Husband: You know the best part of living up here? You don’t run into people you know at the store.
Me: You know the worst part? You never run into people you know at the store.
For nearly forty years, we lived in a relatively small town. We both had careers, but I also volunteered with the Girl Scouts, PTA and Food for Thought. I taught school. I attended classes at the community center and the community college, went to Weight Watchers, and wrote for the local newspaper. People know me. A trip to the farmer’s market or the doctor would frequently mean I’d run into someone I know. For better or worse. I’m a social person (ask anyone), but for twenty years I avoided one supermarket because it was in the same neighborhood as the school at which I taught. A quick stop turned into a parent conference or a reunion as I tried to discreetly choose a hemorrhoid remedy. Or something for feminine itch. Or a bottle of gin.
I rarely went farther than my mailbox without my hair done and make-up on. The law of perversity prevailed: The worse I looked, the more likely it was that I would run into someone important. So I always dressed with at least a thought about who I’d run into. My boss? The PTA president ? A school board member?
Now that we live forty miles away in a large city, I have yet to run into an acquaintance at the market. Not one. The people here—except for my family–have no idea who I am. I find it freeing in a way. I can reinvent myself because no one has any expectations. I used to think I did my make-up for me, because I hated seeing that pale, tired-looking face in the mirror. Now, I’m not so sure.
Perhaps it is also the law of diminishing returns. The effort of putting on make-up—and then taking it off—every day doesn’t give me the pay-off I hope to see. Is just being clean and dressed enough now?
In fact, today maybe I’ll just wear a hat, sunglasses and a smile and call it good. Maybe. I’ll see what the old lady in the mirror says.
3 thoughts on “You never know who you’ll run into”
Killing me dead with this. And though it’s a big city, it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing the same people, again and again. Nevada’s not that big. And when do we get to run into each other at the coffee shop again?
I know, but the dozen or so people I know in Reno get diluted by all those I don’t. It took me a few years to feel at home in Carson. Shall we run into each other and ride together to LMW next time?
Ha! You were right! I ran into Lyndi, Jack, and a Carson friend at Savemart on Saturday, within minutes of each other. Weird. Not in my neighborhood, but still…