I’m debating whether to buy ripe avocados or firm ones when Mrs. Lieder steps forward, a bag of zucchini clutched tightly in her hands. My Roodle suddenly does a double-take, blaring into my ear, this time in a British accent, “Sneakers? White sneakers? On a woman who’s already in her mid-30s? And her top? So casual! She’s dressed like a teenager!”
I feel my face getting hot and squeeze the soft avocado in my hand so hard that I ruin it and have to put it in my shopping cart.
Mrs. Lieder proceeds to pinch several tomatoes before settling on a single timid-looking one and bagging it with a flourish. She then knots it. Knots it. Then she turns in my direction and greets me, all friendly-like. “Hi! So happy to see you!”
Yeah, right. I consider ignoring her but I can’t do that, so I allow myself a quick “Hi” and bounce purposefully down the aisle. In my too-youthful sneakers.
I press the small protruding button angrily off. Then I self-consciously tug on my pink three-button ribbed cotton top. I thought it was cute. Is it too juvenile? Now that I think about it, I realize that it looks like something my 15-year-old-sister Baily might pick out.
Oh, well, I sniff. I like it. Who cares? I’m my own self. It’s all Roodle-talk anyway.
I discovered Roodle in an unlikely place. I found it last Tuesday when I went to the boardwalk with my good friend Chava. She had just gotten up (again) to take her freshly trained toddler to the bathroom when I suddenly noticed a Ziploc bag sticking out of a pile of sand that had accumulated under the next bench. I snatched it up curiously. Brushing off the sand, I could see a thin black bangle inside and some sort of clear silicone earpiece. There was something scrawled on the bag in big capital letters; apparently, someone had written on it with a Sharpie, “ROODLE. TRY IT, YOU’LL LIKE IT.” I furtively squished it into my purse and only looked at it once I was safely home.
The bangle was trendy, if a tad utilitarian- looking, but pretty. Matte black, with a green-and-red cabochon on either side. Cheap-looking. I would tell people I’d bought it at H&M.
I tried it on, and like Cinderella’s shoes, it fit perfectly. I pushed the silicone earpiece into my ear, and then—funny things started to happen. I figured out that pressing the green stone on the bangle (it was actually a soft little button) activated the teeny-tiny earpiece (Bluetooth?). I could hear other people’s thoughts, literally hear them reporting live in my ear. And if it got too painful, all I had to do was press the little red button on my Roodle, and presto! The thoughts stopped, and I was once again blissfully ignorant of what the other person was thinking.
After trying it out on a couple of neighbors and the mailman (he disliked the welcome mat at our front door), I realized that it only worked with thoughts people had about me. If my neighbor liked—or disliked—my parenting, I would hear her thoughts loud and clear, but I couldn’t seem to hear thoughts about her private life.