We humorists are always on the lookout for a good story. For the past few weeks, I’ve been lurking in the shadows like a flu virus, waiting for something funny to happen. Maybe it was the flurry of the holidays or bad juju, but until yesterday, I secretly wondered if humor had left the universe and forgotten to call me. But then, yesterday afternoon, I decided to take the doldrums out of a gray winter day and take an exciting journey to my local home improvement store for lemon oil, floor cleaner, and a stain stick—and everything changed.
With my bottle of lemon oil in one hand, my floor cleaner in the other, and my stain stick tucked between two fingers, I approached the check-out stands with all the trepidation of a seasoned shopper who never has any luck choosing the fastest line. But then, there she was: a woman in an orange apron enthusiastically waving me over to her check stand. There’s no one in her line! I thought to myself as I excitedly pranced over to her and placed my items on the counter. And then she said it.
“Good afternoon, m’lady!”
I quickly turned around and checked behind me. Nope, no one was there. She smiled at me as I pulled out my phone and checked the date. Yep. January 9, 2013. Had I accidentally stepped into a time machine when I tried out a shower for fun in the bathroom aisle? I hoped I was still in the twenty-first century where women were happily enjoying all the benefits of push-up bras, GPS, and hair straighteners.
“Will this be all for you today, m’lady?”
I nodded. I looked around again. Where was I? The set of the new popular PBS series Downton Abbey? A local Renaissance Festival? A king’s castle during the Elizabethan era?
“How will you be paying for your items, m’lady?” she asked as she straightened the orange apron around her neck.
“Cash,” I squeaked. I knew I was slowly acquiring one of those smirks that made my mouth resemble a perplexed sock puppet’s as I tried not to laugh.
“Your total is $20.41, m’lady,” she said as she placed my items into a sack.
My mind was racing. I wondered if I should I tell her, “Methinks m’lady doth handle thy scanner with precision” or simply ignore the fact that she was addressing me by a term once commonly used by servants. I chose to remain in character, which happens to be “Modern Day Vicky” in case you were wondering and handed her the money.
“And your change, m’lady,” she said as she placed a few coins in my outstretched palm. I stared at the change. Thankfully, there were no shillings among the pennies, nickels, and quarters.
“Thank you,” I said as I picked up my sack and started to walk away.
“Have a wonderful afternoon, m’lady!” she yelled after me.
And with that, I turned with a casual wave and headed to the parking lot where I hoped William Shakespeare was waiting for me in the car.
In the last twenty-four hours, that three-minute transaction with a clerk who called me m’lady six separate times has created more laughter among my group of friends than I can remember. But of course, these encounters with unpredictability are what I crave not only as a humorist, but also as a wife, mother, and woman—because what is life without a really good story to tell every once and a while?
Oh, but this story isn’t over yet. I realized when I arrived home yesterday, that I bought the wrong brand of floor cleaner. I’m coming back, m’lady, so thou dost better don that orange apron and wait for me. And just in case you forgot what I look like, I’ll be the one wearing the smirk.
By Vicky DeCoster (All Rights Reserved)