So last week I'm in town, browsing in the shopping centre, and spy a shop called aftershock. Lots of swirly pretty dresses. All up on rail too high for yours truly, but gamely, possibly in spite of this, I wheel in and begin pulling at skirts and sleeves until something interesting falls down and I can decide I don't like it.
And then she spots me. Someone who want to ask the dreaded question, WWWY. Whats Wrong With You?
(Simply this. It's hot. My arse irons creases into everything I wear and I can't find a rail of dresses my height, let alone an actual dress).
I am distracted by the fans blowing dresses everywhere and dresses falling on my head so am slightly caught off guard when she trills;
"Ooo, look at you...!
In a wheelchair!
And you're so pretty!"
(This isn't neccesarily the truth. People will always say this, even if you're an utter minger, because they think it's the right thing to say).
So I just smile and wheel away, but the damn woman follows me. Smiling. Asking questions and babbling.
"Whats wrong with you?
Can you stand? A little bit?"
"I do charity work at the local hospice..."
Retreating in the opposite direction is an inticement to her rather than a rebuff. And damn, it's soo hot. Stupidly I retreat further into the shop and away from the door. No way out. I turn round and face her.
She is an Elizabeth Taylor in meltdown, wild black curls variously flattened and sprouting out at odd angles all over her head. Sweating profusely in a long sleeved red velvet top stretched tight across a large, red, velvet covered apple of a tummy. Too much gold jewellery. And eyeliner so runny it is speckled and smudged in patches right down to her heavily rouged cheeks. She's not going to go away until she gets a response from me. I kind of get the feeling flippancy would be cruel. Luckily she breaks the silence.
"What's your star sign? Scorpio? Pisces?"
(I smile a little. People never guess Capricorn. What is it with people who think they can guess your star sign? Isn't Capricorn a glamorous enough answer? And once you say you're a Capricorn, they act like game over. It seems Capricorns are too dull for star sign bonding. No Capricorn has ever asked me for my star sign, and I would be shocked if one ever did).
"I'm Gemini," she says like it should mean something profound (- Does it? Please tell me if you know...), and then quickly changes tactic and we're back on the old, um, leg, issue.
"Darling, tell me... were you born like that?
(Like what? With a chair stuck to my arse, fresh from the womb? I think, but don't say out loud. My poor Mother. Think of the stitches...).
But I haven't the heart to say that to this curious individual who looks like she's just leapt through from a parallel universe, so I just say,
"Yes. But not in the chair all my life. Well, it's been nice talking to you. Goodbye." And wheel behind a rail.
She follows me again.
"Can you stand? A little bit?"
"I do what I can," I say, wearily. "I'm sorry, but I must get on. Got to get back to work." I lie.
"Yes," she says, nodding, like it's the missing piece in the puzzle. The she shoots me this mysterious look and adds "Hmmm. That's because you're a Capricorn..."And just goes. I could say say she clicked her heels together and vanished in a yellow puff of smoke, but it was more like she clicked her yellow teeth together and the fans were blowing dresses all over the place, but anyway, before I could say "Goodbye" again in another attempt at a forced-yet-polite-manner, or even "What's because I'm a Capricorn?" I didn't have to because she had gone.
But did she mean she knew because Capricorns are known to be concientious workers, or because they are known to hang around dress shops lying about having to go back to some ficticious work? It's all so complicated.
And I didn't even find a dress.