Shopping with the Muslims

This was my world, supposedly; but as I looked around me I realized that suddenly my long reddish hair and casual jeans marked me as the outsider.

I called it "Shopping With The Muslims."

Jeff would laugh every time I mentioned it, with that rich, cackling, my-crazy-spouse-cracks-me-up laugh that means both "I love you" and "You're insane." It's a laugh that reminds me of why I like my occasional flashes of eccentricity; while there is one kind of satisfaction to be found in living up to the expectations of others, there's another kind to be found in occasionally turning those expectations on their collective ears.What's the fun in living when, from day to day, you do nothing but exactly what your friends, spouse, and family expect you to do?

Nevertheless. The story, Amy, the story.

The clientèle of this particular Huntsville Wal-Mart changes drastically between seven and eleven a.m. on a Sunday morning. I stumbled upon this in desperation a couple of years ago, when needing to make a massive weekend grocery run but not wanting to brave the hordes of ineptitude, stupidity, and general yelling that is the White Trash Wal-Mart on a weekend.

Anytime after ten a.m. is church crowd, is oversized Church Utility Vehicles containing many tired and formally attired parents dragging very restless, hungry, and formally attired children, many of whom cannot think anything past "Mom please get me out of these clothes now so I can go play!" They are determined to pick up the seven perfect items after church, so that they can be prepared into the perfect Sunday lunch.

Rule: avoid the church crowd. Dem folks got teeth.

As the weeks went on, I found myself going to the store earlier and earlier in the morning, seeking the happy nirvana that would be a 1) mostly-deserted store 2) on a weekend 3) preferably during daylight hours.

One morning I waltzed in, uncharacteristically chipper for eight a.m. on a Sunday morning, and realized that quested-for happy nirvana was filled with Muslim women doing their shopping.

This was my world, supposedly; but as I looked around me I realized that suddenly my long reddish hair and casual jeans marked me as the outsider. Most of the women there were dressed formally, if somewhat exotically by Huntsville standards, and if I was not the only woman in the store not wearing a hijab, then she must've been hiding in the fitting rooms the entire time I was there.

The store was quiet. Eerily so.

I found myself stealing glances at the women around me as I picked out fruit and vegetables for dinner, marveling at the bold colors of clothing. Many of them had hair that I would have given anything to have for a day - beautifully behaved black, shining tresses that had so little in common with my own unruly, wavy reddish hair that it seemed almost incomprehensible that they could be so different and both be human hair.

I wondered what life was like for them here in Huntsville. I know that there is an Islamic center in town, but they are as silent a minority as the Christians are a vocal majority. Only by chance did I encounter them at all.

Every now and then, this city surprises me.