Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Everything is better with a poem

In response to several readers' requests, I asked the poet busker and the butter merchant for permission to publish the poem written by the poet for the merchant at the Farmers Market. (See post from July 28. ) I don't have to tell you his answer:


Distill from that life giving
substance, the essence of all
things flavorful and wholesome

Bring forth the force of other
fields and weave a tapestry
for the palate, eyes one can
only see with from inside

To each dish a special form,
to each viewer a special meaning
this is, of course, the
foundation of art, the spice
of life in food

C. Stavney

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Echos of the Past

Written July 28, 2019 
This won't be news to anyone who's read my blog for a couple years: I am enamored of a particular busker who sits at his portable typewriter and composes poems on the spot, on the whim of the requester, based on any idea, word, or concept offered. In addition to being enamored, I am awed, inspired, impressed and just plain grateful to be acquainted with such a talented person.

This past Sunday, much to my delight and surprise, I ran into C. Stavney, the "busker-poet"at the Lake Forest Park Farmers Market. I hadn't seen Mr. Stavney for more than a year, but I've thought about him consistently when visiting the market. I'd pretty much given up any hope he'd return to the market since he was last there over a year ago. After all, he had finished up his English Degree from the University of Washington, had a full time job in Bellevue and, presumably, a 'life,' as well.

After smiles of delight and general chit-chat, I asked for a poem. Topic?  Two acquaintances encounter each other unexpectedly after more than a year

When he is done tapping out the poem, he pulls the paper out of the typewriter, signs it, snaps a photo of it, then folds it in half and hands it over.  I usually wait to read the poem until I'm home, or--at least--in my car, because my hands are full with purchased produce and flowers. As I walked away from Mr. Stavney's perch, situated between a honey table and a produce grower and across from a merchant who sells flavored butters, the butter merchant beckoned to me.

"Hey, how much do you pay that guy for a poem?" he asked. 

"Whatever feels right," I said and continued. "I'm such a fan, I try to be generous, but I've heard him tell people the poem is free if they can't pay, or if they don't like what he's written. Personally, I try to be generous because it's amazing to suggest a topic and watch him tap out an original poem within minutes to hand it over."  Suddenly inspired, I asked the butter-merchant, "Would you like to hear my poem?"

"Yes, sure!" he replied enthusiastically.  I opened the folded paper, explained what I'd asked the poet to write about, and then read it aloud to the two of us, noting that it was the first time hearing it for me, too.

"Wow," said the butter merchant now grinning broadly. "Do you think he'd write a poem about butter?" I nodded yes. "Then I'm going to ask him to write a poem about butter and then set it out where my customers can read it."  I refolded my poem and tucked it into my produce bag, agreeing with the merchant it was a great idea.

I can hardly wait for next Sunday to read a poem about butter!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Farewell, my Macy's and other shops

One of Seattle's oldest shopping centers (and the first enclosed mall in the U.S.) is undergoing a redo, which involves closing most all of its inside-facing shops. Macy and J.C. Penney, along with many more stores, have already left the Northgate Shopping Center, and other personal favorites like Nordstrom, the Loft, and Gap will be gone by the end of the month. Northgate is being developed into the Pacific Northwest home of the National Hockey League, complete with a hockey rink and training facility for a team Seattle has yet to procure.

Loft Mannequins
stand around bored
Eventually some of the stores will return with a reduced footprint, small specialty shops will arrive, and housing will become incorporated into the complex. But for the past three months, stores have been disappearing like melting ice. Northgate is now a mere shadow of its illustrious past. And that makes me nostalgic.

Peeking into empty Macy
When I arrived Monday morning for a quick errand, I was startled to see that the M and Y of Macy had already been removed from the side of the building. Macy's last day was just the Sunday before! When I returned to my car less than half-an-hour later, all traces of the store's name were totally gone, as were the man and the ladder.

Eddie Bauer clerk
is also idle
The Loft was down to four racks of drastically reduced clothing, and its unclothed mannequins were tagged for sale. Eddie Bauer had two tables by the front door touting 70 percent off last sale price and one solitary clerk who looked lonely and bored to death for lack of bustle.

Looking through Macy's locked doors made me sad. Once a store I complained about--for being so jammed with inventory it was hard to pull an item off the rack--is now a totally empty of merchandise, a ghost store.

I will miss the ease of dashing through a medium-sized mall. Now I will need to visit the local "mega-mall" to shop at Penney's, Macy's and smaller favorites. Just parking there adds ten minutes to the errand. I'll need a half-day just to run little errands (like replacing socks or a colander) that I could have accomplished at Northgate in an hour. I don't mean to glorify the "olden days," but mall shopping sure was easier.  

