Today I was forced to sit in the front, at a bar-like counter facing the front window of the store. The seats there are all stools, and most patrons of the store exit right next to this counter. It's my least favorite place to sit in the store, mainly because there are too many stools, and I tend to wind up sitting too close to someone. I just like my space. I prefer the tables. That's just me.
Anyway, there was a young mother with a little girl (maybe four years old) sitting to the right of me. The little girl was adorable--she sat there and stared at me in that "You're a new person I never met before" way that kids do. I said, "Hello there. How are you?" She replied, "I'm very well, thank you. It's nice to meet you."
I tried really hard not to laugh.
She then turned to her mom and stage-whispered, "Mommy, this man has really long hair!" Her mother looked at me, smiled and said, "Yes he does, honey. It's pretty, isn't it?"
It was cute.
They left not much later, and someone else sat down--a young woman in sweats. I paid no attention. She was eating her lunch, I was eating mine. I was reading my book. No biggie.
Presently, the area seemed kind of crowded to me, so I looked up, and the woman sitting near me said, "Um, she's touching your hair."
I was like, "Erm, what?" and looked around.
Sure enough, there was a 70-plus-year-old, white-haired old lady with one of my dreads in her hands, staring at it like it was the coolest thing in the world. Her friend, a woman of equivalent vintage was crowded in behind the young woman to my right, pretty much breathing down her neck.
"Is this real hair?" the old woman asked.
I finished chewing and replied, "Yes, ma'am, it is."
"I don't understand it... do you undo this every time you wash it? How do you wash it? Do you wash it? How do you make it do that? How does this grow?" She peppered me with questions like automatic weapon fire.
The other old woman said, "Don't mind her--she's from Texas. This is normal behavior to her."
I did my best to answer her questions, but I think I have made it clear in the past that I'm not a big fan of being handled without giving permission. I was a little annoyed, but I did my best to not act pissy about it. She was, after all, an old lady, and I have a soft spot in my heart for old ladies since my grandmother passed away last summer. I loved her very much, and I really miss her.
The Silver Dervish continued to ask me questions for a few minutes before she sorta regained her sense of propriety and said, "Oh look at you--being a good sport and talking to me while I interrupt your lunch and reading!"
And, of course, the whole time, she kept tugging on my hair.
She said, "Tell you what--think of me like your grandmother. Do you like your grandmother?"
I said, "Of course. I miss her very much, but I get your point. That's fine with me. My grandmother was a lovely woman, and I am sure you are, too."
She said, "Aren't you sweet?"
The two of them toddled away with their canes, cackling to each other about old lady stuff.
The woman to my right said, "Oh my god, that was obnoxious... but they redeemed themselves at the end there, huh?"
I said, "Well, they were too cute. I am powerless in the face of old ladies."