Earlier this year, I was at the gym which has a pool on the roof surrounded by the city. Following my laps I decided to enjoy the view from the hot tub. In it were two bubbes – Jewish grandmothers – passing time before their water-aerobics class. I waded between them, said “hello,” and sat down. They both looked my way pleasantly, but I could tell my entrance had forced a lull in their conversation. Not having anything in particular to say, I asked “So, do you ladies mind is I take off my swimsuit?” One stared in disbelief. The other, smiled wryly, cocked her head and replied in a gravely voice, “I would prefer that.” Then she added, “But I don’t know if you really want to. You did just get out of the pool.”
I was between flights. Stuck in an airport. I was sitting in the black leather and aluminum chairs of the boarding area and watching the people around me. Nearby, there was a businesswoman using the delay to catch up on some work. She was professionally dressed and over-burdened with luggage, over-coat, purse, several briefcases, computer open and papers about. She was preparing for an impending presentation when a fit of coughing stole her focus. From briefcase number two, she pulled an unopened packet of mints. Stress Mints they were called – presumable for their calming effect. As she tried to get the box open, the wrapper got in her way. She tried using a fingernail but was unable to puncture the seal. Taking out a gold pen, she tried to lance through the plastic, but it only stretched until the packet jumped from her hand to the floor, landing under an adjacent chair. She retrieved it and seemed to be about to put it away- unopened, when she realized that the thick plastic wrapped around only four of the six sides and slid off like a ribbon. Moments later she slipped the fought-for prize into her mouth. She reread the name on the box and shook her head. She placed the box back in her briefcase and pulled out “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Everything’s Small Stuff.” I thought – that’s probably not going to work either.