Over the weekend, while purchasing materials to make the most ambitiously awkward Halloween costume ever, even the self-checkout machine took pause when crushed velvet and metallic fringe came across the scanner. (I swear a “casting couch” costume seemed like a good idea for a Hollywood-themed party.)
“Unexpected item in bagging area,” a non-soothing, non-James Earl Jones voice barked at me in robotic fashion. “Unexpected item in bagging area.”
My heart leapt, as it often does when technology comes out of nowhere and judges me in public. Loudly.
“Unexpected item in bagging area.”
Soon enough, the non-cashier came over to be my cashier and fix whatever always happens to make self checkout a group effort, and I was on my way — unexpected items in hand.
I used to be the kind of person who thought an outside, all-knowing, unemotional narrator/DJ would come in handy — to play laugh tracks and mood music and somehow clue me in when the plot was thickening in my life, unbeknownst to my coffee-sipping, naively-smiling character.
“Unexpected nail in the road/douchebag on the phone/bad idea in Mo’s area.”
But 26 years into my current sitcom, I’m also trying to remind myself of that irreplaceable feeling you get when you realize you’ve just made a friend, landed a dream job or fallen in love with a person or place that was not part of the plan, and it was only made possible because you let yourself be open to the unexpected.
Yes, those moments are few and far between and unfortunately sandwiched in with long periods of questioning and second-guessing, but aren’t they worth it? I’m trying to remind myself of that right now, while the latest episodes aren’t feeling so warm and fuzzy or laughable and certain.
James Earl Jones might have a dreamy voice, but I’m going to take my chances with the crushed velvet.