After I read this a few days later, I thought it may seem like these two events have nothing to do with each other, but allow me to connect the thread. I just thought the contrast of the two events was interesting. It didn't take much for me to go from feeling benevolent to self conscious. Maybe someday charity will win out over vanity!
It happened again. It happens so often I should be used to it, but I still don’t like it much.
I stood in the 15 items or less line at Railey’s Market waiting to be checked out (no, not the “hey, baby” kind, but the “do you have a club card?” kind). An adorable little old man came up behind me and began flirting with the kids.
“Blue eyes?” He asked Tessa, who hid her head. He checked each child and then me. “Yep, all blue.” Says I. He worked dilligently at trying to get Tessa to smile at him, so to distract him before Tessa began to cry, I said, “Doing a little pre-holiday shopping?”
“Oh, no,” he said, “No money for that. I’m broke. Just back from Arizona from seeing my older sister in a nursing home. She’s 89 years old, two years older than me.”
As we chatted, I began to take in his general appearance. His shirt was so worn that the lining peeked out of the collar fabric. Buttons were missing and the cuffs of his sleeves were frayed. Having noticed a faint accent, I spoke to him in Spanish, and he was tickled. Now we were old friends.
The line had melted away ahead of me, and now it was my turn. I put my 8 items up on the belt, and then he put his one item up; a little white deli bag. He noticed me examine it and smiled, “My chicken dinner.”
Price tag: $0.79. He held a handful of loose change.
While Abuleo, as I had now called him ( that’s “grandpa” to you gringos) coaxed a smile from Tessa, I signaled to the cashier that I would pay for his dinner. I felt silly that I was to pay less than a dollar for his meal, but I managed to hand him $5 to make myself feel better about the meager help I had given.
He was warmed by it all. Lovey, even. And I felt lovey, too. I had those waves of “I am doing a good thing! Check it out! Charity in action! Random act of kindness, here!”. I got that little do-gooder’s high.
He felt the need to offer something back.
Pointing to my belly, he said in Spanish, “The one that is coming will have green eyes.”
This happens to me about 8 times every year. I have the grave misfortune of owning a pseudo-belly. I look pregnant, though I am not. Kind of a cruel joke of nature if you ask me, given my history. I can only imagine how many hundreds of people have thought it, given the dozens over the years that have dared say it aloud.
“Ah, no, Abuleo,” I return, “No hay bebe. Tengo una pansa, nanda mas.” There’s no baby. It’s just my big’o belly.
He flushed red and bowed his head, “Aye, perdon.” He almost whispered his blushing apology.
We parted, him still feeling grateful, and me, dismounted from my high horse, a little humble. He thanked me again, squeezing my hand, and I just smiled and winked.
Next time I think I’ll leave my horse at home.
If you need a "belly laugh" check out:
Now, go love your poo chi.