Regulars might remember that incident last year when I felt compelled to point out to somebody in Sainsbury’s that their new signage carried the line ‘…park at there own risk’ when it should obviously have been their own risk. The young woman in question happened to be the recipient of my valuable intelligence that day, and I felt only the tiniest glimmer of suspicion that her declamation ‘Oh no!’ carried sarcastic intent. And maybe it didn’t, but…
Ever since then she has pointedly ignored me. In fact, she appears to pointedly ignore everybody unless they direct a query at her. I suppose that’s what supervisors do. But today she was supervising the self service tills when I walked across to pay for my lunch. I realised she was watching me and eventually turned to look at her, and you know what she did? She smiled. It was a sweet, ‘I forgive you’ sort of smile. (I’ve seen it before and I’m rarely wrong.) Forgive me for what? Being a clever clogs who notices wrong spelling and can’t bear to think of it going uncorrected? I smiled back anyway. It isn’t something I do often, but smiling is like riding a bike.
(At this point the post was going to enter a dangerous arena: the difference between teenage girls and young women. My courage failed. Sorry.)
* * *
The woman in the coffee shop on Monday was different. She was around forty, a mere customer, and had a little girl with her. I was having coffee with Mel at the time, but I couldn’t help noticing this woman’s eyes turned in my direction. More than that, I could feel them. They were powerful eyes, so I gave in and looked back. And you know what she did? She smiled. Hers was more of an ‘I’m sure I know you from somewhere’ sort of smile. (And I’m rarely wrong.) But it was strong in a feminine sort of way, and rather beautiful, and I decided she looked French.
‘Is something distracting you?’ asked Mel, who was trying to talk to me about something-or-other.
‘That woman. She’s incredibly compelling. Do you think it would be impertinent of me to ask her whether she’s French?’
I didn’t get graced with a reply. Mel can be quietly dismissive when she wants to be.
‘No, suppose you’re right.’
I made do with smiling back – in a non committal sort of way, you understand.
* * *
And now the muscles in my face ache. Too much smiling for one week.