Thursday, November 08, 2012

{the best thing i have ever witnessed or ever will witness, probably}

I don't overly enjoy grocery shopping.

I heard once that the handles of the shopping carts are germier than public toilet seats. Is that true? Do you think that's true? Because if it is, then the grocery store is just one huge bathroom, right? I mean, I'm not trying to be neurotic but...I just am.

And if you think about it long enough, you will be too.

But the point is not that. Not entirely, anyway.

The point is a little bit that, and a little bit other things.

It's the huge carts and the tiny aisles and the spending of so much money for one week's worth of food and the freezer section and the dumb magazines by the checkout. It's accidentally selecting the leaky milk jug and the carton with the broken egg, and it's forgetting to bring your cloth bags and that coupon for a free pack of yogurt that expired yesterday.

And still, I go. Obviously. Or else everyone in my household would die and that would ultimately be worse than grocery shopping, bacteria-ridden carts or no.

So it was that Monday afternoon found me at the grocery store pushing a full cart to my car and thinking, as usual, about germs. It was then that I witnessed the best thing I have ever witnessed, or ever will witness, I think.

There was an old man with a waxed moustache, white-haired and bespectacled and hunched, pushing his cart to his own car, as slowly and deliberately as if it were a cement block instead of milk and bread and eggs. A few steps back, just as carefully and painfully, an old woman with a cane and a small cloth bag made her way to her car. I saw him notice her, and I saw him smile. I thought that was cute.

And then, an amazing and magical and fantastic and beautiful and weird and awkward and sweet thing happened.

The old man began to sing. To the old woman. At the top of his lungs.

The song was  "Hello! Ma Baby", an old Tin Pan Alley song that I recognized from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. He belted out the first two lines before forgetting the words.

"Hello! Ma baby, hello! Ma honey, hello! ma ragtime girl; send me a kiss by wire, baby my heart's on fire!"

Here, he paused, turned, looked at her, one hand on his shopping cart. She blinked at him. He smiled broadly, considered, continued anyway.

"Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah! Blah blah blah blah blah blahhhhh--"

I stood there, just a few feet away, grinning like an idiot, both hands on my germy shopping cart. At this point, she must have realized that he didn't know any more of the words. She smiled at me, sheepishly. She leaned on her cane, she let the bag rest on the ground, and she started singing too, in harmony with his cheap scats.

"...Oh baby, telephone, and tell me I'm your oooooowwwwwwwwwwwwn!" 

My heart went off like fireworks.

There was a moment of silence then. She picked up her cloth bag. He nodded. "That was wonderful," he said. "You have a beautiful voice."

"Well. I know I shouldn't quit my day job," she said quietly. I think that was a joke, because she looked too old to have a day job.

I, the only audience they had in the empty parking lot, clapped for them. Then we all loaded our groceries into our separate cars and, presumably, went home.

Best grocery shopping trip ever.

33 comments:

  1. I love this story, just love it. That is truly the most wonderful thing to happen at a grocery store.
    I have the same issues with grocery shopping. I actually bring a little pack of clorox wipes in my purse to wipe the handle down and then slather my hands in antibacterial juice after.
    This story truly reminded of my grandfather, he just passed away this past spring from Kidney cancer, very suddenly and sadly. I miss him everyday, but find joy in the memories of his goofy funny ways. He sang to my grandmother every morning "There she is, Ms. America" at the top of his lungs. He would burst out in song whenever the mood struck him regardless of how embarrassed we might be. He loved my grandmother more than anything in this world and always told people and her how beautiful she was.
    Thank you so much for sharing this story, it made me feel close to my GP once again.

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    1. aw!! that's so precious. grandparents are so precious. aw garsh.

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  2. People our age should flirt like that. That is awesome.

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    1. FOR REAL. hey guys: instead of hollering weird and creepy things out the window of your dirty pick-up truck...

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  3. :D That is so cute!

    I once saw a design for a door for public toilets that was just filled with door handles from top to bottom. The idea was that chances are smaller that everyone is using the same door handle, so less bacteria per handle. I thought is was funny and smart.
    Also, I once did a biology test in which I needed to witness bacteria grow in a petri dish. The only thing I remember; I never saw that school keyboard (which we used for our test) in the same light.

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    1. haha! that door design is fantastic. i've been thinking about which handle i would use. probably the second in from the bottom right.

      also: my fear of germs also began with a test like that! we grew bacteria from a bathroom door--AFTER washing our hands with soap. oh the things that stuck around...

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  4. omgggggg. most. adorable. thing. ever. :)

    xx, kara

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  5. That is fabulous, I love it! I would have applauded too.

    Lily-thinking thoughts

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    1. i wish there'd be more of an audience there. it was a sweet performance...

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  6. My heart just grew ten sizes.

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    1. oh man. mine does too every time i think about it. how perfect. i hope he finds her again and proposes.

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  7. This is possibly the cutest story I have ever heard in my whole life! Ahhh! Old people are just adorable.

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  8. Seriously?! Are you you joking?! How do all the incredible, unbelievable things happen to you? I would have loved to see that. And I thought you loved grocery shopping?

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    1. might i point out that this incredible, unbelievable thing did not happen to ME. there is a sweet old lady out there somewhere who owns this story. sigh. to be her at that moment!!

      i like grocery shopping ok if barclay's with me. but by myself i'm falling out of love with it... :)

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  9. I think that is the best thing ANYONE has ever witnessed!!! That story made my day!

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    1. haha, i'm glad! it made my month. :)

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  10. That's so sweet. My grandfather passed away over 12 years ago and I always wish my grams would find a nice gentleman friend. And I hope he flirts with her like this.

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    1. aw, for real. can you imagine her telling that story around the dinner table?

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  11. This is the best. I mean, I've only read it & not witnessed it, but I can't imagine how much more amazing it would have been in the flesh.

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    1. it was! it was fantastic. all day i just wanted it to happen again.

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  12. That is the best, most amazing, sweetest, most wonderful thing I've ever heard! Totally made my day! Wish I could have seen it in person!

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    1. i wish you could've too! i didn't think to pull out my iphone and take video till it was just barely too late... sigh.

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