It was, in my opinion, awkward.
“And so I just ate it,” the young woman waiting in the doctor’s office said moments after a woman with a baby on her lap and sitting next to her asked if she had children.
“No, no children. But I do occasionally buy baby food and eat it. I don’t drink formula because I don’t like the way it smells, but the food is good and there are lots of craft things you can make with the little jars. The first time was when I saw my nephew’s baby food in the refrigerator and I was hungry, so I thought it couldn’t be all that bad.
“And so I just ate it.”
The woman with the baby must have been caught off guard because she just looked at her for a few seconds. Then she glanced at me and I shrugged my shoulders ever so slightly so as not to offend the baby-food-eating woman, but she was already looking at a magazine and not paying attention to us anyway. Then the nurse called the lady with the baby to the back and I was left in the waiting room with the baby-food-eating, magazine-reading woman and, I must admit, I had the burning desire to ask her what kind she enjoyed eating the most — carrots? green beans? sweet potatoes? — but something deep down inside made me afraid and so I didn’t.
But it did make me wonder — why on earth would someone tell a stranger something like that just out of the blue? And it reminded me of those stories the contestants on “Jeopardy” share every episode — their 30 seconds of fame after the first commercial when each contestant awkwardly provides an anecdote designed to give the world a glimpse of who they really are.
What would be my story?
First and foremost, let’s just make one thing emphatically clear — if you ever turn on your television and see that I am a contestant on “Jeopardy,” pack up the children, board the house, and make sure things are in order because most assuredly something is terribly wrong and the world is about to end. The closest I’ve ever come to being smart playing “Jeopardy” was when it used to come on two different channels each night and I lied and said I hadn’t watched it at 7 o’clock just so I could seem smart when it came on at 7:30. I still got most of them wrong.
I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but the story thing ... I think I could do that.
I imagine it something like this:
Alex Trebek: “Mandy, I see here it says you lost out on a money-making opportunity because it smelled bad. Tell us about that.”
Me: “Why, yes, Alex. When I was a wee lass I was on a trip and had the pleasure of meeting Benji, the famous dog, while he was on a walk with his trainer. When the trainer cleaned up after him, I offered to dispose of the doggy bag, but instead decided to keep it because I was sure someone from my elementary school class would pay a pretty dollar for Benji’s poop. But then my father found it in my suitcase and made me throw it away because he said it smelled bad. And to add insult to injury, I later found out that the dog I had met wasn’t the original Benji — he had died — and then I cried myself to sleep.”
True. Riveting. Insightful. Emotional. Okay, so the wee lass part is a bit much, but I think Alex and the viewing audience would like it.
It’s either that one, or the story of the time my sister swore a ‘possum spoke to her.
Sigh. I fear I must live with the realization that I will never find myself swapping delightful anecdotes with Alex Trebek and must be satisfied, instead, with the, albeit awkward, occasional gems I overhear in the doctor’s office.
“And so I just ate it.”
I bet it was carrots ... or maybe squash. Dang, I wish I’d asked.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.