Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – September 10, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – September 10, 2004 – Many moons ago when I was leading a profoundly different life from the one I enjoy today, I was involved in a relationship with a man who shall remain nameless. The less said about him the better. If it’s any help – unbeknown to me at the time – my friends referred to him as Mr. Potato Head.
Besides he really doesn’t figure into this story at all, except that he and I used to host an annual Christmas party at our home attended by 50 to 60 people. His job was to show up and play the delightful host – mine was to do all the work. Oh no, wait a minute – he once went to Canadian Tire and bought a fire log, but I think he hurt his back carrying it to the car, and had to rest for the balance of the week, or at least until the day of the open house.
Meanwhile back at the homestead I cleaned the house to within an inch of its life, put up the Christmas decorations, went to the LCBO, bought prizes for the contest winners and did the grocery shopping. You can see that I was well entrenched in the “idiot” phase of my life. I’m much better now – thanks for asking!
If you currently suffer from this affliction, get up tomorrow morning and declare – “Things are gonna be changin’ around here” – then start with yourself. Expect the transition to take awhile – idiot fever may have a firm hold on you – but it’s no match for a strong minded woman!
Now back to my story. It was a couple of days before the open house which, if I recall correctly, was held on a Sunday. My friend Sima and I were grocery shopping, at the now defunct Knob Hill Farms, on Cherry Street in Toronto. We were busy loading up two gigantic grocery carts with soft drinks, chips, pretzels, cookies, Perrier, Christmas cakes, pate, cheese, vegetables for dipping trays, fresh fruit, chocolates, cold cuts, crackers, paper plates, serviettes, candy canes, peanuts, walnuts, chocolate covered almonds and anything else that looked remotely edible and necessary for an afternoon of holiday indulgence.
We had both come directly from the office and were still dressed in business attire. It was a mild day. One of those wonderful mid-December days when it’s cool, not cold, and there is no snow. I was wearing a business suit, high black patent pumps and a mid-calf length black leather coat with a black fox fur collar. I loved that coat and I literally lived in it from December to March every year. It was the kind of coat that prompts this type of phone messages from gal pals, “Hi Rosemary – how are you? I hope you’re well. I need to borrow your black leather coat. Call me”. At the time my hair was dark brown, just shy of my shoulders, cut in a blunt style with bangs brushing my eyebrows. I always carried a black leather shoulder bag.
As Sima and I pushed our carts around the store I noticed a man and two women staring at me and then looking at one another. One woman shook her head, but the other one nodded and then conferred with the man. He nodded his head vigorously. I turned up another aisle and vanished from their view. Sima disappeared to get something else from our shopping list. When I rounded the end of the aisle – the 3 Musketeers were waiting for me. The man approached me timidly and said, “We were wondering if we could have your autograph?”
I turned around half expecting to see the ghost of Elvis Presley, but there was no one there. I looked back at the man and said, “Are you speaking to me?”. He nodded shyly. “Why”, I said, “Would you want my autograph – you don’t know me”. “Well not exactly”, he said, “But it’s not every day that a fella runs into Mila Mulroney at the Knob Hill”.
The Real Mila
It didn’t matter what I said to him, he would not be dissuaded. I got out a business card and passed to him. He looked at it and mumbled, “Oh, I see – you’re under cover today”. He returned to his friends and they smiled and walked back to the check-out line at the front of the store. Sima and I finished our haul of goodies, paid the cashier and left the store. Sima took her car and headed home and I finished loading my groceries into the back of my Mazda RX-7.
As I opened the door to my car, a chorus of “Bye Mila”, erupted from my three fans who had come out to the main door of the store. I waved at them and drove off. I know they were convinced that I was the wife of Canada’s “then” Prime Minister. Why on earth they thought that Mila would be schlepping a huge, wobbly grocery cart around Knob Hill Farms remains a mystery to me, but also a delicious memory.
Perhaps Mila was hosting a stylish soiree somewhere in Riverdale for a few of her closest friends. Perhaps they thought Sima was my RCMP escort. If so, she certainly shirked her duties and left me high and dry in the parking lot, with only a bag of pretzels and a banana for protection. I’ll have to remind her of that the next time I see her.
If that delightful case of mistaken identity happened to me today, “I’d say, “You bet you can have my autograph” – sign it – “Martha T. Steele” and whisper, “That’s the name I always use when I’m travelling incognito, and have a bit of time for shopping at my favourite grocery store. Please keep that to yourself. By the way – Brian sends his best. Merry Christmas”.