Today, at a drive-up window, the cashier asked me if I liked owls.
What I Said: Yes. (handing him my cash)
What I Thought: Uh, this is weird. Why would he ask that question? Is it my owl key chain or my owl coin purse that is piquing his interest? I don’t have my keys or my coin purse out. They are tucked somewhere in the deeper recesses of my purse, and I probably couldn’t find them right now if I tried. My purse is on the passenger seat. Why is he asking? How does he know? Weird.
What He Said: What is your favorite kind of owl? (handing me my change)
What I Said: I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it.
What I Thought: How can I say that I like owls if I don’t even have a favorite owl? My key chain – an Advent calendar gift from my husband – is my favorite owl-accessory-of-the-moment. It hoots, and its eyes light up blue when I press the button on its back. But what is my favorite owl? The cute kind? What kind of owl is the owl on my key chain? Can I hold up my key chain (if I can find it) and say this kind? I can’t think of one type of owl at this moment. Wait…there’s the Great Horned Owl. Isn’t there? I could say that, but do I like that kind of owl? What if he asks me why? How can I say that I like owls, if I can’t even think of more than one type of owl? I wish that I could think of a type of owl that would sound super impressive, because right now I’m pretty sure that I sound/look like a stammering fool. Is there such a thing as a Hoot Owl? Will I sound dumb if I say that? It sounds like an owl in a children’s poetry book. What was that elusive owl that they referenced on The Big Year? Something-or-other Tufted Owl? That would sound impressive. But it wasn’t the greatest movie, so maybe it wouldn’t.
What He Said: I like Barn Owls. (handing me my drink)
What I Said: Oh, with the round eyes? (making a circling gesture around my own eyes with the hand that isn’t grabbing for my drink)
What I Thought: Is a barn owl a real type of owl? Or is it from the same poetry book as the Hoot Owl? Is that the owl on my key chain? I think it is. If it is, that’s my favorite type of owl. They are cute. Oh, he’s still talking.
What He Said: I was attacked by a Screech Owl once. Something something something. It was huge. Something something something something.
What I Said: Yeah, that would scare me. Huge. (nodding and making a gesture like spreading wings with both my hands)
What I Thought: Are we still having this conversation? Do I look as crazy as I feel waving my arms around like this? Why do I gesture more when I’m nervous? How can I exit the conversation gracefully? Isn’t there another car in line behind me?
What He Said: Yeah.
What I Said: Well, have a nice day!
What I Thought: (as I pulled away from the window) I’m such a schmuck. Why would I care so much about what a complete stranger, the cashier at a drive-up window, thinks of me? He was just being nice; making conversation to help his day go faster. But why did he ask me about owls in the first place? I…(looking down briefly, I catch a glimpse of my rather large hinged owl pendant necklace)…oh. I am an idiot.
This, however, is my favorite owl.
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The Hootch-Owl. Modeled after a 1930s corkscrew, it’s one of my favorite gifts that I gave my husband for Christmas this year. I should have told Mr. Friendly Cashier that my favorite owl is the Hootch-Owl and driven away with a confident, yet mysterious, smile.
After paying for and receiving my drink of course.