She was buying lemons. We reached for the same one and bumping hands, stood back to laugh—her cart was full of hands.
Yes, cloth hands with ribbons tied around the stuffed index fingers, a bag full of them, in between a pile of apples and a bouquet of tulips.
“What are those hands for?” I asked.
Her face crinkled as she smiled, delighted that someone had noticed. She immediately produced a business card, patting me on the shoulder before placing it in my hand.
“I’m entering a contest for Walmart,” she said. “I sell these at small shops. If I win the contest then I can sell them wholesale. Everyone deserves a hug.”
Indeed. The hands connect to a tubular single arm that fits around your neck like an elongated airplane pillow, sealing off the hug.
“You can spray them with your favorite perfume or baby powder and put them in the mail to a loved one. I found this fabric with teeth on it and made one for my grand daughter when she lost a tooth.”
She pulled out a hug pillow, a blue fabric arm with white teeth connected to baby sized hands. Pockets were sewn onto the hands for lost teeth. In front of all the produce, I placed it around my neck.
“What a clever idea.” I said.
If she wins the Walmart contest, she will receive 12,000 dollars to market her hugs.
“I’m turning eighty next month,” she smiles. “I moved to Colorado after my husband died because my grandkids like to ski. I was born and went to school in Texas, just outside of Houston.”
Her pink lipstick, twang and affectionate taps on the arm confirm her southern upbringing.
“You made my day,” I say.
And walk away from the cart of arms holding lemons.
You can vote for her at getontheshelf.com from March 7—April 3.
Editor: Kelly Brichta