Flossing my teeth this morning (“Only floss the ones you wanna keep,” Ricky Gervais advises in Ghost Town), I was reminded of my trip to Cary, North Carolina, last fall.
I was stopped at a red light on my way to an appointment when I found something amiss in a back tooth. So, I innocently pulled out my floss contraption and proceeded to do what flossers do. Since I can do more than one thing at a time sometimes, I noticed the car behind me pull up on my right side – probably to not be behind me when the light turned green. I was in a rental car with out of state plates and if you’ve ever been behind a rental car with out-of-state plates, you have probably wanted to get away from them, too. No problems. I understand. Come on around.
But, then I felt eyes on me. I looked to my right and she was staring at me. Disapprovingly, too. I’m still not sure I was doing anything wrong, but being in her territory, I figured her attitude trumped mine. So, I was caught doing something bad.
In case you don’t know anything about Cary, it has the densest population of PhDs in the country. This means money, money, money, academia, academia, academia, high-falutin’, high-falutin’, high-faultin. And there I was flossin’ in public. Not only that, but I was on the road that passes in front of the upscale mall in town in a rented red Chevy Cobalt (bottom of the rental scale) with plates from Tippecanoe, Indiana (wherever this is, they must use canoes a lot to name the town after tipping over in one) .
So, since my hands were practically in my mouth anyway, I quickly covered it in shame and conjured up my “I’m so sorry, please don’t think bad of me” look. But, when she didn’t turn away and didn’t change expressions, I realized that there was nothing I could do to make her think good thoughts about me. So, I shrugged my shoulders and made my when-all-else-fails move: I started to laugh.
And do you know what she did? She laughed, too. And not in a bad, laughing at me way, but in a permissive, carry on, let’s be friends kind of way. The light turned green, and we waved goodbye.
Just goes to show you: yes, we can.