Unexpected encounter

Yesterday I was in Sears returning a shirt for my son. I was in  a hurry, a little irritated that I had to drive across town then had to wait in line since there was only one visible register open.  While I was waiting a frustrated woman with frosted wind-blown hair came up to complain she  had been waiting in the shoe department for 10 minutes for help and no one had come. Someone eventually went to see about her and I continued to wait.

A small elderly woman got in line behind me, carrying a shoe box. She pulled out a cell phone and told someone she was almost there, she was waiting to check out. I noticed her then went back to thinking about what I needed to do that day.

She attempted to strike up a conversation with the woman in front of me, about platform shoes. She had a pair in her box, black and white shoes with a three inch heel. I had to admit I admired her, if I can wear 3 inch heels at her age I’ll be thrilled and one fly old lady. The woman was polite but not friendly, she was irritated about having to wait.

The line finally moved and the elderly lady mentioned something about the weather to me. She was probably lonely. I’ve seen older people like this, who gladly talk to strangers just to have some human contact. I mentioned her shoes and she told me how they used to wear them all the time in the forties and how comfortable they are.  Then she mentioned she was planning to wear them to a booksigning.

My ears stood up.

She told me she had been a professional dancer, had worked with Judy Garland and was in a couple of movies. She started when she was fifteen, could see a routine once and copy it perfectly. She gave it up when she saw how Judy and other girls got hooked on diet pills and what it did to them. She married her high school sweetheart, went to bible college and was ordained. She was featured in this book, for some cause, she didn’t name the cause or the title. Then she told me her husband passed away two weeks ago and she was just now getting out. Maybe the shoes would cheer her up, she said.

Her only other concern was having her picture taken. She didn’t want the authors to show her as she is now, at 75 compared to when she was young and beautiful. I suggested she give them a family picture, a photo she liked, maybe something with her family.

My turn came, I returned the shirt and got my money. I asked her name, she said she danced under the name Norma Hunter. I googled it and looked in IMDB but couldn’t find her. I believe her story, she may have danced in Vegas and dancers in movies are rarely credited.  I said it was nice to meet her and went on my way.

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