She was keeping her eyes out for Kevin, Handsome, and the flesh-toned Fiat 500 as she went about Christmas shopping. The family had decided to have a grab-bag for adult gifts and she'd drawn her nice cousin's husband, a man who lived, breathed, slept, and ate for two things: his family and woodworking.
"A Dremel tool. That's the word from the basement. He wants a Dremel tool," she told her when they spoke on the phone.
"Okay! That's great!" she said, her life being made easier. "What's a Dremel tool?"
"Now you want to know too much," the cousin answered.
"Did he say a particular model?" she asked.
"Oh!" she said. "Something about 12 volts being plenty."
"That's good information. Do you know where I can get one?" she asked.
"Again, too much," the cousin said, "but I've seen the word Dremel at every major hardware store in town."
"Solid info, thanks," she said.
"Oh!" she said. "He also used the word 'kit.'"
"Good, great," she said. "I'll go this weekend. Care to join me?"
"Oh, sweetie, it's bad enough when I have to go as the dutiful wife. I get in there and I feel so stupid and inadequate and small. It's nothing he says or does -- you know he's lovely -- but there's so much stuff in there I don't understand that it's just frustrating to walk through the door," she said.
"I feel the same way so I look for a woman working there because she'll explain it to me and I don't feel like I need to buy a clue, too," I said.
They rang off and she scribbled "Dremel tool" on a piece of paper and put it in her purse, which she picked up along with her keys and decided to just walk to the local super-ultra-mega hardware store that was just four blocks (two blocks of which were parking lot) from her house.
She was thinking about maybe getting a small Christmas tree and lights and some new ornaments and a garland and maybe a new Christmas tree blanket and she thought about it so much that she walked right past the flesh-toned Fiat 500 that was illegally parked in the fire lane by the door. She was almost run over by the very large man carrying bungee cords and a big Christmas tree.
Then she noticed both.
"Kevin!" she exclaimed. She'd been practicing saying his name in her head so when she came face to face with him, his name is what came out.
"Oh, hey, hi. Yeah, the wife sent me for a tree so I'm gonna bungee it to the roof and not drive too fast and hope for the best. I think it's nice. How about you?" Kevin asked.
He held the very large tree straight out. She had to admit, the man could pick a tree.
"Nice tree, Kevin," she said.
"Yeah, thanks. Nice to see you. Merry Christmas," said Kevin.
"Happy holidays, Kevin. Happy new year, too," she said and managed to smile. "Please excuse me. I need to buy a Christmas gift."
"You live around here?" Kevin asked. "I've never seen you here before."
"Sorry, Kevin," she told him. "I have to run. "
"Yeah, okay, sure. Nice to see you," she heard him say as she ran into the store.
She went directly to the ladies room where she washed her hands, then her face, then used the facilities, then washed her hands and face again. Then she looked at how she'd smeared her mascara washing her face and spent another five minutes trying to remove the streaks from her cheeks. She washed her hands one last time, grabbed a paper towel and opened the restroom door, discarded the paper, and headed for the power tools aisle.
She wasn't watching where she was going and almost knocked over a man carrying many boxes of stringed lights in varying colors, ornaments, and a rope of pine garland around his shoulders like a stole. People could say he was very handsome.
"Well, Merry Christmas!" said Handsome. "I can't believe I'm seeing you here of all places! How are you doing?"
She started crying right there in the store, turned around, and ran back into the women's restroom. Had she been watching the security camera, she'd have see a handsome man watch her run away, then shrug, pay for his merchandise, go out front where he helped a giant get a big tree to stay on a small car, put his items in the back, then point at the store and look genuinely worried, re-enter the store and approach the security guard, gesturing toward the back of the store.
As she stood in the handicapped stall leaning on the wall and cried from frustration, a female security guard entered the restroom and asked how she was.
"I'll be okay," she said through sniffling. "I just saw someone I didn't want to see."
"Your friend asked about you. He told us you were in here and asked us to check to make sure you're okay," said the guard.
"My friend?" she asked.
"The white man. I guess he's good looking. Icy eyes, though," advised the guard.
She gasped and cried harder.
"Is he still here?" she asked the guard.
"No. He and the big guy drove away. He thanked me and gave me his first name. He said to tell you Brian hopes you're okay," the guard said.
A puzzle piece willingly falls into place.
"Can I help you?" asked the guard.
"I need a Dremel tool. Twelve volts. Comes in a kit," she said, feeling oddly relieved. "Can you help me get a salesperson?"
She came out of the restroom, washed her hands, dabbed at her eyes, and grinned at the security guard who was clearly puzzled.
"Sorry," she told the security guard. "It's been a heck of a few weeks. You know?"
"I know," said the guard. "Sometimes it comes all in bunches."
"It does," she said, sniffing one last time. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you," said the guard as they walked out of the restroom toward power tools. "And have a blessed new year."
She managed another grin as the guard turned her over to a female salesperson.
"This lady needs a kit with a 12-volt Dremel tool. Maybe like that one I got for Clarence for his birthday," said the guard to the salesperson. Then to her, "It's got different attachments. Clarence -- he's my husband -- just loves it."
She hugged the guard who returned her hug.
"There, now. You just forget the bunches and remember the whole thing. You're fine," said the guard as the saleslady looked on with a smile.
When the guard walked away, the saleslady said, "They made her and broke mold. Having her in my life makes me feel like I won a lottery."
She got teary again and the saleslady told her, "Christmastime is too stressful. It'll be January and we can look forward to icy cold weather that will drive out all the bad thoughts and sour business."
The saleslady placed the Dremel kit in her two hands.
"You can pay up front. Merry Christmas," said the saleslady who smiled at her.
She smiled back and whispered, "Merry Christmas."
After she paid for the kit, she walked to the door where she was met by the guard again.
"Where's your car?" asked the guard.
"I walked," she told her.
"You live close by then? Can I call a cab for you? It's looking like it might snow and that's a nice kit and I want to make sure you get home with it. Is that okay?" asked the guard.
She nodded and stood with her arms around the kit while the guard made the call. They waited all of thirty seconds.
The guard helped her into the backseat and said, "Be safe. Have a blessed holiday."
She waved through the window and told her cabbie her address. Five minutes later she was home and she gave the driver a huge tip. A minute after that she was inside her home with the Dremel kit but feeling like she'd just lost her mind.
What the hell was happening?