(Scene: Me, in What-used-to-be-a-nice-department-store-back-in-the-day, but is now a store-spread-way-too-thin-that-always-looks-like-a-bomb-went-off-and-it's-quiet-as-a-church-and-impossible-to-find-people-to-give-your-money-to. But they were having an insane sale on something I needed for $20, so there I was looking imploringly at the saleslady who was helping someone else.)
Saleslady: I'm going to be a while. Why don't you go to Housewares? Maddalena is in Housewares.
Me: (out loud) That's Auspicious!
And I practically ran to housewares to see . . . her. Maddalena. This is the first time in almost three years I have ever, ever encountered another person face to face with her name. Sure, I've faced a boatload of Maddy's and Maddie's but none of them were derived from the whole which I carry around. I had a million questions: What did she look like? Was she Italian? Was someone in her background Italian? Or did the name come from elsewhere and if so where? Was she smart? Nice? Pretty? Intelligent? Old? Young? . . . .
She was . . . . Asian. Which brought up at least 20 more questions to add to my million. She was young, in her twenties, pretty enough but . . . .
Ohmygod, grumpy. Sour. Looked pissed off. My eyes bore a hole through her nametag (spelled with one "d", huh, how about that), and I wanted desperately to simply say,
"I love your name."
And couldn't bring myself to do it, because the look on her face said that she may very well respond with "I fucking hate it," and then where would I be?
I don't blame her remotely -- hell, I'd be a cranky beyotch if I worked in that place even for limited hours, and lord only knows what else she has on her plate (boy trouble? School to study for? Up late? Sick?), but I felt as though my opportunity to know a Maddy -- a real one, a live one -- was slipping through my fingers. Definitely not a person on which to lay my connection to her name. I fought the impulse to rip off my bracelet and show her the name engraved inside.
All within about 90 seconds.
"I'll put your receipt in the bag."
Have you ever met someone in real life -- in a surprise sort of situation -- bearing your dead child's name? Did you say anything? Was it what you expected? Or kinda like something out of "Twin Peaks"?