I’m looking for shoe polish at the Wal-Mart (don’t judge) and I finally find it in a little crowded corner. An older man is at the small display and I step up next to him and start perusing the goods. He drops a little can of something and I pick it up and he says, “Did I do that?”
“Yes, you did,” I say. “You naughty.”
“I’m old,” he says. “I didn’t do that when I was young.”
“I know,” I say, a little flirty. “But you’re so much wiser now.”
“Am I?” he asks. He seems thoughtful, like he likes the idea of being wiser and it hadn’t really occurred to him.”
“Oh, of course you are,” I say. “You’d have to be!”
“But I miss my wife,” he says, just as matter-of-fact as can be. He obviously doesn’t think that wisdom is any compensation for that loss that came with age.
“I’m so sorry,” I say. And he says, “Forty-two years. Breast cancer.”
And as I murmur again, “I’m so sorry,” he adds, “See you later” and walks away. Not in a rush, just like he has said what he needs to say and now its time to leave.
I sit there among the shoe polish.