of Arkansas, store #10, and at that time Sam Walton, who by all accounts was a pretty good guy, was still running the show, as opposed to his children, who are in charge now, and who by all accounts are evil. The coming of Walmart was actually very exciting back then. But I digress.

I spent a few college summers doing outdoor theatre. It paid just enough to get by, and once we moved from rehearsals into performance, left our days (and our late nights) pretty much free for "recreation." Said recreation during the day generally involved laying in the sun (since I had yet to develop my fear of skin cancer) near a body of water, and indulging in whatever "substances" we desired and/or could afford. Those were great, lazy summers. I can't remember a more carefree time as an "adult." I met some great people, and indeed, met my BFF there, way back in '84. He figures prominently in this story.

Backstory: BFF is allergic to cats. He can be around them, and can live with them if he takes his asthma medicine like a good boy, but if he touches one, and then touches his eye--well, let's just say his cornea...wrinkles. And reddens. And puffs up. It's every bit as attractive as you're thinking. Earlier that summer, said crinkly cornea had required a trip to the ER for eye drops and a patch.

Well, this one lovely day, we had been at the lake, tanning and partaking lightly of substances. (In my defense, I was young and relatively free of responsibilities. I never missed a night of work, never drove if I was stinking drunk, and I certainly had no children who were being neglected. I did not shave my head, or borrow undergarments from strippers. Not that I'm confessing to anything illicit here. Not at all. Just wanted to get that all on the table, you know, theoretically.) At some point in the day we must have stopped at my house, BFF must have touched a cat and then his eye, because there was suddenly CORNEA WRINKLING. He still had drops from the previous ER visit, but couldn't find the patch.

"You have to go to Walmart and buy me an eyepatch."

"I CAN'T. I have been, theoretically, lightly partaking of some possibly illicit substances, not that I'm confessing to anything."

"You HAVE to. My eye is crinkling."

"All right."

Off I went. Wearing a bathing suit under shorts and a t-shirt, looking like utter hell. I found the eyepatches quickly enough. They were priced under a dollar. I looked in my purse--no cash, forcing to write a check or use my father's credit card, which he was nice (foolish?) enough to give me for emergencies and gas. I had a lot of "emergencies" that summer, mostly involving buying sandwiches from the 24-hour convenience store in the middle of the night. ("What are all these $2 charges to my credit card?" "Umm....sandwiches?") Well, I didn't want to write a check for under a dollar, so I decided to pick up a few other supplies. I wandered the store for a while, and added cheese curls and cookies to my eye patch. (What? You think I had the munchies or something? Well, maybe. Theoretically.) I headed to the front of the store and ran smack dab into the cute guy I had a crush on in high school. Of course. We chatted briefly, me wondering the whole time if he could tell that I was theoretically a bit...fuzzy, and then I moved on to the checkout lane being manned by a friendly-looking older woman. Lucille.

The woman in front of me in line was buying several little toddler outfits. They all looked exactly the same, but one of them didn't have a price tag. "I'll have to call for a price check," said Lucille. Oh great, she's such a stellar employee she won't dare ring in a price without an official tag. (This was before scanning technology. That's how old I am. Hee.) She called for the price check, and we waited. Soon I heard a voice on the loudspeaker: "Lucille, pick up on the red line." Lucille didn't respond. The woman in front of me didn't respond. "Lucille, pick up for your price check." No response. "LuCILLE, pick UP on the red line." No response. I was beginning to wonder if, in my theoretically slightly altered state, I was hearing things. "LUCILLE, the price is $3.95." NOTHING. I began to doubt my sanity. Suddenly Lucille turned to the checker in the next lane and said indignantly, "they never got back to me with that price check." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Just at that moment I heard some lovely words: "You're the next in line on register seven." Thank GOD. I ran to register seven, and threw my items down. The cashier was giggling. "I actually said you're the next LIME on register seven." And then she chortled madly. "The next LIME. It gets 'em every time." More mad chortling. At that point I wanted nothing in the world so badly as to get the hell out of that store and throw down some cheese curls. I fixed a grin on my face, and mentally willed her to start checking. She did, asking friendly questions the whole while. It took me a moment to register that she seemed to be a lesbian, and the questions were bordering on flirtatious. Now, normally, that wouldn't freak me out at all, but this wasn't a normal day, and I didn't want flirting from anyone, not even the cute guy from high school. I JUST WANTED OUT OF THERE! Finally she finished ringing me up, I wrote a check and got the hell out. I threw the eye patch at BFF, and screamed something to the effect of "Do not EVER ask me to go to Walmart while I am theoretically under the influence of anything! I don't care if your eyeball FALLS OUT!"

I relayed the whole sad tale, and then we started amusing ourselves imagining that the voice I heard really WAS God, who had taken to communicating over the red line. "Lucille...pick up on the red line to SAVE YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL." Hee.

Twenty-plus years later, BFF and I occasionally say to each other: "You're the next LIME on register seven." And then we chortle. Madly.


don't call me MA'AM said...

I have never understood why checkers at stores such as that feel the need to be witty, conversational, or anything other than friendly and QUIET. Did you smack the lime lady upside the head??? Maybe not, if you were theoretically fuzzy, though, right?

gorillabuns said...

super target was the meeting place for an ex boyfriend for me as well. while his daughter could count to 10 in like, 50 languages, my daughter just drooled and screamed princesses during the whole conversation. oh yeah, i tried to hide my fat ass behind my cart so he couldn't see how much i've ballooned from shooting out the kidlets. he, by the way, used to tell me i was quite fat and i believed him when we dated back in college. by the way, i'm 5' 7" and weighed 120lbs at the time. come to think of it, damn, i used to be hot!

Anonymous said...

Ahh yes, mad chortling moments are the substance of limes ...


Noelle said...

I'm so glad that I grew up in a Wal-mart free county. We went to Drug Fair instead. Most of the check-out people there were in a constant state of zoned-out, I think chortling was physically impossible for them while they were on the clock.

stefanie said...

I don't think I'd even know where to look in Wal-Mart (or Target) for an eye patch (outside of the costume aisle at Halloween, I mean). I think the task would be even more baffling to me had I been theoretically under the influence of some possibly illegal substance.

guinness girl said...

Hee! Super-cute story! I am baffled about why the cashier thought "The next lime" was so funny in the first place! Perhaps she was theoretically under the influence as well?

lizgwiz said...

dcmm, I did not smack her, or Lucille, much as I would have liked to. When you're theoretically fuzzy, you don't want to call that much attention to yourself. Hee.

gorillabuns, your ex sounds like a dick! And his kid like a freak. And I'm sure you're still hot!

jef, indeed. Chortle.

noelle, given a choice, I think I would prefer my checker to be slightly zoned-out than slightly too chipper. Chipper annoys me. ;)

stef, for some reason I didn't have any problem with that part of the task. Finding suitable munchies to round out my bill--that was hard. (The patches were in the pharmacy section, if I recall. Near the eye drops, etc.)

lizgwiz said...

gg, you slipped in there on me. I think she was just one of those chronically perky people. And obviously easily amused.

Sparkling Cipher said...

Always when you just want to get out of there. I've gotten a girl who stopped scanning to explain why she loved Monopoly - no, I didn't ask, she volunteered. One girl asks for my ZIP code, and EVERY TIME says, "Where's that?" It's less than 15 miles away. I'm tempted to go through her line with a map.

lizgwiz said...

sparkling, it never fails. WHY are they so chatty? Is the job that boring? Well, maybe it is, come to think of it.

Stinkypaw said...

It's always when you want to get out of there fast that either they make a deposit, change their roll (tape), price checks are killers! with or without the fuzz! ;-)