Overheard In January 2015


I was at Costco last week. It seems that I am always there even though I only shop there once or twice a month. I overheard the following and could not help but write it down:

“Every day when I get home I take the garbage out. But now, that is impossible. What will happen to the garbage?”

Now I want to know. What will happen to the garbage?


When my husband and I have a date night planned we will eat very inexpensive lunches together all week so that we can really splurge on our date night. It is actually fun. He makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We also like to eat at a certain fast food restaurant where we can get a Iarge unsweetened iced tea for a $1. I own stock in that fast food restaurant so I do not think it is appropriate to mention it here. Anyway my husband was running incredibly late for work after we stopped at the joint for lunch and I noticed after he went to work that he had left his iced tea on the night stand and I knew he would be so sad when he realized it.

In fact, an hour later he got to work and I received the following text:


Later that night he was still lamenting his loss and we had the following conversation:

“I didn’t drink my iced tea in unison,” I told him.

“You mean in solidarity,” he corrected.

“No. I mean in unison,” I stubbornly insisted.

“You can’t not do something in unison. You have to be doing something to do it in unison,” he was getting frustrated.

“I was doing something at the same time as you. Not drinking an iced tea… In unison,” I said.

“You can’t say that,” he laughed.

“I just did.”


I was in the alcohol section of the grocery store. A little girl of about four years old was skipping down the aisle behind her mother.

“Today is the funnest day!” She giggled.

“I thought you said Christmas was the funnest day,” the mom said.

“Well… every new day is fun,” the little girl said in a flabbergasted way. I wish I had that little girl’s spirit.


I was at a little grocery store. I was buying milk.

The young cashier held up the milk carton and laughed. He said, “I had a dream last night that I was craving milk. In my dream I started chugging it from the carton and it started spilling everywhere. And then I woke up.”

“Did you ever get any milk?”

“Oh yeah. I got up in the middle of the night and drank some. It was so good.”


My son said to me earlier this week, “Since there is extra small and extra large is there extra medium?”

“No,” I told him. “I never thought of that. It would be a good idea.”

“Yes. But since it could go either way there should be a small S on one side of the M and a small L on the other side and whichever it is should be in italics.” I think he might be on to something. I would love that.


I heard a preteen girl say to her father in a haughty voice, “Well then, you don’t sleep with the dead dog.”

And he did not correct her!

And now I want to know about the dead dog. And the bed.


I was at a park and I overheard a little girl say to her father, “Papa, I need you to smell something.”

He ignored her.

“Come on. I dare you. I dare you.”

Finally, he was worn down. He smelled what she was taunting him with. It was her hoodie. He looked up at her in confusion after smelling it.

She was waiting for that reaction. “Ha ha! It doesn’t smell like anything!”

I was amazed the dad actually smelled the hoodie. Any time anyone asks me to smell anything, I hold my breath and pretend to smell their item. You never know. Someone might be sleeping with their dead dog. Or not taking out the trash. Or drinking a gluttonous amount of milk. The possibilities make me shudder. Did you overhear anything good this month? Please share!

Overheard In November 2014


I was at the grocery store picking up my weekly stash. And by stash I mean shaved lunch meats. I have now taken to spoiling the kids with shaved ham and turkey from the deli and no sandwich can now be made with anything else. I don’t blame them. Shaved meat is the best.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Well, there was a man in front of me waiting for his sliced cheeses and it was a few days after Halloween. Next to him was another woman also in front of me (apparently I am slow on the draw) who was also waiting for some deli items. In her cart, a three year old little girl anxiously twisted in the uncomfortable metal seat.

The man smiled at her. “I bet I know what you were for Halloween,” he proclaimed.

The little girl shyly ducked her head.

“Were you Elsa?”

The little girl would not look up. Her mother answered for her. “Yes! She was!”

“I thought so,” said the man. “That is who my daughter was for Halloween, too.”

The woman working behind the counter at the deli piped up, “My granddaughter was Elsa, too.”

The man waited for the mother and daughter to leave before he told the woman the following story:

“My brother and his neighbors live on a cul-de-sac that gets tons of trick or treaters. They decided to play a drinking game. Every time they would see an Elsa, they would take a drink. He told me they had to quit after fifteen minutes because they were getting so drunk. Everyone was dressed up as Elsa.”

And now I want Halloween to happen all over again so I can play this game..


I was at the grocery store on a different day. Pretty much, if I am not at home, I am either waiting for the kids somewhere or at the grocery store. I only overheard one sentence of a conversation but it was very intriguing:

“Timothy asked me to pour his ashes in the propane tank.”


My husband and I were walking up to our favorite Cuban restaurant, outside an elderly couple was having a mild argument as they sat and sipped their coffee.

“You are always rewarding her bad behavior,” the woman said as her voice rose a little higher.

I thought in my head at that moment, I really, really did: So does my husband.

