In summer, company finds us, as we jostle for spots by the pool, or at the beach, or at those free outdoor concerts.
Not now though; now we need interaction – and I feel lucky as far as that goes: In the last 24 hours I’ve had no fewer than four cheerful exchanges with people.
The first came at the supermarket, when I found myself standing before a glistening display of cut-up butternut squash.
“You have to be careful with squash when it’s cut like this,” I said to the woman already studying them. “It tends to get really…”
“SLIMEY!” she shouted. Only she pronounced it “Slim-eh,” and we both laughed at what slow learners we have been, still buying the cut-up stuff instead of just going with the whole shapely vegetable, packaged the way Nature intended.
The second came just three hours later, as I listened to a man telling me that mine was a great little car, really; that I could get another 200,000 miles out of her, easy. The only problem was he said this while dragging my supposedly great little car behind his big tow truck because it had, yet again, died on me. What a good soul, trying to cheer me up like that!
Then¸ when he dropped me at my service station, I had my third pleasant exchange, which took place when I related to my mechanic what my towing friend had told me.
“He said I could keep her going ‘til the 300,000 mile mark,” I said.
“God, you don’t want to do that!” he shot back – even though “doing that” would surely make him some pretty good money as the car continued its drama-tinged decline.
Finally, carless, I walked to the drugstore, arriving just in time to see a young mother stepping away from the pharmacist’s window, prescription in hand.
With one motion she clapped her phone to her ear and began talking fast.
“Well, we saw the doctor. She says he has pinworm. Pinworm!”
A silence, as she listened.
“I know, right?! AND, she says the rest of us probably have it too!”
I tried not to hear this, a diagnosis with the word ‘worm’ in it, but she was talking in such a plain bold voice.
She looked at me and silently rolled her eyes while shaking her head, in that classic ‘Do you believe this?” way, with a chaser of “What are you gonna do?” thrown in for good measure.
It was just the look you would have if you were faced with pinworm, whose two chief symptoms are (1) mad itching of a particular kind and (2) a marked restlessness as you attempt to escape your own skin.
But what are you gonna do? You can’t escape your skin any more than you can escape winter. All you can do is stay cheerful and stay connected to every fellow sufferer out there. Now when’s that next party again?