What happens when there's cheese between two shoppers.

I was in the supermarket five minutes from my mum’s place and when I reached up to pick up a block of wrapped cheese, another one further along fell off the shelf and hit a woman next to me on the upper arm.

I immediately apologised profusely and when the woman didn’t say anything, but just looked at me with a fussy sour expression, I apologised again.

She then made a kind of ‘humph’ noise and ostentatiously rubbed her arm, looking very aggrieved.

‘I’m very sorry,’ I said again, ‘I didn’t do it on purpose…’

Still, she looked cross and affronted.

I found her reaction extraordinary as it wasn’t really my fault. It wasn’t like I’d roughly reached over her and grabbed it from where she was standing. The cheese had been stupidly overstacked on the shelf and a small movement on the end where I was had caused the packet to fall off on her side.

Had it been me, I would have laughed and said ‘Don’t worry about it, dangerous places, supermarkets…’ or some such.

Instead she continued to look at me like one of those mean-faced ginger cats, rubbing her arm. I began to feel annoyed. Her reaction was so out of proportion.

She continued to look at me like one of those mean-faced ginger cats.

‘I didn’t do it on purpose,’ I repeated, ‘but I’m sorry if it hurt you.’

‘Well, I’m just worried about my mother-of-the-bride dress tonight,’ she said, in outraged tones.

I was so surprised I asked her to repeat it to make sure I’d heard her right and yes, on a Thursday afternoon she was worrying about her mother-of-the-bride dress. For that night. Really?

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I’d had enough, so I said sorry one last time and walked off, beginning to feel furious. Mean retorts jumped into my head.


‘I think a bruise on your arm is the least of your problems, sweetheart…’

‘I’m more worried about the bride who has you as a mother…’

‘Wear a bag over your head and you won’t be able to see it … actually, wear a bag over your head anyway.’

That kind of thing. I tried to stop myself, but I wasn’t exactly having a great day – I’d had to rush to look after my mum when she’d had a sudden medical emergency, and it was all very stressful.

A quick jaunt to look at all the yummy things in the supermarket had been my treat, while my mum had a rest. It was now wrecked.

From them on Nasty Cheese Woman was lurking wherever I pushed my trolley, the same mean-spirited expression on her face. She really was an unpleasant human being and I felt lowered by my confrontation with her. It put a pall on my day I really didn’t need.

Nasty Cheese Woman was lurking wherever I pushed my trolley.

But after I nearly ran her over while she bending down to look at something on a low shelf – I was starting to feel jinxed – it occurred to me how I could move on from it. I’d ring my best friend and tell her the story.

I knew she’d totally get it and be entirely on my side. I entertained myself planning the conversation in my head, certain that the phrase ‘I’m worried about my mother of the bride dress’ would enter the already vast cannon of private jokes we have been adding to for the 37 years of our friendship.

I could imagine how we would use it in the future.

‘But I’m worried about my mother of the bride dress…’

‘Don’t do that, it will spoil your mother of the bride dress…’

By the time I left supermarket, I couldn’t stop giggling.

This post originally appeared on Maggie Alderson's blog and was republished here with full permission. 

Maggie Alderson is a much-loved writer, editor and author whose books include Mad About the Boy, Cents and Sensibility and Pants on Fire. Her latest book is Secret Keeping For Beginners, was released this year. Maggie is best known in Australia for her incredibly popular, long-running style column in the Good Weekend, and now has her own website at Maggie joins a stellar group of women as a regular contributor to Debrief Daily, musing on topics ranging from relationships to style. Enjoy.

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