Mary, however, was not to be missed. She's a bit insistent, matter of fact. But... in a good way. In this picture, she's sitting right outside the store. You can see if her you look close, sitting as the woman with the blonde crew-cut hair passes by.
That's her, behind the "Jackie O" sunglasses and green hand knit beret. She's quite an eyeful, once you stop to look. I might not have spotted her at first glance, but once brought to my attention, it was impossible to miss the generosity of spirit.
And of bagels.
When I lived in Bethesda several years back, I would often stop and grab a dozen bagels on the way home after work. This past Friday night, as we walked back to my car, I thought it would be nice to see if they had any good flavors, but when I got there... the door was locked.
The sign on the door said "8am to 5pm." It was 4:59:30pm on a Friday evening and the employees inside were determined to be on time. I could see them through the locked door where they were helping their last customer. At one point, they came over and checked the door to make sure I was locked out! Cruelly determined buggers!
I was still at the door with my old friend, hoping they'd let me in to buy a dozen, when Mary spoke up.
"You just missed 'em."
Er, yes. Thanks for that. I must admit I have no great love of people who point out the obvious, so this was not particularly appreciated commentary.
"They just locked the door before you walked up."
Again with the painfully obvious? Arrrgghhhh!!
But then I looked over at her, sitting there on the bench in front of the bagelry. She was pure fun. Just a picture to look at. Sitting there with an elfish grin and a mouth happily full of bagel. How could I not like what she brings to the Candy Party?
You can't tell (because even with a point-and-click, I am hopeless!) but she has thick, dark, wavy brunette hair and wears lipstick that could best be described as deep cherry. And she was busily gnawing away at the bagel in her hand.
Those of you who have hung with me know that I have an very odd curiosity about other people's food. I'm downright nosy. Constantly. And yes, I'm sure that is as annoying as it sounds to those around me. I just can't help myself. I always ask.
The bagel in her hand (as bad as that picture is, it was the best of the FOUR that I took of the bagel she was eating) smelled slightly sweet and looked a little damp. It looked like it had been freshly baked and sealed in the plastic bag. For a little. Too. Long.
Mary didn't seem to mind my asking, though. In fact, she seemed excited to tell me.
"It's a French toast bagel. I got a dozen of them for $2.59 on special, because they were closing. Here! Take one!" She offered me the bag to choose my bagel.
I'm curious about other people's food, but I draw the line at taking it from them. Nobody likes a mooch. So while I'm curious enough that I have to ask, I'm not dropping hints. You know that about me, right? I don't want to mooch someone else's food.
But Mary was insistent. In the nicest way possible, she made it clear that she truly wanted to share the experience (maybe because I did ask again if it actually tasted like the breakfast item?) of this particular bagel.
She said I should take a bite. And before I knew it, I had torn off a piece, offered my dear friend a bite and when she declined, stuffed half of that somewhat rubbery chunk in my mouth and commenced chewing. Ahhhh! It was a bagel after my own heart!
It was quite good: sticky, slightly sweet as it dipped in Mrs. Butterworth's or Log Cabin or something even better... and so bagel-chewy-wonderful! A very satisfying bagel experience that my friends in the West will never truly understand. An East Coast bagel can be a revelation and this one surely was!
A second later, Mary insisted that she give me a bagel for my own. It's a sharing thing, isn't it? The communal breaking of bread defines us as humans and in a twinkling, turns someone who was a perfect stranger minutes before suddenly into...
People Candy: French Toast Flavored!
Mary never told me her last name. She seemed a bit concerned that she'd end up in Time Magazine. I said no, just my own little corner of cyber Happy Town.