Great Men

Today, during my weekly run to Price Chopper I ran into a woman I knew back when I belonged to the health club. I was rifling through the oh so sad artichokes when a voice spoke from behind me: “They don’t look so good, do they?” I turned and saw the woman and smiled. “No. I guess I don’t live in California anymore do I,” thinking this was enough of a  comment and I could move on to the over-priced avocados, but no, she wanted to chat. Normally, being the misanthropic wench that I am I would have found a way to cut the chat off with a quick and dirty, “In a hurry, gotta go. See ya,” but there is something about this woman that made me feel okay about giving her an extra few minutes of my (precious to me) time. She always has a smile on her face, even when the rest of her might appear ragged or frumpy or out of sorts, the way women in their late 40s who are overwhelmed with life often look. So, out of pure love I asked her how it was going. “You know,” she replied, “I am so happy today. I am so satisfied.” I lifted my eyebrow in an exaggerated show of curiosity. Why on earth, given the state of artichokes and avocados in Vermont, could she be so darn joyous?

“I have all my life wanted to meet two men: Hugh Jackman and The Dalai Lama.”

Where could this possibly go?

“And now I’ve met them! I saw Hugh Jackman’s Broadway show in New York this year, and just this weekend I got a ticket to see The Dalai Lama in Middlebury!”

For a moment I thought maybe she was kidding; using those two names in the same breath–one who could tap dance till the cows came home and has amazing biceps; the other who speaks of unconditional love while bathed in soft saffron light. But no, she wasn’t. I knew that because her face radiated love. Because she seemed so, so, clearly like someone who’d been granted her birthday wish. Like someone who didn’t really care about how the artichokes looked.

I said, “That is so cool,” told her to have a great day, and moved on toward the milk.


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