I’m standing in line at a corner store and someone in front of me is sharing a laugh with the cashier. He gets his change back, still laughing and the cashier says a final, funny remark as he leaves.
Now I approach. The cashier’s got a big smile on her face and is still laughing.
But in that that second where she pulls her gaze from her laughing partner to my face, her smile disappears; her lips curl back to a business-like, unemotional position and her laughter stops with a noise that sounds like a speeding car coming to a sudden stop “HaaHahah, Ahhhhh Mmmmm.” It says: “Oh. You. You’re a stranger. Great, back to work”.
Now I feel like the Grim Reaper. My presence has blacked out the sun, and sucked the joy from the room.
But rather than accept the new, somber mood, I’ll invariably say something because, I gotta keep the fun going. Partly it’s a challenge – “You think this guy can make you laugh.” “Watch this.” But mostly it’s not to be a killjoy.
The cashier then says: “Your drink comes to $3.00.”
“$3.00? Does this have alcohol in it?”, I reply
Once I see the look on the cashier’s face, it’s clear awkwardness has clubbed fun to death.
“Uhh. No there are no alcoholic drinks in here”, she says.
“Right”, I say politely and hand her a five dollar bill, and wait for my change, wincing from the shrapnel of my comedic grenade.