She was standing in the Kitchen Utensils aisle of the grocery store with a Courtesy Clerk, all 4’11” of her the picture of elegance with her beautifully coiffed white hair and black coat. Both of them were scanning the wall of gadgets for a citrus juicer.
“The Checker said she sold one the other day,” the clerk said, “so I know we have them.”
“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?” she asked. “It has a dome that pushes the juice out.”
I had trouble picturing her juicing an orange, standing there in her Going Shopping outfit.
Attempting to be helpful, I butted in. “Perhaps there are some in Produce, by the oranges.”
“I’ll go check,” the clerk said and immediately trotted off, looking relieved.
She took my arm, a total stranger, my reward for butting in. The top of her head barely came to my shoulder.
“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, Dear?” We slowly followed the clerk toward Produce, and she shook her head. “No one seems to do anything by hand anymore.”
When we arrived in Produce, the clerk held up two juicers, looking very pleased with himself.
“I found two,” he said, proudly. One was a simple wooden reamer; the other looked like a big yellow nutcracker.
“What would you do with that?” she wondered, pointing at the big yellow gizmo.
“You put half an orange in this side,” the clerk said, “and squeeze the two sides together.”
“I just want one with the dome on the little dish to catch the juice,” she said, drawing it with her hands and pantomiming pressing an orange down with a twist.
“You might look at a…” Oh dear, a little DANGER sign started flashing in my head. I couldn’t say, “antique store.” That would be calling her old. (Which she was.)
“…collectibles store,” I finished. “I’ve seen them there.” Whew, I thought, got out of that one.
“Collectibles store?” She gave me a blank look. “What’s that?”
Sigh. “You know, an, um, antique store,” I whispered.
“Oh,” she said. “Am I an antique?”
“Never mind, Dear,” she said to the clerk, “Thank you for looking.” She took my arm again and steered me toward the checkout stand.
Fearing I had insulted her, I looked for something to say. “I hate seeing things I grew up with at antique stores,” I said. (See? I thought. I’m not old and they sell things I used at antique stores, too.) “I saw my roller skates at an antique store, and I thought, ‘That’s just not right.’”
“Don’t worry, Dear,” she said, patting my hand. “Things at antique stores are usually quite expensive. You should feel flattered.”
I had to chuckle as we tottered along. Suddenly she was trying to make me feel better. Everything is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
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