Last night, at Walmart, I got in the 20 items-or-less line. Princess stood next to me, clutching a package of Bonne Bell Lipsmackers to her chest. (My little girl has been asking about makeup--and this is the closest a five-year-old is getting to lipstick.) A package of contractor trash bags (for all the things I'm getting rid of) and a box of Klondike bars (for James' and my weekly at-home date night) rounded out the purchases.
The man ahead of us in line was quite friendly. Usually, I am too, but something about this guy made me wary. He looked pretty normal--40s, slight of build, white tee, slightly scruffy, not anything unusual. He leaned our direction and talked to Princess, and my alarm bells went off. He had a mumbling way of speaking, but I swore I heard something about a wink.
Princess had the same impulse as me, because she backed up and hid behind me. I resisted the urge to shove him, gave the man a half-smile, and he mumbled a few things to me, grinning. Uncharacteristically, I didn't say anything, but kept that half-smile plastered on.
The guy took a little time to pay, not quite understanding what the cashier wanted, and I tried to chastise myself for being so cold. It looks like he's mentally deficient, I thought. But the feeling of wariness was there still, and I couldn't help but listen. I put my arm around Princess and held her close to my side.
When the man had finished paying, he went to get his bag. I studied him discreetly for a moment, thinking that his movements looked familiar. He swayed a bit, and for a second I wondered, Parkinson's?, then realized that his motions reminded me of someone.
Johnny Depp, I thought. Yep, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Captain Jack . . .oh.
The guy lurched away, and I stepped up to the register into a funny-smelling cloud. The cashier and I gave each other a look.
"Drunk?" she said in a low tone.
"You think?" I laughed as I waved my hand around a bit trying to diffuse the scent.
She stiffened, then I felt someone behind me and I knew it was the drunk guy. He moved to my side and leaned (or swayed) into my arm a moment, mumbled something, then veered off again.
"How are you today?" the cashier asked brightly.
I swiped my card. "Oh, I'll be fine when we're in the car safely!"
We all laughed, then I took my bag, my daughter's hand, and on high alert, went out of the store.
I shook my head. I need some kind of drunkdar. Years ago as a dental assistant I helped with a patient who was, as the dentist put it, "drunk as a skunk." I had no idea, though he reeked. I was used to patients smelling funny at times and acting weird.
But now, as I headed to the van, Princess tightly in tow, being highly aware of my surroundings and going over self-defense techniques in my mind, I had to admit that I have a blind spot where sloshed individuals are concerned.
Will someone out there please invent some inebriation-recognition glasses?
Edited to add: Once my wits came back and we went to leave, I realized I should report the guy to someone. I hurried to the door, looking for him and planning to tell the greeter. I didn't have any idea where he'd gone, and somehow the drunk had vanished into thin air. Otherwise I would have done my civic duty and reported him.