This evening I ducked into a branch of my bank to deposit a check. An elderly lady was sitting there in the vestibule, perched on a broad windowsill, wearing one of those plastic head-wrap things that old ladies wear. She didn't seem likely to mug me or steal my PIN, so I didn't pay much attention to her; I figured she was just keeping out of the rain, maybe waiting for a ride or something. And then, just as I put my card into the ATM, she said, "Will I die like my sister did?"
Was she talking to me? Who knows. She didn't seem offended by my failure to respond, and she didn't repeat the question, so I figured it must have been rhetorical. Then, after a silence (save for the beeping from the ATM keypad as I entered my PIN), she added, in a mournful tone, "She was only 40 years old." If I thought she really wanted an answer, I might have pointed out that she's clearly got her sister beat by a few decades at this point. Instead, I pretended to be really, really focused on my transaction. And just as the machine returned my card, the woman (changing the topic?) said, "A negro homosexual..."
She trailed off there, and although I am sure the rest of that thought was worth hearing, I didn't stick around to find out. Now I'm wondering if perhaps she was some kind of oracle. A new service provided by my bank: sad old ladies will put your problems in perspective while you wait!
Speaking of the elderly (how's that for a disrespectful segue): tomorrow I am off to New Haven to celebrate the release of Choices & Milestones, the long-awaited anthology of LifeTales stories. I'll be reading from my story about Paul Press (which, I am tickled to note, is a cited source for the Wikipedia article about J. Press), and speaking a bit about my experience as an intern. And, consequently, probably not blogging. But when my life returns to normal, you will be the first to hear about it!