Plucked from Obscurity


One Sunday in May, I had a date with myself to see Captain Marvel at the local theater after I wrapped up playing piano for my church. Because a girl can’t live on expensive movie theater candy alone, I stopped by one of the many fast food restaurants in town for a chicken salad on the way (okay fine, it was a Zalad from Zaxby’s, and their entire marketing team deserves to go to jail for making me say that).

I decided to enjoy my meal in the restaurant, alone with my Kindle—a small thrill for a true introvert. Occasionally, I stole glances at other tables and noticed several disinterested elderly couples, exasperated young families, and a cluster of well-behaved high school boys who nevertheless could only be described as “intimidatingly energetic.”

And then, it happened. I turned my concentration toward my Zalad (directly to jail, do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200) and let my guard down for a fraction of a second. A young lady gently interrupted my foraging.

“I’m sorry to bother you.” Panic, panic, panic. “Do you happen to have a pair of tweezers I can borrow?”

In that moment, I had two thoughts: 1) What about me makes me seem like someone who would carry tweezers? Is it my great brows? I hope it’s my great brows. 2) Oh no, I have recently started carrying a very small purse and definitely don’t have that Mary Poppins over-preparedness thing going anymore.

Lo and behold, my pocket knife has a small set of tweezers embedded in the side, which I offered to the woman hovering next to my table. She exclaimed her gratitude and then asked, “Oh, do you mind if I use them to remove a tick from my ear?”

She tilted her head to show me, and yes, there was in fact a tick on her upper ear. (I most certainly made a face of disgust, the same one I’m making now as I think about this three months later.)

But because I was caught unaware, I said—in a horribly merry and singsongy voice—“Of course! Do what you need to!”

Ten seconds later, she was in the bathroom, and I was at my table, finally coming out of my stupor. It was then that I realized: there will never be a non-gross reason for someone to ask to borrow tweezers, y’all. Never. They are gross tools for gross projects, and I don’t know why they aren’t sold as a combo pack with a bottle of disinfectant.

I had a second realization, which was that this woman was going to come back at some point with my tweezers, and I was going to have to graciously accept them with my hands, the same hands that would have to carry on using a sad plastic fork to bring food to my mouth. The same hands that would have to come with me to the movie theater. The same hands I would have to live with for the rest of my life.

I had just convinced myself that maybe the outside of a tick wasn’t that gross (self-preservation, y’all) and had resumed wondering “why me?” (the young mother across the aisle had a fully-stocked diaper bag) when the woman returned. She wore a smile of relief. “Thank you so much! I washed them thoroughly.” I forced my face not to cringe as I held out my hand to accept the returned tweezers. “Oh, you’re welcome! Were you able to get the tick?” She showed me her ear—it was clean—and then walked away, as casually as a bank robber after a routine heist.

Meanwhile, I immediately threw the tweezers into a napkin, finished eating my Zalad (which seemed to be openly laughing at me by this point), walked outside with the napkin-wrapped tweezers, shoved them in the center console of my car, drove to the theater, washed my hands for an hour in their tick-free restroom, and enjoyed one of the best Marvel movies to ever have been made.

The moral of the story, ladies and gentlemen, is that you should never talk to strangers. And that I owe Brie Larson a drink for saving me a trip to therapy.