A Chance Encounter In The Produce Section


On Saturday around noon (what was I THINKING?) I was at the nearest super store buying groceries.  I’m not good at estimating numbers, but it seemed to me like THOUSANDS of people were in that store.  All the check-out lines were so long that I stood for a half hour in a line that went all the way back through the purse section.  I had plenty of time to study the purses, and, I have to admit, there WERE some cute ones, if I’d been in the market.  If I had known how long I would wait, I would have picked a line that wound through the BOOK section.  I might have been able to polish off a short novel during the wait.  Anyway — packed store. 

But I did have a chance meeting in the Produce section earlier that brought up a fun memory from a few months ago.  While I was picking out my bananas (green, but not too green, and only four of them, so that I could eat them up before the last one got mushy), a lady smiled and asked if I wasn’t going to speak.  I’m sure she could tell from the look on my face that I was searching my memory banks for who she was.  After she said I probably didn’t recognize her “with her clothes on” (surprising words coming out of the mouth of this very dignified-looking older lady!), I finally did recognize her – she goes to our gym.  And, after she had walked away, I remembered why she might especially remember me — I’m her “hero’s” wife.

At the gym, there is a small sitting area  in one corner of the big room — a square of chairs, with a coffee table in the middle, where there is always a copy of the local newspaper and USA Today.  If I am done exercising, but Hubby is still finishing on his last machine, I will sometimes go to the sitting area and look through USA Today until he is ready to leave.

There is a group at the gym called the Senior Stretchers.  I’m used to encountering a group of these ladies (my impression, from their conversation, is that they are mostly widows)  in the sitting area, where a half dozen or so of them usually congregate before they go into their stretching class.

One day, when I went to the sitting area, the lady I had encountered in Produce, who is one of the Stretchers, had two lovely old bowls that she was passing around to the other ladies sitting there, asking if anyone could get them apart.  When I walked up, she asked me to try too.  They were stuck fast and none of us could make them budge.  I did tell her that I had heard that if you set stuck bowls in a sink of very hot water and then put ice cubes in the inside one, the hot water would make the outside one expand, and the ice would make the inside one contract, and they might come apart.  She had already tried that — no luck.  

She told me that the bowls had actually been her sister’s.  Sis hadn’t been able to get them apart for many years and had just stuck them in the back of a cabinet.  But now Sis was moving to a smaller home and was going to throw them away.   This lady had asked if she could have them instead.  But now, she was to the point that SHE would probably throw them away. 

I hated to see that happen to those really pretty, probably antique, bowls, so I said, “You know, my husband is really good at things like that (“like that” = anything I can’t do myself).  Why don’t we ask him to give them a try?”  Of course, she loved the idea of new hope for the bowls.

So, when Hubby walked over, I told him her dilemma.  She pointed to the bowls she was holding, and told him all the ways she had tried to separate them.  Then she handed the bowls to Hubby. In the twinkling of an eye  — he  ran his fingers around the edge of each bowl — lifted them up to eye level and looked across them like he was sighting in one of his favorite guns — took hold of them with just his finger tips on each of the bowls, not under his arm like most of us do, and popped them apart!

And, the lady said, without missing a beat, “What took you so long.” 

Yes, I remember that lady now.  I love a good punch line, and that was a GREAT one!  Because of that and her line about “not recognizing her with her clothes on,” I think she is someone who must be fun to be around.  

Come to think of it, that group of ladies DO seem like a fun crowd — I may have to join those Senior Stretchers.  But, they’d probably be dissappointed if I didn’t bring their new “hero,” Hubby along, and I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. 

Don’t worry Hubby.  You’ll still be my hero, long after these “fans” have forgotten you!

5 Responses to A Chance Encounter In The Produce Section

  1. Funny! There is a cartoon I have in my kitchen from The New Yorker. It shows a man unscrewing the top of a jar and he says to the woman, “Look at how much better I am at this than you are.”

    That cracks me up everytime I look at it. Your story cracked me up, too.

    Join the Stretchers. They sound like a fun crowd.

    p.s. I look at people’s purses in line, too. And their shoes.

  2. Sandra says:

    SBW — We laugh about it too — but, it doesn’t stop me from “using” him shamelessly as my “muscle.”

    I MAY join the Stretchers — especially after I saw some of the great food they brought in for their carry-in last week!

  3. Leanne says:

    That is a great story. Isn’t it odd that these old ladies now have personality and we’re not just lumping them all together as old people? I’d like to join the group at my gym too.

    Does this mean I’m getting old?

    Don’t answer that.

  4. Chrissy says:

    The stretchers sound like a fun crowd to be with! I would join just for the social part, not just the class!!

  5. Sandra says:

    Leanne — Yes, I have noticed that “old people” have more personality than they used to — WHEN I WASN’T ONE OF THEM!! 😀 Just another case of you find what you’re looking for, I guess. I really have come to believe that “old” is a state of mind — all my adult life there have been days when I’ve felt “old.”

    Chrissy — You KNOW I’m all about the social! Do you think if I joined, I would actually have to DO the stretching!! That would take some of the fun out of it!

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