And right then, my husband turned to me and said, “sounds like me with you.”

We laughed over that and then went to eat breakfast.

Sometimes the truth doesn’t hurt.


I was at the grocery store. Again. Always.

I was loading my groceries onto the conveyor belt. An old woman in her mid-to-late eighties was ahead of me in line. Ninny Threadgoode could have been her twin. She was a frail little thing dressed in a gorgeous embroidered sweater (which I later complimented her on).

She peered over at me and asked, “Is that a baby in your cart?”

I looked to see what she could be talking about. It was my purse.

I smiled at her and said, “No. It is just my gigantic purse.”

She made a comment about needing to get her eyes checked.

On her side of the conveyor belt, loose fruits and vegetables rolled along with the movement. I had never seen anyone not put their fruits and vegetables in separate bags. She noticed me staring at her fruit.

“I have to buy organic,” she said. “It is the only thing that sits right with me. I always have been allergic to California.”

I liked that last line. I liked what she did next even better. Her and the checker were obviously acquainted from previous purchases. They began talking about how their lives were going. She told him that she was still dancing. And then she shuffled her feet and twirled her arms in a quick little jingle of movements. She swayed in place when she was done and I worried she might topple over, but she just grinned widely said good bye to all and made her merry way out of the store. I hope to be exactly like her, not when I am older, but right now.


“I swear I saw a black widow in my room the other night,” a young girl said to her grandparents over her panini.

She continued, “but then I realized it was just a daddy long legs.”

The grandfather scoffed, “They don’t look anything alike.”

“Yea. I know. Black Widows are thicker.”

“Did I ever tell you about the time I went with Steve over to Norman’s house?” The grandfather asked.

“Well, we were all sitting around the table watching Norman cook. He was going all out. And we were just watching. Just then Steve jabbed me and pointed to the curtains above Norman’s head. There, crawling down the curtain, was the biggest spider I had ever seen. It was one of those tarantulas. Well, neither one of us wanted to tell Norman. We didn’t want him feeling bad since he was cooking such a large meal. So, we just watched the spider climbing down the curtain getting closer and closer to Norman’s head.”

Here is where I need to pause this story. Aaaarrrrggghhhhhh! What? What etiquette book did they get that rule from? Please, if I am ever cooking a meal and a tarantula is about to crawl on.to.my.head., you may interrupt my cooking to let me know. I will not mind. I promise. This is a new edit to the etiquette book I am sure everyone will concur with.

Let’s continue:

“Norman’s wife noticed Steve and I just staring with our mouths open at the curtain. When she looked up, she saw the spider and started laughing. ‘Oh, that’s just Henry,’ she said. ‘He’s our pet. We let him loose around the house and he takes care of all of the flies.’ Can you believe that? They just had a pet tarantula wandering their house. I actually held him once. He was very tame. He didn’t even bite.”

Did you overhear anything good in November? Do you have a pet spider? Would you tell someone if a giant spider was about to crawl onto their head?

If you missed last month’s “Overheard In”, you can find it here.

Overheard In October 2014

I tend to gravitate towards the elderly. I feel like somehow our society has devalued the older generations and it should be the exact opposite. When I am out, I will usually watch them to see if they need anything or just for my own contentment. I have been thinking on this subject a lot this week, especially age discrimination. Not just discrimination against the elderly but teenagers, too. But that is a post for another day.

So, last month’s overheard in focused on one conversation that my husband and I had with an elderly gentleman. I still think about him often and I keep hoping I will run into him again. This month’s overheard in has a few conversations of the same type. Not moments that I was in but ones that I have overheard. If you ever want to really appreciate the wide expanse of our time here on Earth, go to Costco during lunch hour. Once there, you will see couples in their later years of life, widowers meeting, single people eating by themselves, mothers begging their children not to run around the huge stone pillars (which seems to be a travesty because the pillars seemed destined for such activities), sweaty workers relieved for an easy and quick meal to grab on their break, and business men in suits hoping for the same. It is as though the whole fluctuation of time and humanity is in that food court.


My husband and I were sitting in the food court at Costco. This seems to be a regular thing, but really it only happens about once or twice a month. I will sit and score us a table. He will stand in the line, order the food, get our drinks, and make his hot dog. I obviously have the better end of the deal. I will cut my slice of pizza in half and give it to him. He will let me eat as much of the frozen chocolate yogurt (with diet coke. Yum!) as I can muster before it becomes all his. I have a weird thing about sharing food and drink. As in, I don’t.

On this particular day, I sat with my back to the Costco exit. I never sit this way, because as I have said before, I like to see what people have purchased. My own cart was a mismatched sugar and flower paradise, just the way I like it. And I had it packed so full that the only way I could fit into that seat was to place my back against it so it would not roll away. The older man next to me promised me he would stop it with his foot if it started going.

