I could feel the stranger’s eyes boring into the back of my skull and the heat from his stare on my neck. “Don’t judge me.” I thought to myself as I set the groceries on the conveyor and glanced over my shoulder at the man standing behind me with his filled-to-the-brim shopping cart.
I put the plastic divider in place after pulling the remaining items from the cart and reviewed my impending purchases… A quart of skim milk, two containers of flavored coffee creamer, a bottle of OJ, one box of cereal, a loaf of bread, a brick of cheddar, three Lean Cuisines and 10 cans of cat food.
My tiny bundle of staples barely covered a third of the checkout counter. And it occurred to me that the aforementioned items probably screamed: “CRAZY, SINGLE, CAT WOMAN!!” to anyone who cared to investigate what it was I was buying. I wondered if he felt pity toward me… “Poor woman.” He probably thought. “Mid-thirties. Obviously purchasing dinner for one. Clearly companioned by one or more cats. Poor thing. She’ll probably go home, microwave her dinner and watch Lifetime all by herself.”
It’s what I would have thought. I judge people based on what they buy at the grocery store all the time.
Sensing his judgment and pity I smoothed my skirt and stood a little taller trying to act all nonchalant, confident and indifferent as to what anyone thought of me and my two-cans-shy-of-a-dozen cat food collection. I interacted with the checkout girl by enthusiastically chatting her up about the weather and the upcoming weekend to illustrate that I do, indeed, have social skills and some semblance of a life. She rang me up, we bagged it up and I strutted out of the store like I owned it.
“I am not a crazy, sad, sorry, single, cat woman. I do have a boyfriend. I am a perfectly happy, successful, well-adjusted, strong woman. ” I said with my body language. “You don’t know me.”
Perhaps my affinity for TV shows that delve into the intricacies of the human psyche is to blame for my hyperactive-grocery-store-paranoia. Consistently watching CSI, Criminal Minds and House might be the reason I ask such questions as: What do these purchases say about me? What would an FBI profiler glean from the ratio of human to feline food in my pantry? If someone murdered me in my home while I slept, would the cops feel sorry for me when they processed the crime scene?
Then again… maybe I just watch too much TV… with my cat.