“Oh gee, I’m really sorry but this is exactly the shirt I was looking for,” Gloria said. “It’s a beautiful shirt. I can see why you’d like it.”
She draped the purple shirt over the handle of her shopping cart and moved to the deep blues. Within seconds, the old lady snatched the shirt, hugged it close to her chest, and hurried with her overflowing cart over to the checkout line.
“Stop! Come back here! You can’t take my shirt!” Gloria peeled around the end of the rack so fast, her cart went up on its two side wheels, nearly running into a little girl sitting on the floor, pink and yellow snow boots splayed about, while her mother examined the bottoms of a pair of high-heeled thigh highs.
Jesus H., Gloria thought, what the Goddamnhell? Who grabs shirts out of somebody else’s cart? The old lady has to be off her rocker. Gloria didn’t say these things out loud, there being a child present and all, but she thought them so hard they might have lit up her forehead.
The old lady was in line just two people away from the cashier. There was still time to get the shirt back. Normally, she’d just give it up, you know, avoid making a scene, but this was a tremendously lovely shirt and, besides, there was the principle of the thing. Shirt-snatching. So wrong.
Leaving her cart next to the boot family, Gloria sidled up to the old lady. She decided to try a little charm, make friends with the old lady, and convince her to give back the shirt.
“Hi, hey, about that shirt. I’ve been looking for a purple shirt for a long time. I just turned 65, really feeling like I’m approaching old age, and I want to do it in style, you know, like in the poem, where it says, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple?”
She tried to smile but it ached, like when she smiled at the boy who bagged her groceries when he put the canned tomatoes on top of her bananas.
“It’s my shirt. You can’t have it,” the old lady snipped, rolling it into a squished purple ball and folding both arms over it.
“Well, it’s not your shirt yet. You haven’t paid for it!” Gloria’s brief commitment to de-escalation and charm evaporated. “I had it first!”
“No. I had it first. It’s my shirt. Here, I’ll prove it.” The old lady unraveled the purple shirt and laid it over a stack of $1 novels. “You see that last button, how the thread is different? I sewed that button back on after my dog chewed it off. See the little bite marks? He was a real small dog.”
“You’re telling me that this is your actual shirt. And you just found it at this thrift store.”
“Yes. That’s my actual shirt. And I just found it at this thrift store.”
“There’s got to be more to the story.”
“There is. But the cashier is calling me.”
Read The Purple Shirt: Part One HERE