She drove straight home from the library and parked extra straight in her driveway. She let herself in with her key and put some water on to boil. She unwrapped her tea bag feeling humiliated. She couldn't believe that she hadn't heard the librarian coming up behind her. She also couldn't believe that this self-same librarian had recognized her without so much as a blink -- in spite of the perfectly placed mole.
Well, she'd learned her lesson good and well this time. It was quite clear that unless one was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to protect their dual identity – like Spiderman or Batman or Indiana Jones – a double life was simply not feasible.
Far from being undone by this discovery, in the four minutes that it took for her to steep the perfect cup of green tea, she fully came to terms with herself – meaning her real, true, actual Self. Before being seized with the madness of The Nose, she had been content, hadn't she? Now that the madness had spent itself, she was content again. What a relief to have the thing settled.
It was in this state of relief that she went to bed early Friday night and woke up early Saturday morning with a sudden urge to grocery shop. She got up and threw on some clothes without bothering to shower or do her makeup. She wanted to beat the crowds to Shop 'N Save. She almost ventured forth without a list or coupons, but she stopped herself. Such rash acts belonged to the Nose or the Mole – not to her. She made her list, sorted her coupons, and headed out the door.
She enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the grocery store. It was just 7 a.m. and the place was nearly deserted, yet she still kept her cart to the right of each aisle just because it was the right thing to do.
When she finished her shopping, she got in a checkout line behind just one other person. As she waited her turn, she double checked the expiration dates on all her coupons. She glanced up and noticed that the cashier was an acquaintance of hers. How nice. They were not exactly friends, but they both had children in the same grade at school and had chatted dozens of times.
She unloaded the cart onto the conveyor belt, careful to sort fresh, frozen, cold, and canned items for proper bagging. Then she looked up to greet the cashier with a smile and a warm "Hello!"
"Paper or plastic?" was the terse reply.
"Actually, I have cloth bags," she answered, confused by her friend's formal tone.
"Fine," the cashier replied.
"How are you, Janet?" she asked hesitantly, peering uncertainly at the cashier.
At the sound of her name, the cashier looked startled. She looked at her customer more closely, squinting and tilting her head. "Do I know you?" she asked, clearly confused.
"Yes, I'm Janey's mom."
The cashier hesitated a moment more before breaking out in a smile. "Oh, of course! My goodness. I didn't recognize you at all. You look so different without your makeup!" she commented, then laughed good- naturedly.
She loaded her groceries into the back of the minivan and drove home in absolute silence. She didn't even play the radio. She had to think. No, she had to do more than think. She had to process. What could it mean that the only way to render herself totally unrecognizable was simply to appear as her unvarnished Self? What on earth could that possibly mean?
She had absolutely no idea.