The check-out queues at Wal-Mart are long, so my fellow shoppers and I are stacking up out in the main aisle. A woman in front of me, holding a couple of items I assume she is in line to purchase, is standing a few feet behind the next person in line. All I see is a long, thick braid hanging down her back. She’s reading the magazine covers, a task easily accomplished in less than a minute. Those of us behind her have to keep stepping aside so shoppers can get past us, a fact the magazine-reader appears to be oblivious to. Finally, the line moves ahead and she takes a magazine from the rack. And stands there, re-reading the magazine covers, with an even bigger gap between her and the next person in line. I’m a regular Wal-Mart shopper (DOT 4 brake fluid and all the tubes of Vaseline Lip Therapy they had on the rack this time), so I know that it’s a not uncommon stop for quick-tempered shoppers (because they’ve been screaming at their kids all day). I tread lightly.
Excuse me? Are you in line?
She turns around. That braid does not fit with her face.
Why? Are you in a hurry? Go ahead.
I tell her no, that’s okay, I was just wondering if she was in line so those of us behind her would know if we should step around. She moves up. A little. A bit later, she turns around to face me,
The banana boat has arrived!
Hmm. Maybe there’s a Banana Boat sunscreen display close by that I missed? And she’s excited because she’s been anxiously awaiting the new shipment of SPF 15? I scan the area. Nope, no Banana Boat bottles or tubes of any kind. About a minute later, she turns around again,
If it doesn’t rot in the bay.
I doubt there’s a boat full of bananas in the bay, rotting or not. While there are a number of rotting boats in our bays, this is not banana country. More than a minute later, she turns around again,
It will be good for the kids at Christmas.
Although I try, I cannot arrange these disparate statements into a coherent conversation. My brain is too fried at the moment to engage in crazy, so the rack full of souvenir shot glasses, key chains, and lighters becomes fascinating enough to me to require close study.
She doesn’t answer the checker when she says hello and asks how her day is going. Doesn’t say a word as the checker, finally, rings up her few purchases. When the checker is done bagging, when Banana Boat Lady should be on her way out the door, she doesn’t move, but says,
My pastor is giving a sermon on the bad boys of the Bible. You should come.
The checker’s mistake was in saying that she has to work on Sunday. Banana Boat Lady didn’t mention the day. Turns out that sermon is readily available any day you are.