It was a dark and stormy night.
That’s the way most scary stories have to start, right?
Well, this story – in which I am scared out of my wits by a genuine fan – does take place at night (that’s the dark part) but there is no storm involved. Sorry.
It was dark though, very dark, and my husband and I were strolling down the sidewalk, arm in arm, headed home after an unsuccessful trip to the movie store downtown. (The movie store closes at seven, not nine, Ann. Duh.) We were talking about something, I am sure, or maybe just walking along in love-struck silence under the orange glow of the streetlights when we were approached by a woman who was leading along a little, fuzzy white dog on a leash. She didn’t seem to notice us as we walked closer to her, and we certainly didn’t pay much attention to her when she was suddenly right in front of us, the little dog sniffing around in the leaves on the edge of the sidewalk, she looked up at me and yelled,
“SWEET POTATO PIE!!!”
She had a huge smile on her face, but I jumped back and immediately tried to hide behind my husband, who was now looking at the lady and the dog – determinedly pawing in the sidelines. She seemed to be about middle age, short brown hair with a happy laugh and not too dangerous a build – the dog was nothing to fear either but my voice and breath were stuck somewhere between my heart and my stomach. Why was she yelling foods at us? Did she want me to respond with another type of pie? Were we doing desserts, or any food, or ones that have to do with potatoes? Or was she just crazy? Or was I sleeping? I stood there, staring at her, mouth open, cutting off the blood to my husband’s hand with my grip on his arm, wondering if I should just run.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you. You wrote that recipe for sweet potato pie in the Reporter. I love your articles, I read them in the paper….. “
I had absolutely forgotten that my column with the sweet potato pie recipe had been published that day. I can’t really remember the rest of what she said because I was so relieved we weren’t about to be killed by someone with an obsession about sweet potatoes. How creepy would that have been? I think I nodded and I must have smiled a little because she kept talking as she walked on, followed by her small dog, apologizing for scaring me and promising to be more discreet should we ever meet in the daylight. I don’t think I had said a single intelligible thing.
Alex and I turned to continue home and he said, “Babe, we need to work on your people skills…. especially if strangers are going to keep coming up to you and saying how much they like to read your column in the paper….”
The next day, when I wandered across the street to the library to pick up a book, the librarian took one look at me and hollered, seasoned with a terrific amount of glee,
“Hey! SWEET POTATO PIE!”
This time I was ready for it and laughed as I said, “Oh, you saw the column yesterday, eh?” The delights of living in a small town. I did much better in the daylight as we talked a little bit about sweet potatoes and pies and books and the freelancing course I took a month ago- Alex would have been proud of my people skills.
I think I am going to start giving my columns more interesting names so that when people scream them back at me, I will have a better idea that they are not threatening me, but simply quoting me. Here are some ideas…
“Hey! YOU’RE GORGEOUS!”
“Hey! REVENGE OF THE SPIDER SPINSTER!”
“Hey – 200 THINGS TO DO WITH BLUE YARN!”
“Hey! I MARRIED A YANKEE COP!”
“Hey! RIDING THE BUS WITH MY APPLE!”
And we all lived happily ever after,