I don’t know what possessed me to try and eat a crunchy taco in the car today, but there I was regardless, driving down the Belt Highway, taco crumbs everywhere, meat juice dripping down the front of my white top (of course it would be white – isn’t it always?) and there was shredded cheese everywhere. I managed to soak up most of the meat grease with one of the 50 napkins thoughtfully provided in the sack with my one taco. I picked the shell pieces off my shirt and ate those, however I was still covered in shredded cheese. I decided to wait until I reached my destination to brush it off because I didn’t want cheese all over my car. It hadn’t been that long since I’d had a similar incident in the car involving chicken and noodles. The aroma of rotting poultry was still a vivid memory and so I wasn’t willing to take any chances on ending up with another rancid odor in my car that wouldn’t go away without professional intervention.
It was not until I had traversed the entire square footage of Kohl’s and had stopped to talk with old friends and the parent of one of my students that I realized I had forgotten to shake the cheese off my clothes when I got out of the car. I was at the check-out counter applying for a credit card, so I could get the 30% discount, when I noticed a substantial amount of shredded cheese still clinging to the embroidery on the front my retro hippie peasant blouse. I said to the cashier, “Oh my, it appears that I still have cheese all over me from trying to eat that taco in the car.” “Really? She replied, “I didn’t even notice.” I knew she was lying, but I appreciated the effort.
“This is so embarrassing,” I said to the lady behind me in line who was precariously balancing her merchandise on her arms because I had sprawled my belongings out across the entire counter top. “Oh, I’m sorry, I said, “My stuff is taking up all the space.” “That’s alright she replied. “Here let me get this out of the way,” I told her then proceeded to grab my purse and billfold with such velocity that the secret compartment came unfastened and launched my Aldi’s quarter into the air. The coin’s trajectory followed a perfect arc, bounced off the lady’s shoulder and onto the floor. If I wasn’t sufficiently embarrassed at first I was now. Not only was I making her wait while I applied for a credit card, I had assaulted her with loose change. Thank you dear sweet baby Jesus that she had a sense of humor and she, along with several others in line, helped me capture the wayward quarter that had gone rogue on the marble floor. The cashier joined in and we all had a good laugh. I mean what else are you going to do in line at Kohl’s? It was one of those real bonding moments. I do what I can.
The whole experience got me thinking. Why don’t people tell you? I must have stood talking to at least four people during my shopping spree and not one of them mentioned the cheese all down the front of my shirt. So I’m asking you to do humanity a favor and be brave. I know it’s awkward, but have some compassion and tell a person when they have something stuck in their teeth or a stain on the back of their pants, when their zipper is down or toilet paper is stuck to their shoe (or anywhere else for that matter) and for Pete’s sake how can you not speak up when someone has accidentally tucked the back of her skirt into her pantyhose? This happened to me my freshman year of high school. I went walking through the commons area completely unaware that my posterior was exposed smiling flirtatiously at all the boys lined up on the radiator where they sat perched most days. God bless Brad Morrow who jumped down and followed after me tugging at my backside despite my attempts to slap him for being fresh. The moment I realized what he was trying to tell me was one of the most embarrassing moments of my young life. I’ve had so many others since then it has paled in comparison, but at the time I was horrified.
So please do me a favor and tell a person if they have ink on their face, lipstick on their teeth or need to…well…blow their nose. They’ll thank you for it later, even if they slap you first.