Marilynn made the mistake of wearing a red T-shirt while shopping at Target with Sheila and we had an unexpected encounter!
For Those of you who don't know, all Target employees wear red T-shirts.
Marilynn usually has to protect Sheila when we shop at Market Basket because there are several very nice older gentlemen in their 80s and 90s who find Sheila very appealing.
One gentleman, recently widowed, wanted to take Sheila dancing, but she graciously declined, "My sister won't let me," she said.
This experience at Target was very different. We were asked for help in finding some items, and the gentleman who asked quickly realized his mistake. Our Producer, Bruce, likes to say that we are very good at engaging People, and we've found when we run into people in our age group, the 70s or older, there is a certain protocol that we all follow.
If the participants are senior citizens, it's alright to tell how old you are. That way, we can all congratulate each other on still being alive and able to shop at Target or Market Basket. Those shopping carts can be pretty heavy to push and a challenge to maneuver.
Next, we tell each other, "You don't look your age!" Often a guessing game is initiated if one of the participants hasn't already 'fessed up how old he or she is. Always guess a lesser age. It does wonders for the person's morale!
The next step is usually, "The Medical News." This is where participants casually mention hip replacements, knee operations, or a victory over an illness. Congratulations are voiced all around.
If you're wondering why some people share their medical victories with complete strangers, it's probably because their friends and family have already heard the stories several times, they have no one to talk to, or they just feel more comfortable talking to someone they will probably never see again.
At some point in the conversation, someone will ask us if we have a good recipe for chicken soup and matzo balls. This is a not so subtle attempt to determine our religious or ethnic background. If we find ourselves standing by the pasta department, there's a good chance someone will want our recipe for Bolognese Sauce, determined to find out if we're Italian. However, even though we're Jewish, we make a great Bolognese Sauce, go figure!
Once ethnicity is determined, there is usually an exchange of family history, which can be very interesting. Often we find we share distant relatives or come from the same region in the old country. It doesn't go quite as our father used to take it when he interrogated the men we dated to find out whether there had been a horse thief in their family. We once obtained a whole collection of handwritten Armenian recipes from a woman we met at Market Basket.
Of Course There Is A Caveat: We Suggest That You Be Very Careful About sharing Personal Information!
As for our conversation at Target, the gentleman in question had written a book about fundraising, and he generously gave us a tutorial near the plastic storage bins.
M. and S.