Gord Dipley thought the woman ahead of him in the supermarket lineup looked familiar but he had no idea that it was Margaret Atwood!
It all started when Dipley, "just picking up a few things for the wife" at a Toronto IGA, accidentally rammed his shopping cart into the back of the woman in front of him.
"Watch where you're going," she said to him, "or you might be in for some bodily harm."
Taken aback, Dipley quickly apologized: "Hey, I know there was life before man, lady, I'm sorry. Here, have a bluebeard's egg."
Munching affably on the well-known Cabbagetown delicacy, Dipley's new acguaintance looked at him quizzically. "You are happy, aren't you?' she asked.
"In a cat's eye," Dipley replied. "I'm still surfacing, playing the old circle game with the dancing girls, if you get my rift. Say, you must be a lady oracle or something. "
"More of an edible woman, actually," she said. "I used to think that my procedures for underground would allow me to double Persephone, but I'm not sure that two-headed poems are my forte."
"Me, I like a good murder in the dark," Dipley reflected. "All this power politics makes me go interlunar, know what I mean?"
"You're not just telling a handmaid's tale," she agreed. "Well, it's been nice talking to you, but I've got to get back home and update the journals of Susanna Moodie."
"Sounds like an interesting job," Dipley observed. "I roughed it in the bush myself when I was a lad, there sure were a lot of animals in that country. Maybe I'll see you here again sometime."
"Probably not," she responded, "true stories need no second words." She glanced at the contents of his shopping cart. Say, where did you find those fresh strawberries?"
"Oh, I still know a few wilderness tips," Dipley said. "Might be I could even teach you a thing or two about survival."
Then a voice from behind him said, "Hey buddy, you gonna yack all day?", and by the time Dipley had delivered a few well-chosen words of advice to the heckler, the woman had paid for her groceries and disappeared. It was only when he glanced at the magazine rack and saw her face on the covers of Maclean's, Saturday Night, and Chatelaine that he realized he had been talking to Margaret Atwood. "Darn," he said, "I could have asked her if she thinks that multiple patterns of imagery are more important than postmodernist intimations of authorial absence. Oh well, maybe next time." Then a shopping cart rammed into his back. He turned, glared at the tall, bow-tied man behind him, and said, "Good thing you aren't running a railroad, Mac."