After my Hansel and Gretel moment with the washing powder at the supermarket a few months ago, then my falling foul of a serial flatterer pedalling the lines ‘you are the most stylish woman in Bishopston'(shame on him) you might have thought, hoped, that I would know better by now. But no.
As I turned up at the airport to drop off a child, feeling sad that he was going, as well as suffering some existential angst about the formlessness of my own life, a woman came up to me and said, ‘It’s you! The woman with the coat!’
For a while I was confused but felt pleased. Whatever she was talking about was clearly a pleasant thing as she was smiling and nodding at me with such vigour and enthusiasm. Then another woman came across.
‘Oh yes, we love your coat. We’ve been talking about it all week!’ As I was wearing my handmade leopard skin jacket (which I think looks uncannily like one I’ve seen Kate Moss wear), I presumed that this must be the fabulous coat they were talking about.
Before I could stop myself it was as if they’d pressed some button which I could not override.
‘Oh yes. I made it. It took me forever!’
‘You made it?’ They exclaimed. Genuinely amazed.
As they then returned to the theme of the coat, how beautiful it was, its length, its unusual colour , I started to realise that they weren’t talking about my leopard skin number after all. Sherlock brain now fully engaged I understood that it couldn’t have been as they mentioned that they had first seen it ‘last week”, it was ‘a most beautiful shade of blue‘ , and, as for the material out of which it was made, ‘What was that? Boucle?’ As I stroked my feline friend, soft and silkily furry to the touch I thought, ‘No, I don’t think you would, could, call it that…’
For a moment I felt my angst cloud descend upon me once more as I imagined that these happy, dazzlingly smiley women had mistaken me for someone else.
But then they were back on track, describing in incredible detail (such are the powers of observation in the fashion conscious female) me and my very expensive ~(for me) ‘Damsels in a Dress’ coat which, indeed, I had been wearing seven days earlier. As I basked in their admiration I added that I had made the one I was wearing ‘as well’ …
Then I left. Quickly. Before I could blurt out the truth. Beaming.
As for the child, well I’ll be seeing him again soon enough. And as for the existential angst, let’s just say that it’s amazing to think how the world can seem a better, more welcoming place after just a few appreciative smiles and kindly, approving comments.
So. What have I learned about myself from this episode? That I am a serial liar? Maybe. That I am susceptible to the beguiling words of sycophants? Possibly. That I am shallow? Most definitely. Or (and) that I am just like anyone else who likes it when people say nice things to them?
Now it’s time to get back home and start spreading the word, the words, some kind, appreciative words … to others.