Mark and I went on an excursion to the buy-stuff-in-bulk store yesterday. We don’t go there often, and especially try to avoid it on the weekends. But we had some time on our hands and I had mentioned wanting to look at bath towels there. The bath towel prices weren’t all that impressive, so I took a pass. But you know, being in the land of jumbo food quantities, we couldn’t leave empty-handed! We bypassed the three-foot tall bags of Cheetos and the ten-pound bags of M & Ms and filled our cart with some mostly responsible food choices.
With two cases of bottled water, jumbo containers of green grapes and red strawberries, a box of Chipotle veggie burgers, and enough Drumstick ice cream treats to last us a month, – (Who am I kidding? Two weeks, tops.) – we headed for the check-out area.
This store has at least twenty check-out lanes and most of them were open. Customers were oddly jammed up at the lanes closest to the side of the store where shoppers tend to finish their shopping. Mark and I glanced at the less congested lanes a little further down and strolled on by those who couldn’t seem to notice the fifteen million other less-busy registers. We took our place in line behind one other customer.
As we stood waiting our turn, a woman with literally a handful of items took her place behind us. Mark motioned for her to move ahead of us.
“What?” she asked. “No. You don’t have that much in your cart. I can wait.”
“Go ahead,” he said. “You’ll be checked out in half a minute. You shouldn’t have to wait. You don’t want to be here all day!”
The woman was appreciative and as we all waited for the customer ahead of us to get finished, she became very friendly and conversational.
“I was actually here twice yesterday,” she admitted. “Living nearby can be a hazard. BUT I had a brush with fame in the produce section, so it was totally worth it!”
I cocked my head in curiosity. A brush with fame? In the buy-stuff-in-bulk store?
“Yep,” she went on. “You know where that little refrigerated room is behind the lunch meat section? I was in there, picking out a bag of salad when I saw this black hat that I just fell in love with!”
I momentarily wondered how this woman’s big brush with fame could be with a hat, but before I could ponder any further, she went on to explain.
“… And then I noticed the face beneath the hat and guess who it was!”
She didn’t wait for us to guess. Her head jutted forward and her eyebrows rose upwards in excited remembrance. “Kristi Yamaguchi!” she revealed with a clear expectation of awe and wonder in our response.
I surely disappointed her as I was skeptical. Really, why would Kristi Yamaguchi be in our buy-stuff-in-bulk store? What reason could she have for being here? I couldn’t think of any big sporting events that might draw her to Minnesota right now. The woman clearly thought she saw Kristi Yamaguchi in a refrigerated room behind the deli meats, but I decided she might have been a little nuts.
She must have noticed my skepticism. Mark does tell me that even though my mouth often doesn’t reveal the thoughts in my head, my facial expressions usually tell it all. (Serious marital drawback at times.)
“I knew it was her the minute I looked at her face,” our friend explained. “She’s so cute and so tiny! Her waist is only about this big.” She gestured with her hands to show me that Kristi Yamaguchi’s waist is approximately ten inches around as she went on with her tale. “I looked at her and said, ‘Excuse me, but are you Kristi Yamaguchi?’ She admitted that she was and that she was here for her husband’s niece’s graduation party. She married a guy from North St. Paul, you know.”
I didn’t know that Kristi Yamaguchi had married a guy from a neighboring city to ours, and momentarily scanned my brain to see if I remembered ever knowing anything about Kristi Yamaguchi’s personal life. I didn’t. I couldn’t dispute this woman’s story but remained skeptical that she had actually encountered Kristi Yamaguchi in the refrigerated room behind the deli meats. I figured Kristi’s look-a-like decided to have some fun with this woman and play along.
“Her mother-in-law was with her and kept shooting me a look that told me I’d better not blow Kristi’s cover. I assured them there was no way I would have done that. I just can’t believe I actually met her here!” she finished.
The cashier had now finished ringing up the customer ahead of us and was ready to scan our new friend’s purchases while I mulled over whether or not to believe the story she’d just told.
Mark turned and interrupted my thoughts. “Who’s Kristi Yamaguchi? She a golfer?” he asked in his typical abbreviated way of speaking.
“Figure skater. Famous olympian,” I responded in kind.
“Hmmm,” he said.
“Hmmm,” I said.
The woman paid for her purchases and bid us a friendly goodbye. By the time we’d paid for our stuff, the likelihood of whether Kristi Yamaguchi could actually be found shopping at our buy-stuff-in-bulk store was already slipping from my thoughts.
Then this morning, I read Rock Chef’s tale of ‘Playing the Game’ at the check-out lanes and it reminded me again of our odd encounter. A quick Google search tells me that our new friend from the check-out lane quite possibly did have a legitimate encounter in the refrigerated produce room behind the deli meats with a famous figure skating olympian who did, in fact, marry a famous hockey player from Minnesota.
So to our new friend in the check-out lane, I apologize for doubting your story. And to Kristi Yamaguchi, I apologize that my husband confuses you with Michelle Wie.
But thanks to all of you for spicing up what otherwise would have been just another mundane food shopping trip. The Chipotle veggie burgers alone would not have been enough to do it.