Saturday, July 20, 2019

How to achieve an EXCEPTIONALLY worthwhile life

If, in fact, “the unexamined life is not worth living”—thank you, Socrates—then my life today must qualify as exceptionally worthwhile!

I’m re-reading letters written to friends long ago, retained by the recipients and returned to me years later.  I have two sources: ten-or-more years ago Margaret, whose acquaintance I made at my first job after college, returned letters I’d written to her in the ‘60s after she and her family moved to southwestern Washington; recently Tony, the son of my dear, deceased-friend Karen, sent me the letters I wrote his mom in the ‘70s after my family and I moved to Wisconsin. 
I also have a few taped memories: some are letters, retrieved in the ‘90s after my mother-in-law died, dictated on the then ‘newfangled’ portable tape cassette player; others are narratives made on a reel-to-reel machine and were transferred to a thumb drive (although much of the content is inaudible) in 2018. One of those reels contains Jay’s practice-session for a TV host job interview in the early 1960s and my critique of it. Both were excruciating to hear fifty-five years later.

Needless to say, I am reading and hearing things I had completely forgotten: depictions of family harmony and conflict, mother angst and worry, anecdotal joy and concern from high school through widowhood.

To this odd time-capsule comprising one-off narratives, then add a lifetime of hobby writing. Two weeks ago I had FedEx print out four hundred pages (just a start) of personal essays, poetry, and short-fiction pieces I’ve written, reaching back as far as the ‘50s. No wonder I feel bogged down in terms of my everyday, household routines. 

Reading over these pieces about both my families (one of origin and one of choice), relationships and friends, anecdotes and events, triumphs and disappointments, has created a very self-centered person for the moment. Silly things, sad things, and bad things in my life are depicted and have settled into the forefront of my thoughts. It’s all I can do to look up and look out . . .  beyond the me who has created all this.

I know—as most of us do—it’s only natural, while on a long road trip, to pull out the map to see  how far we’ve come. What started out as an unmapped journey can be traced by looking back, and it’s satisfying to see those long miles highlighted along the way—be they interstate highways or back roads. This look-back on life through memoir is like that, and it’s probably a good thing. But it feels almost incestuous to be so preoccupied with myself after thinking I was living as much for others as myself. If it weren’t for Socrates’s almost clich├ęd dictum, I might feel very guilty about the self-centered aspect of this experience. Yes, I know he was talking about philosophical examination, but I’m choosing to take the quote literally. Thus, you could say I’m just making my 'almost twenty-nine thousand days' worth living.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Jarring juxtaposition awakens a memory

Milwaukee Sentinel November 8, 1980
 Milwaukee Sentinel  
Recently I 'Googled' myself--that is to say, I put my name into a search engine just to see what would surface. About a dozen hits--mostly because of this blog and several links to my published articles online, plus some volunteer connections and donations made public by various non-profits I support. Nothing too surprising except for this: "Sara Glerum, Wauwatosa, Wis, Finds Bible Inaccurate."

Well, that got my attention!  I immediately clicked the link and rediscovered a letter I'd written published in the Milwaukee Sentinel on November 8, 1980, entitled 'The Value of Life.' The letter summary of someone else's letter was adjacent to my name, thus confusion of erroneously associating my name with that other letter (I added the big X for clarity's sake). Click on the link below the clip here:
Rereading what I had written The Sentinel in 1980 took me back to how indignant I had been at a front page story the newspaper had just published. But I'd also forgotten how thirty-two years later in 2012 I received my first-ever "Private Message" on Facebook. It was from a woman named Deanna--a total stranger to me. She explained that friend, Beth Umolac, was the woman who had been murdered in 1980, and how she, Deanna, was willing to keep on looking for the right Sara Glerum to thank, if I wasn't the  one.

I'd all but forgotten how hearing from Deanna made me feel then--sad, of course, remembering the story of a murder, but also gratified because apparently my letter had made Deanna feel a tiny bit better. I was incredibly touched that after more than thirty years, she was still wanting to thank me. That she searched me out and found me still strikes me a beautiful gesture and proves the adage, "What goes around, comes around."

I've written posts on this blog about people from my past finding me because of something I'd written on it, and it never fails to thrill me when a connection is made this way. Meanwhile, I do encourage my readers to 'Google' yourselves, and you might find yourself recalling things you'd all but forgotten. And besides, it doesn't hurt to know what's out there floating around with your name attached.  

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Color spots (and more) connect the dots

A recent road trip to Westport, Washington, with my long-time friend, Lucy, brought back memories and plenty of nostalgia. There's too much to say in a short post, so I'll start with sights and sounds and smells.

