Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Annas

Good People of the Internets:

I need your help. 

It would appear I've gotten myself in a bit of a situation (not to be confused with THE Situation, which would just be gross and probably require a hefty dose of antibiotics and some sort of antifungal cream).

Here's the problem.

Every week, I go to the grocery store on the same day, at the same time, my super-duper, organized-by-aisle-for-maximum-efficiency list in hand.  I play it like a race, trying to be beat my own best time each week.  My child-free time is limited and I hate wasting it standing in the produce aisle smelling melons.


So a few months ago, I was engaged in my regular race through Stop and Shop when I ran into a woman I know.

Or, at least, I was fairly certain I knew her. 

I was about 85% sure she was possibly Anna, one of my Facebook friends, sister of an old, dear friend from high school.

She looked A LOT like Anna, who I haven't seen in person in many years. 

At first, it was super casual.  Just a smile, a friendly hello.

Then, one day, our relationship escalated to Chit-Chat.  This is really difficult when you're only 85% sure you know the person you're trying to chit-chat with. 

I tried to keep the conversation to only safe topics: the weather, the holidays, the snow, the weather.  But eventually you run out of ways to talk about the snow, even here in New England.  So I went with the next safest thing, thinking I could feel this woman out to see if she was Actually Anna.

"So," I began, "How's your family?" 

"Great," was all I got.  Shit.

I would come home from the supermarket, log in to Facebook, and head to Anna's profile and look at her pictures.

Did I mention she looked A LOT like Actual Anna?  I was still about 75% sure that she *was* Anna.  But, to be safe, I started to avoid her in the market.  I would see her in one aisle and duck down another.  I was out of things to say that wouldn't give away the fact that I wasn't sure I even knew who she was.

This worked great for a few weeks.

Until the day that I hurriedly turned the corner down the chips aisle.  There was Possibly Anna, talking to 3 other women.  I had no choice but to continue down the aisle; there would be hell to pay if I didn't come home with pretzel sticks and I sure as shit wasn't going to jeopardize my record-breaking time just because of a potentially awkward situation.  As I made my way past them, I smiled at Possibly Anna.

"Oh, hi!" one of her friends said enthusiastically, in a way that meant one of three things: she was really lonely and eager to meet new people, she was on some seriously kick-ass happy pills, or she thought she knew me.

And while my confidence that Possibly Anna was Actual Anna had dropped to 70%, I was 100% sure that I DID. NOT. KNOW. THIS. WOMAN.

So I gave her a confused 'hi' and scurried away.

Things had clearly taken a drastic turn.  It was time to cut the shit and get down to the nitty gritty.  But since I couldn't muster the courage to ask her, "Are you a good witch Actual Anna or a bad witch Possibly Anna?", I had to resort to a sneakier tactic.

This week, I sought out Possibly Anna.  I watched for her down each aisle, and when I finally found her near the toilet paper, I headed her way and quickly scoped the contents of her cart for my in.

Go-gurt.  Bingo.

Four years of preschool pick-ups have left me well-equipped to start any conversation about any child-related topic with any mommy in the whole wide world.  I started in. 

Me: "Blahblahblah *kids* blahblahblah *crazy* blahblahblah *school*."

Possibly Anna: "I know, right?  My daughter's the same way."

Me:  "How old is your daughter?"

Possibly Anna:  "Second grade."

And it's official.


Actual Anna doesn't have a daughter; she doesn't have a second grader; and she would never give 'SECOND GRADE' as an answer to a question about AGE.

I extricated myself from the conversation as seamlessly as I could, finished my shopping, and left.

That was this past Monday.  I know I'm going to see her, this Stranger Anna, next Monday.


It feels a little weird to keep faking it with this Stranger Anna. 

But I can't really walk up to her now, after all these weeks, and say, "Excuse me, but WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"

And, even more troubling, who in God's name does she think *I* am?

So, lay it on me, dear reader.  What's an identity-challenged grocery shopper to do?


  1. it's got to be another casual conversation about juice boxes or berries and then say...."you know, it's funny, I think I've had you confused with someone else all these months" And then say" and that is good because I've wasted all these f-ing months trying to figure out who you are and all these f-ing precious ALONE minutes talking to you, and now it can all end. Good bye." That's all.

  2. Do you have any business cards you can pass her as you explain you're in a hurry but want to catch up on the "good old days," but wait long enough to see if she registers those words as memorable?

  3. For the record, I don't *dislike* talking to her. I see it going down like this: one day, probably when I haven't had enough sleep OR coffee, she'll be chit-chatting and I'll just suddenly blurt out, "YOU'RE NOT ANNA! I DON'T KNOW YOU!" And then I'll run away and start shopping at Shaws. Which sucks, because I hate Shaws.

  4. HAHA!!! That's awesome! I once had a co-worker friend that I let call me Dierdre for about 6 months because it took me too long to correct her, and it was awkward. Then one day I was out sick and she was asking people where I was, and NO ONE knew who she was talking about because there were no Dierdre's where we worked. It was mighty awkward when I got back to work, but we laughed about it.

    That being said, I'd probably change my shopping day lol! I (obviously) don't like awkward situations. Who knows! Maybe she reads your blog!