Accosting Strangers in Target

It’s easy to tell when Mark is ready to go visit Grandpa and Grandma:  He starts ‘recognizing’ them in stores.  Nearly always Grandpa, and usually Target.

Like last week, when we were there picking up a few things, and some poor unsuspecting old man walks into the same aisle.  Mark glanced up, looked again, whispered, “Grandpa?” as if not quite believing it himself, and sprinted down the aisle, cast flapping.

He’d picked a ringer, I’ll give him that:  a skinny old man in jeans, tennis shoes, plaid shirt, and a military ball cap.  He could have been Grandpa’s stunt double.  Or more likely, Grandpa could have been his; he was obviously frailer than Mark’s robust farmer Grandpa.

Mark figured out pretty quickly that it was not, in fact, Grandpa, but having rushed up to the dude and started a conversation, he behaved politely.

“Oh, you’re not Grandpa,” he said.  “My name is Mark Patrick Noland Butler.  What’s your name?”

The man liked this although it was clear he hadn’t understood a word.  “Hi, there.”  He must have had throat surgery because his voice was low and raspy; he was, actually, harder to understand than Mark.

Mark was obviously interested in his voice, and I could see him considering asking about it and then deciding it would be rude.  “My name is Mark Patrick Noland Butler,” he repeated.  “What’s your name?”

He ruffled Mark’s hair.  “Like your hair.”

Mark:  “It’s red.”

I decided it was time to peel Mark away.  After all, this “Grandpa” might well have a Grandma expecting him to help with the shopping and Mark could be getting him in trouble.  But I expect it’s a good thing we’re visiting the farm soon.

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