The portly gentleman in front of me at Rite Aid had a booming voice. His shopping basket contained two large bottles of Listerine and a box of Russell Stover chocolates.
“There’s no excuse for boredom, Genevieve,” he told the petite woman at his side.
“You just need to get busy. There’s no shortage of things to do in this world.”
I did a double-take and looked closely at the big man. In addition to his booming voice, he was possessed of a certain savoir-faire. Maybe it was the cut of his topcoat (cashmere?) or his meticulously clipped beard (Santa?) Perhaps it was his voice. In spite of the vocal volume, he spoke with a loving kindness that reminded me of Charles Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol. I fully expected him to say to his companion:
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present…look upon me!”
Hoping for some pearls of wisdom or at least a funny blog post, I stood perfectly still with my package of L’Oréal “Voluminous” mascara in my hand. I did not want to disturb this teachable moment.
Genevieve, similarly clad in a fashionable cloth coat, suede gloves, and a chic knit hat that approached a cloche, volleyed back at the man.
“Ted, you old fool, do tell me how to avoid this seasonal ennui.”
I looked out the Rite-Aid door and saw the night sky falling on Route 196. I’d never seen this couple before and I wondered if they’d stopped here on the way to more sophisticated realms or I’d walked into a time-traveling snow globe.
“There are belated Christmas cards to write, year-end charitable contributions to make, and last-minute parcels to mail,” Ted said.
“Then there are all those things you always say you will do when you have time. Why, my darling lady, you once told me you longed for retirement so you could scrub your kitchen floor with a toothbrush. Do you remember saying this, Genevieve?”
“Oh, Ted. I never said that.”
“Indeed, you did,” Ted said, dropping to a sotto voce speaking style.
“I’m sorry to be a killjoy, my lady, but I’ve noticed you spending far too much time with your electronic device,” Ted said.
Genevieve looked down guiltily.
Then jolly old Ted pulled out a crisp twenty-dollar bill and paid for his purchases. In the blink of an eye, he pocketed his change and whirled towards the automatic door, his companion Genevieve trailing alongside. Whoosh…and they were gone.
The whole experience was surreal and if someone told me I’d witness such a thing at my local Rite Aid I would have issued my own booming “Bah Humbug.”
And yet there it was. Redemption and wisdom at the local Rite Aid.
“But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—Happy Christmas to all, and to all good night.”
2019. Bring it!