Notes from a small town on that infectious thing called friendliness

Notes from a small town on that infectious thing called friendliness MyStoryYourStory By Paula Damon It all started when we were filling up in Western Nebraska, Chadron, to be exact, which is darn close to the Wyoming State Line. â�?�?Howdy,â�? the cowboy nodded with his glance directed at my husband. That was at the local Mercantile. â�?�?Real nice day, isnâ�?�?t it? You folks from around here?â�? Later at the pubic library, a woman came bounding into the sitting area where I was reading John Updikeâ�?�?s Rabbit Radux. â�?�?Hey, you smell pretty,â�? she said with a perky voice as though we had had a lifetime together to draw upon. She was looking straight at me, leaving little room to question if she meant someone else. I giggled sarcastically since I was not wearing perfume. â�?�?Thank you,â�? I said, feeling entertained and confronted by her friendliness. I wondered what perfume? Could she smell my shower soap? My deodorant? Chuckling to myself, it dawned on me that she was detecting sample colognes on folded pages inside the Vogue magazine I had been thumbing through earlier. I accepted her flattery as a freebie. â�?�?You are pretty, too.â�? O.K., now that did it. I laughed aloud and hard. This episode of friendliness had just gone a little too far. You see, that was Tuesday and I had not applied makeup or fussed much about my appearance for nearly five days. I found her comment downright hilarious. She reached for the magazine but stopped herself just before picking it up. â�?�?Is that your magazine?â�? she asked, pointing to it. â�?�?No.â�? â�?�?Were you reading it?â�? â�?�?Yes.â�? â�?�?Are you done with it?â�? â�?�?Yes.â�? For a second time, she reached for the Vogue; momentarily cradling it. A certain quiet settled in between us while she flipped through the pages. â�?�?Well, I must say that I have never looked at Vogue before,â�? she admitted, her eyes glazed over while visually grazing from page to page. â�?�?But this is really interesting,â�? she pondered. â�?�?I guess they are trying to get all women to look gorgeous and sexy and feel good about themselves.â�? â�?�?Yes, I suppose,â�? I agreed, looking up from my reading to observe her virgin voyage through Vogue. â�?�?Well, should we use your credit card or mine?â�? she asked nonchalantly. â�?�?What do you mean?â�? I said, totally puzzled. â�?�?You know, to afford all that stuff they want us to buy in this magazine,â�? she chirped matter-of-factly and then disappeared into the Fiction section. However, that was not the end of such friendliness. Later that day, another woman came barreling down the â�?�?Clearanceâ�? shoe aisle in Wal-Mart. I was all alone at the very end of the aisle looking for a good deal on anything in size 8. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ll tell you one thing and one thing for sure,â�? her voice preceded her. â�?�?Men will never ever understand women and shoes,â�? she concluded with absolute conviction. Already warmed up from the library and gas pump encounters, I obliged empathetically. â�?�?Thatâ�?�?s right, not in a million years.â�? Humored and delighted by her openness to speak to me â�?�? a complete stranger, I lingered Without looking in my direction, the woman trolled the shoe rack and continued to spout, â�?�?I said, â�?�?Honey, Iâ�?�?m going to the Shoe Department.â�?�? He said, â�?�?What for? You already have 30 pairs of shoes.â�?�? I said, â�?�?I do not think so, dear. What I do think is that you are using the wrong number to multiply with – thatâ�?�?s for sure.â�?�? I do not have 30 pairs of shoes. Never have. Never will. Not even close.â�? She paused to try on a pair of tan pumps with peek-a-boo toes, and then said, â�?�?These will be perfect for that dress I am wearing to that wedding in August.â�? â�?�?Perfect!â�? I agreed. â�?�?Have a wonderful day, dear,â�? I added with newly adopted spirit of friendliness, and then disappeared down the fabric aisle. A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place in Iowa Press Women and National Federation of Press Women competitions. Damonâ�?�?s columns took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 and 2008 Communications Contests. For more information, e-mail pauladamon@iw.net. 2008 �?© Paula Damon

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