Thanks for the request @dad3 . I haven't thought about this in a long time.
  1. When I was a little kid, I carried action figures with me wherever I went.
  2. One time, I went to the Tom Thumb with my mom and sisters.
    Tom Thumb was a chain of small grocery stores, now defunct.
  3. I had Superman with me.
  4. While my mom was pushing my baby sister in the grocery cart, I'd roam the aisles, set Superman up on a shelf.
    He'd have an adventure surrounded by Cheezit boxes.
  5. Supes was a couple stanzas into a speech on how he had outsmarted Brainiac (again), when a woman appeared at the end of the aisle.
  6. She had long brown hair that just kind of hung off her head in clumps, and deep eye bags. She said, "Brian. Put it back, Brian."
  7. I followed her gaze. She meant Superman.
  8. I had a tiny childhood history of shoplifting, so I was a little indignant.
    "It's mine,", I said and huffed off, clutching Superman, to find my mom.
  9. Mom was in produce with my sisters. I put my fingers through the plastic grating of the shopping cart and walked along with them.
  10. I heard the woman's voice behind me.
  11. "Brian. Put the figure back, Brian."
    I thought, she must have heard my mom say my name before.
  12. The woman was standing at the lip of the produce area, which was recessed from the main part of the store. She was carrying a hand cart. She seemed tired and disappointed.
  13. I don't know what this woman thought I was doing. They didn't have any Superman figures like that at Tom Thumb.
    At that time, I cased every store I walked into for action figures. There was a bait shop in the next town over with Love Boat action figures. I KNEW who had what action figures. Tom Thumb did NOT have Mego Pocket Hero figures from the Superman movie. One time though, they did have a couple Cobra Officers.
  14. I turned away from her and kept my eye on the scummy tile as my mom maneuvered the cart toward the register.
  15. We were in line, and I heard her again.
  16. "Brian. It's not yours, Brian."
  17. I looked up at the woman. I looked at my Mom. Her eyes were cast down as she put cans from the shopping cart onto the conveyor belt. Mom didn't seem to register the woman or what she was saying.
    She never got close to me. She was about 10 feet away. But she was ALWAYS 10 feet away.
  18. We walked out of the store without further incident. I couldn't help but look back over my shoulder. The woman was looking after me. She held her small hand cart with two hands, in front of her. There were still a couple people in front of her in line.
  19. We drove away and my mom never said anything to me about the woman. At the time it confused me to the point of silence.
  20. Looking back, my mom probably didn't want to provoke someone she guessed was unstable, and afterward she was probably as rattled as me.
  21. The other possibility occurs to me too.
  22. It still makes me a little uneasy when people call me by my first name.