Let us study him and his wife for a moment. They sat to my left and they were an elderly couple in their mid-eighties. He was small and thin. She was robust and had circular glasses. Her hair was still a sea of black with waves of grey breaking free only at the highest frothy peaks. To my right sat an older couple in their mid-seventies. Their body frames and body languages were almost identical. Tall and removed. In front of that couple, with his back to me, was a man in his eighties by himself. He had a wedding ring on his left hand. All five of them had large dark age spots covering their arms. And I began to wonder, when does this occur? Why don’t I know this? This is something that I should know.

All three men were wearing slacks. The women, beautiful patterned blouses. The woman on my left said to her husband, “Do you think we should go check? Do you think it’s ready yet?” And he in turned replied, “let’s give it a few more minutes.”

The couple on my right were having almost an identical conversation. About picking up prescriptions at Costco.

And you guys, you guys, let us all be so grateful for our health.

After a few more moments, the couple on my left decided that it was indeed time to check on their prescriptions. The couple on my right were more cautious, pessimistic, if you will. The man stood up and I turned to the woman and complimented her on her blouse. She smiled and thanked me. It was at this moment that the husband came around to help her from her seat. She could barely move. And the gesture of love just made my heart swell.

Not the helping her up, but the realization that her husband probably put that shirt on her that day. She could not put it on herself. So, without realizing it, I had given them both a compliment. And I felt like I had invaded an intimacy that was not mine to intrude upon. Because in the moment that his hand grasped her body to help it rise from the bench, unwittingly their whole morning flashed in a sequence before my eyes. The picking out of the blouse. The rising of her arms as he slipped it over her head. And then the same gesture that he was creating now as he eased her from their bed. It was beautiful. And heartbreaking. And pure.

I cast my eyes down as to not break their privacy any more than I all ready had.


Let’s move on to something funny. My husband and I were walking down the street in our town. We were headed to our favorite Cuban coffee shop.

As we were walking, two men in their mid-forties stood across the street. They were speaking very loudly to one another.

One of the men was built like a cut tulip on its third day of adjusting to a vase of water still shocked at the loss of firm ground caressing its now amputated roots. He was all round from his thin legs up with a point for a head.

His Boston accent rang through the morning air, “You wanna know my biggest fear?”

He did not wait for his companion, a nondescript man who was a blade of grass to the tulip, to answer.

“You win the Pennsylvania lottery and then you’re gone.”

My husband and I both turned and looked at each other with confused grins on our faces. It was such an odd thing to overhear on our small California street, especially in the morning before coffee. And not at night before wine.


One of the things my family loves to do is go to the bookstore together. There is nothing better than the smell of thousands of books joined together. Each so different that it would be like throwing together all of the world’s lovers and enemies into one room and instead of the loud clamoring one would expect, all that is heard is peaceful accepting silence. Each book wrapped up and secure with the knowledge of themselves.

Not everybody feels this way.


Because as my son and I were walking down an aisle, a man turned to his wife and began to complain about wanting to sit down.

This is what he said, “The only place to sit was by that chair.”

I did not comprehend the irony of his statement until my son turned to me with a huge grin and a twinkle in his eye. After the couple had left the aisle, he whispered to me, “Did that man just say what I think he said?”


I was at a grocery store a few weeks ago and I could not help but overhear a woman who was passing out samples to another woman. She kept repeating herself in different ways and I had to wonder what the younger woman thought of the stranger’s assessment of her health.

The woman in her twenties stopped to get a sample. The woman passing out the sample began to give a speech about the benefits of the sample for one’s health.

The woman said, “Maybe I should try this. I haven’t been feeling well.”

The lady replied, “You know, you do look a little funky.”

“I feel it.”

“You look really sick. I think you should go to the doctor. Get a Z-pack.”

I left before more medical advice was given, but I had to wonder how I would feel if someone told me I looked funky. To me, the woman looked completely normal. Maybe I don’t know what funky looks like. Maybe I look funky.

Maybe I need a Z-pack. Or a seat next to a chair. Or to play The Pennsylvania Lottery.

Did you overhear anything good or interesting this month? Please share. I’m all ears.

Overheard In September 2014


This is usually the monthly post in which I chronicle snippets of conversations I have overheard in the month (last month’s post can he found here). Today my post is going to be about just one conversation. It touched me. It deserved its own post and not to be scattered amongst sillier conversations.

The other day I went to Costco (it seems like every time I go there something profound happens). I had not gotten out much in the month of September due to me being a blubbering mess. But we were quickly running out of paper towels and toilet paper (see blubbering mess). I could live without those. But then we ran out of butter. And things got real. So we made our way to the human zoo.

