She had, undeniably, grocery store feet.
“She has what?” the woman asked in surprise and the young girl lifted up one bare foot and revealed its underside, a sole ranging in shade from brown to grey to near ‘bout black in places. We were not in a grocery store, but outside on a hot afternoon. Her feet were not pretty, I will admit, but not shocking, either. I’ve seen the like before, even had my share.
Grocery store feet.
“It’s what some folks say your feet look like when you’ve been walking barefoot around the grocery store, especially in the summertime,” I explained with a chuckle and the woman rolled her eyes and gave me a noticeable “whatever” look. I wasn’t offended in the least and actually kind of felt sorry for her. She can’t help it.
She ain’t from around here.
“Where I’m from, we wear shoes when we go shopping,” she said and, okay, so maybe that time she was being condescending. Do I waste my time telling her that we, too, wear shoes when we go shopping, unless you count the time in recent memory that my flip-flop blew — literally blew — as I walked from my car across the parking lot to the grocery store and there was no way I could keep it on my foot, so I walked, embarrassingly, with one flop on and the deceased one in my hand through the store until I came to a display of $2 flip-flops and grabbed a pair? Only, they had the little plastic tag thingy in the middle holding them together and, try as I might, I couldn’t pull them apart, so, yes, I bit it with my teeth, which, I know, is terribly disgusting, but I did it and now I’ve admitted it and, well, what am I gonna do?
I decided to say one more thing about feet and then drop it.
“It’s just a saying ... if your feet are dirty on the bottom from walking around barefoot anywhere, then some people call them grocery store feet. It’s just a thing some people say.”
She sighed and, what was that ... another eye roll? It was small and a little vague but, yep, that’s what it was all right.
“You’ve got some strange sayings around here,” she said.
A shame, I thought. Had this self-proclaimed sophisticated woman never as a child had the pleasure of spending days at a time barefoot, only putting on shoes when she went to town or set foot in church? Stubbing toes on the sidewalk and stepping on stickers, getting bicycle chain grease on her heels and washing her feet off with the hose before she was allowed to go inside for supper?
Maybe “where she’s from” she didn’t have the opportunity to do things like that, I thought, and there I went feeling sorry for her again.
“I know one thing ... you’re not going in my house with those feet,” the young girl’s mama said, and then the woman who had never had grocery store feet offered a suggestion. “I have a Handi Wipe you can use,” she said and reached for her purse.
The young girl’s mama stopped her before she had time to unzip her bag.
“No, they’re too far gone. That dog won’t hunt,” she said. Silence.
“Excuse me?” the not-from-around-here woman asked, and the mama proceeded to tell her what she meant.
“A Handi Wipe won’t work on those feet ... they’re too dirty. That dog won’t hunt ... it won’t work,” she explained and, what was that, did that mama give her a little eye roll? The woman just shook her head.
Maybe where she’s from they don’t have dogs that won’t hunt, either. Poor thing. Hopefully, the longer she lives in the South, things will get easier for her to understand.
After all, even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.