Sort of a joke around our house is my “need” to become friends with people I encounter regularly. When we “stop at the store” the kids will ask if we are really just stopping or if I’m going to have a relationship while I’m in there.
I met my friend Charlotte several years ago. She works in the deli at the grocery where I shop every Sunday night of my life barring illness or out of town trips. Charlotte has quite a following- much because she gives out cookies to the kids, but also because she takes care of her regulars. Often she sees me in the produce section before I get back to her and by the time I get there, she already has my standing order waiting- a pound of Private Selection mesquite turkey cut on number 3.
We’ve always chatted- Charlotte is a chatter just like me- and our Sunday night visits have resulted in my knowing some very interesting facts about Charlotte.
1. She has over 200 pen pals. Has had for years and years. She limits “pals” now, only taking on a new one if they are her “birthday twin” (having the exact same birthday) but she made an exception and took on my youngest daughter for a while, she being way more faithful than my daughter.
2. Charlotte was reunited with a man who was her teenage sweetheart , and married him several years ago. They each seem to try to outdo the other in doing thoughtful things for each other.
3. Charlotte has never driven, and one of the things she loves so much about Tony is that he is such a cheerful and obliging chauffeur.
4. Charlotte and Tony like to travel. Not to just anywhere though- they target certain places. Like any town named Charlotte or Louisville, and there are way more of those than I ever dreamed. They’ve been to Hell, Purgatory, and Perdition. Last week they went to a town in Mississippi to see a cemetery that Charlotte had read about where someone had built a small playhouse on their daughter’s grave. She has had her hair cut at Floyd’s barber shop in Mayberry, NC.
5. When they travel, Charlotte gets her picture made in front of the post office of every town they stop in.
6. Charlotte buys a Christmas gift for every single one of her pen pals and for every single one of her favorite customers, and usually has them all wrapped long before Thanksgiving.
7. Her brother died of AIDS years ago, and she has heard that there is a square on the AIDS quilt in his memory, and she dreams of getting to see it.
8. Charlotte and Tony spent weeks recently making a Monopoly game for our family using family pictures on the board and money.
Charlotte had a birthday recently. She has asked many times if we could get together for lunch sometime, so I finally got myself in gear, and took her out today for her birthday. Of course, her chauffeur came along!