I sat in the food court while my husband went to purchase our food. I am not going to lie. Part of the reason was to people watch and people listen. I sat down but quickly realized that my back was to the action. I got up and moved so that my back was against the wall and I settled down to watch the people coming in and out of Costco. I like to see what people have in their carts. The carts tell so much more about the person’s story than the person would probably ever tell you themselves. One time we saw a man come out with nothing but Sensodyne Toothpaste and a watermelon (now that is probably a fun story).

“I like to watch the people coming out of Costco, too,” a friendly gravelly voice said to me from my left.

I looked over and the robust elderly man sitting at the table next to me smiled.

“It always scares me to realize that these people could be a jury of my peers,” he continued. I laughed. I had never thought of who would be my jury before. I just assumed I would not get caught never do something to warrant a jury.

We spoke a little bit about that. About the weather. He informed me that he was going to turn eighty one in a few days.

“Eighty one just doesn’t have the same ring to it as eighty does,” he said. “I have been blessed with good health. I would love to live, with a good quality of life, mind you, to see ninety three so that I could watch my oldest great grandson graduate high school. Now wouldn’t that be something?”

It only occurred to me later, as I contemplated this conversation on the way home, that my grandmother also would have turned eighty one this year. I was all ready crying from what will come further down in the conversation, but that realization broke my heart a little more.

He spoke with great pride about his grandson, whom he was meeting later that day, because he was borrowing his truck. Without going into detail, the grandson is following his dream and will be making it a reality later this year.

Then he said, “My wife would have loved to see all of this. She passed away last June. We had been married for fifty eight years.”

My eyes filled with tears at the depth of love I could feel coming from the tremors of his voice.

He proceeded to tell me their love story. They had been happily married. Their home was full of books. “Over a thousand,” he said with pride, “and all of them, hers. Back in our day, women did not continue their education. It was her biggest regret. So, what she did not learn in a school, she taught herself in books. We had books by so many different philosophers. I cannot even pronounce some of their names.”

My husband had joined me at this point in the conversation. The man looked at us and asked if we were married (I had made meatloaf the night before and had forgotten to put my rings back on). We explained that we were and he said, “I hope that you two have the same longevity of love that my wife and I had.”

He continued, “My friend’s wife passed away a month before J. He is all ready dating. I could never date again. I am afraid no one will ever compare to J. She was beautiful, smart… She knew everything. I would never find someone as amazing as her. Would you like to see her picture?”

“Yes, of course,” my husband and I both said.

He fumbled in his wallet. He was grinning wildly at this point. “When you get to be my age, you can carry whatever picture you want in your wallet and nobody can tell you any different. This is the picture I choose to carry around.”

He pulled out a wallet-sized black and white laminated photo probably taken in the 1950s of a young woman in her early twenties. Her blonde hair was piled high atop her head in short curls. Luscious lips grinned into the camera. A voluptuous bosom spilled demurely from a satin dress. She was beautiful. Even though the picture was laminated, it was obviously handled a lot. I held it gingerly in my hands. You learn something every day. On this day I learned that an elderly man had been walking around my town with an old photo laminated in his wallet more cherished than any other possession. And now I was holding it. You learn something everyday and sometimes life gives you a gift. Having someone entrust you with their most sacred item is the biggest gift of all.

I handed the photo back to him.

“She was so beautiful,” I whispered to him through my tears.

We sat and listened to the man’s life story. It was impressive. We spoke to him for over an hour. He talked of buying a leather recliner at Costco when his wife got sick so that he could sleep by her side and be with her at every moment. He has not gone up to the second story in their home in years. There was no need, because his wife could not take the stairs. When she first got sick, he redid the entire downstairs with his best friend who was a contractor. It was a great surprise to his wife and she loved it.

He has continued to sleep in the recliner even after his wife’s passing.

“I do not think I will go back upstairs. I need to redo my bathroom downstairs and put a shower in it. If my friend were still alive, we could do it together.” Then he chuckled, “Of course, I would have to remember that he would be eighty one, too. I am not sure what kind of team we would make.”

I did not get the man’s name. He sat and enjoyed a hot dog. The only thing on the table that he had purchased from the store was a bag filled with prescription medication.

We stood up to say good bye, “come back any time. I have a room here. I’ll be here all week,” joked the man.

I swept him up in a hug. This is rather hard to do to a man much taller than yourself. He felt solid to my body. He felt soft to my soul.

I feel fuller from my meeting with the man. I had no idea that there was love like that in the world. So often you hear the stories of long marriages, but you do not know the quality of the life that they led. But this man and his wife… They had it. They found the magic and they kept it. Alive. Even after death.

We left and my husband whispered in my ear, “I love you that much.”

My heart overflowed. But now my thoughts are filled with an elderly man grieving. Sleeping in a leather recliner. In an empty house. Holding a photo. Taken so long ago.

It is a gift. And I want to share it. Spread the word. True love really exists. Magic really exists. And it can be found at Costco everywhere, if you take the time to listen.