Monday, May 02, 2005

Would you like a ribbon with that corsage?

Last week Mindy and I went to a small town about 80 miles north of Houston for training. We arrived the afternoon before the the conference began, so we explored the town. It was a decent little east Texas town - pretty, but not too exciting.

Being the thrifty (cheap)people that we are, we found a consignment shop on the courthouse square. Being the friendly (nosy) people that we are, we struck up a conversation with the proprietress and her assistant.

It didn't take her long to discover - "Y'all aren't from around here, are you?" We confirmed this and asked a few questions about the area.

She assured us repeatedly that she did not live in this town. Oh, no. She was from the Woodlands, yet another Houston bedroom community. She also pointed out, on more than one occasion, that the houses in the Woodlands started at $350,000 and went up from there. We tried real hard to look impressed. She lives in the Woodlands and merely runs the business in this town.

This was followed by the pivotal question: "Well, did y'all come down for the flower show?"

I looked at Mindy. She looked at me. We were both obviously thinking the same thing, "Just say yes." We could've said yes and told her delphiniums are really not our specialty and no, we don't know how to cure rust on roses. We could have told her that and waltzed on out the door. But, nooooo. We told her why we were in town. Stupid, stupid us.

"We're here for to attend training for probation officers on the risk assessment of sex offenders."

If she'd been a Pekinese, her ears would have pricked up and she would have tilted her head to the left and let her tongue hang out. She immediately launched into every story she ever knew about sex offenders and any kind of maybe, possible, sort-of encounters she or her family had experienced with anyone who might have been a sex offender or been just a little creepy. She even told us that this county has the fastest growing population of sex offenders and incest cases in the state. Did I mention she lives in the Woodlands and the houses there start at $350,000?

Mindy and I edged towards the door. "That's nice." "Oh, really?" "You don't say?" We got as close as two counters and a clothing rack from freedom when she stopped in mid-sentence and whirled on her assistant. She crinkled her nose and said, "Well! I am just going to be nosy and ask!"

We could have skipped out right then. We could have made a run for it. We knew better. But we stayed.

She leaned over the counter and winked. "So, do y'all talk real mean to these people when they get out of prison?"

That's what she said. What she meant was: "Do they talk dirty to you?"

We could have tried to explain that we work with people who hopefully will not go to prison. We could have told her that yes, sometimes things get a bit graphic - in a health class kind of a way, but there is a fine line between being honest about an offense and retelling it for fun and we try not to go anywhere near that line. We could have explained that sex offenders are the most compliant group we encounter. (The idea being to cooperate so the authorities will not take a closer look at what you are doing.)

We could have told her all of that. But she didn't want to hear it and we pretty much bolted for the door. Finally. Next time I will listen to that little voice in my head and say, "Yes. I am a florist."


Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

OMG.....Rach I laughed so hard and it was like I was there all over again. My shop is going to be the Bo Kay Florist Shop. ~laffin~ that was another for reals flower shop that we saw while there. I just love traveling with you.

Captainwow said...

And a fine florist you would be.
Great story telling - I can picture that lady right down to her manicured nails and expensively highlighted hair. She probably lives in the only 150,000 dollar house in the Woodlands....

reverendmother said...


My stepmother lives in the Woodlands... man oh man this really takes me back to TX.

Sometimes on Fridays (my day off) when I'm at the playground with my daughter, people ask what I do and I just tell them I stay home. I just don't want to get all into it. I guess some would be appalled--I'm missing an opportunity to evangelize and 'share the good word' with them... but what can I say, I'm presbyterian.

Quotidian Grace said...


I'm sure I'm not alone in recalling times I didn't correct someone's erroneous assumption about me so I could avoid a conversation like this one!

chevypickup said...

Next time I hope you both decide to use your intermediate spanish and say "No entiendo Engles, voy a la playa!" or just say "Si!" that ought to throw anyone off coming from to white girls!

revmom said...

reverendmother took the words right out of my mouth! It is difficult to act like I'm interested every time some one tells me every "church" story of their life once they find out hwat I do for a living. I say I'm "a consultant". No one knows quite what to do with that!

Yankee T said...

This is a great post! I actually was a florist at one point in my life, and I can say that it doesn't prompt questions like that one!