By Ellen Brown
I took a walk with an old woman yesterday. The heat wave had broken and the weather was perfect. She said don’t get her wrong, she loved the winter and her cozy sleeping-bag coat, but it felt so wonderful to walk outside in just a t-shirt.
The old woman greeted the doorman and the porter hosing down the sidewalk. When are they going to take the scaffolding down? she asked the porter. I heard a year, he said. She stuck her fingers in her ears and said, Don’t tell me that! and moved along.
The next doorman in the row greeted her and they chatted for awhile about the weather and baseball. Why do people root so hard for the Mets? she asked. Because they’ve been down for so long. He said there was a curse on them because their coach had done something bad years ago. How old are you? she asked. 41. You’re younger than both my children! the old woman cried. You look good, he said. She stuck her thumb in the air and moved along.
We had planned to go to the park, but the city drew us in. She needed something to wear to a business meeting the next day. We decided to go to a new store, not the only one she had frequented forever. She was not a shopper. She wanted to go to a place where they didn’t know that, so we turned left instead of right on Columbus Avenue and headed for BOC — Boutique on Columbus.
At first the old woman rummaged through the racks, eyes down behind her sunglasses. Then she realized she was being rude and whipped them off and said to the saleswoman, I’m sorry. I haven’t looked you in the eyes.
They were alone in the store, except for me. The saleswoman was in her 20s; the old woman, her mid 70s. They found a few shirts that would get her through her meeting and she brought them to a dressing room and we went in. There were mirrors on opposite walls, and, of course, we looked in, but saw only one reflection.
The old woman gave a little gasp. She still wasn’t used to being old.
Editor’s note: We regret the original choice of photograph. It was meant to make you laugh along with the old woman. Don’t blame the poor writer. We are seeking a replacement. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org!