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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

It was supposed to be a normal Monday morning.

I drove down to Keedy’s (Palm Desert), the little coffee shop where I have been a regular for over 40 years.

I ordered ham and eggs over medium with hash brown and wheat toast (dry) and grabbed the paper to see what was new and exciting in the world today. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a fairly decent looking woman two stools to my left. She appeared to be in her early fifties. She was lean and trim, and looked, you know, flexible.

I’m always scanning the room wherever I am – a relic of my years of self-defense training. Today it was going to be invaluable in keeping me in one piece, again.

My eggs arrived and I dug in like an Alabama tick. My peripheral vision caught something that made me a wee bit uncomfortable. The aforementioned woman had rotated 90 degrees on her stool and was watching me eat. I clenched my fork a bit tighter in my left hand, just in case…

She leaned over the empty stool:

“Pardon me, I know I shouldn’t interrupt, but I noticed you are a Catholic (she must have seen me cross myself before eating). I have had a few religious experiences myself.”

It was the way her voice went up on the word ‘myself’ that rung my alarm bell. I now had the butter knife in my right hand, ready for whatever might follow.

I turned to her, a bit of egg yolk dripping out the corner of my jaw for effect. “That’s wonderful, God bless”, I replied. I turned back to my ham and started frantically carving it up into smaller pieces; anything to make me look a little more psycho than I normally am on a Monday morning.

Her food came. Relief washed over me. Maybe I had dodged another bullet?

The stools in Keedy’s are very close together. You have to inhale and spin like a ballerina to get out without bumping the person next to you. Her purse was on the empty stool, but despite my best efforts, I dislodged it -- her sunglasses and two documents hit the ground.

Quickly, I stooped down to retrieve her belongings. I looked up and apologized. Her eyes met mine. She took one of the documents, turned it over and showed it to me. It was a postcard of a chipmunk with his mouth full of nuts.

She smiled and winked at me. My right hand slowly worked its way back over my tactical cargo pants to the pocket that held my folding knife. My pepper spray was in my left front pocket, but I couldn’t balance myself and retrieve both.

I started to briefly think about what metaphor she was trying to convey with that chipmunk. My left hand instinctively moved to protect my groin as I continued to rise slowly -- my options were limited since I hadn’t paid for my breakfast yet.

I tried to grab my knife but couldn’t. Arthritis! I hadn’t had my morning shot of Advil and was totally helpless. I backed up slowly. There was a line at the cash register so I just plunked down a Jackson and left. I didn’t turn around until I was safely in my car with the doors locked. Finally, I exhaled and let go of my crotch. All that self-defense training paid off in spades again. God knows what would have happened if she had her way with me.

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