She sat in the food court at the mall and feverishly thumbed her iPhone. I sat one table away watching, not in a creepy way, but like a man at the zoo when the zebras start making that funny zebra sound.
She was on Amazon’s website – at the mall. I had to ask.
“So you came to the mall to shop on Amazon?”
“No,” she smiled as if I was two goats short at the county fair. “I just don’t like wasting time.”
I nodded. Her burger and fries were cold from neglect. A ragtag choir of children from a local church or school were mangling “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” over near the information kiosk while proud parents grinned and nodded, deaf to the fact that it sounded more like “Rudolph the Unlucky Reindeer That Got Too Close To Uncle Henry’s Deer stand.”
“So you don’t want to waste shopping time while eating lunch?” I asked. “So you cruise Amazon?”
“Yes, Captain Obvious,” she said. “This is Amazon.”
She held up her phone waving it like a flag. I like a feisty woman, but she had a little too much Tabasco in her britches.
“Do I know you?” she said, furrowing her brow, eyeing me through slits that would have melted Frosty.
“No ma’am,” I said demurely. “I’m just out here buying a white elephant gift for some people at the Chattanooga Bakery. They make MoonPies.”
“I know that,” she grunted. “I was born at night, but not last night.”
“Okay, so you’re shopping while you eat,” I said. “Efficient.”
“Who said I’m shopping?” she said without looking at me anymore. She was deeply into what appeared to be watches.
“Well, I saw you were on Amazon and I figured –”
She cut me off.
“Look, if you are one of those lonely men looking to pick up women in a food court, I read that story already in Cosmo and it doesn’t work.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I’m intelligent enough to realize I was on the wrong side of this conversation and I was sinking fast, so I tried to ease my way out before she whistled mall security over. And let me tell you, it is one sad thing to be escorted out of the mall by a fake cop wearing a big walky talkie instead of a gun.
“I write these stories on the Internet,” I said. Then I realized how weird that sounded so I regrouped my response. “I do a blog for MoonPie.”
“Mike?” she blurted out loud enough to scare a little girl at the next table. “I know you! You’re MoonPie Mike?”
“Well, yes,” I said. “I am. And I go around talking to people about all kinds of things.”
She scooted her chair up and grinned. “Listen, can you get a discount on MoonPies?”
“I know some people,” I said.
“Good,” she said. “I need about 400 boxes. Like day after tomorrow.”
“What in the world are you going to do with 400 boxes of MoonPies?” I asked.
She looked at me, cocked her left eye like my mama used to do when I was in trouble and said, “Well if you have to ask, I guess you are not the man I need to be talking to.”
And with that she collected her bags, left her burger and stomped off, turning once about halfway to the Starbucks to stare back at me with disdain or disgust or some other D word.
Now if this story has a moral, I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is. But I think it means I need to stop hanging out in food courts during the holidays.