Colors: Certain colors are so specific to locale, such as the yellow of blooming Scotch broom in and about the dunes. Yes, I know it's an invasive plant and I should detest it, but I can't help loving the way it looks in contrast to the prevailing beach grass and pine.

Likewise, the purple of wild lupine scattered among the tall hay-colored grass reminds me of children peeking out from behind curtains--imagining they aren't seen by anyone. Golden and pink highlights accent rolling clouds as the sun sinks low in the sky. And then there's the biggest expanse of blue I've seen in years! Something about standing on the beach without skyscrapers (even three-story apartment buildings) or tall trees delivers a message about our human insignificance that becomes freeing. Nowhere else on earth can provide such a breathtaking glimpse of sky as an undeveloped ocean shore.

Sounds: The ocean's steady roar (maybe closer to a loud hum in summertime) is a sound I'd all but forgotten . . . until I heard it again. The foghorn (far away on buoys) is the oboe of an orchestra, periodically tuning up the instruments for the concert--gulls, other birdsong, and the steady din of waves breaking.

Smells: The sea. The salt. The seaweed. The wind (light but always there for those three days of June) makes it impossible to escape the pure ambrosia of locale-specific scents.

Only at the extreme western edge of a continent can the shadows get this long. And for me, the shadows also were mental and emotional--recollections of many visits to this beloved spot.

Lucy and I both agreed that this visit couldn't have been better, even if it had been (we wished) longer.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Word Play

If you look it up in the dictionary, the word means a number of things, all bad. 

Lately when I hear the word or say the word, I feel happy. Contented. Fulfilled. Hm-m-m. What's that about! 

It was a secret while her parents and I discussed it. Then we agreed we could make it work (school in Canada goes till the end of June).

Then it was a birthday gift announced over the long-distance phone call. The call was pretty spectacular, if I do say so.

Then there was a month of eager anticipation on both sides of the border. And, finally, it happened! 

Her mom brought her to Seattle; she and I went to the national tour of Wicked; and everything we felt afterwards was anything but the meaning of word. 

Go figure! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

My New Love

I just returned from a short music-and-art trip to Los Angeles with fifty other people, most of whom were seventy-plus years old and . . . tah-dah . . . I have an announcement:  

I'm in love . . .

with a performer! His name is Conrad Tao and he’s twenty-five years old. I returned from my trip last night, unpacked, ate a frozen dinner, watched a couple of pre-recorded TV shows, then fell into my own bed to sleep nine hours. When awoke, I lay there for a while, reflecting on the delicious jam-packed trip with three-full days of art and music in the company of many fascinating and nice people—led by a gracious and delightful tour leader, Norm Hollingshead. But my thoughts quickly turned to Conrad Tao, so over my morning coffee I reached for my iPad. 

Subsequently, I’ve spent much of the morning, between loads of laundry and breakfast, sobbing in front of my iPad as I watched him perform his musical enchantment close-up.Those tears have made me feel like a thirteen-year-old again, springing from the same passion I felt in eighth grade when, for the very first time, I grasped how the performance of music, with its fusing talent, technique, intellect, and emotion, turns into something greater than the parts. Apparently when an artist touches that chord in me, that soft spot, I fall in love . . . and cry.

My love back then was Pablo Casals—an old man of eighty—triggering emotions in me that had never been tapped. It was his visceral reading of the music in which he occasionally, audibly expressed his emotions as he played his cello that got to me. I knew him only from his recordings (in the days before Internet), but he could be heard sometimes humming over the music, spontaneously joining his cello's [and his chamber-music colleagues in their] execution of Schubert, Dvorak, Schumann, and Bach. That sound—an old man’s involuntary surge of vocalization—prompted my own emotional response (yes, the same as today, sobbing through the music), and I became his lifelong fan. 

Not surprisingly, few peers back then shared my adoration. Maybe no one else reacts that way, but there's a trigger point for me in terms of emotional override. Over the years I’ve felt similarly about other cellists—Yo Yo Ma, and more recently Joshua Roman. But this is the first pianist who's generated that feeling in all my seventy-nine years!

Watch his performance filmed in a special studio by New York’s WQXR on www.conrad.tao.com. Listen to his interview, as well. Not only is he a spectacular musician (both pianist and composer), but like Casals, his body emulates the music as he executes the work. I love that he’s barely begun his career at age twenty five. Not only is he a pianist, he’s also a composer, and . . ..  I’ll stop lest I embarrass myself with too much raving. 

See and listen for yourself. Ironically, when I booked the trip with Norm Hollingshead’s Opera Plus Tours, we were going to hear Lang Lang perform Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. But Lang Lang’s tendinitis prompted a replacement for that work and Conrad Tao was the artist chosen for the honor. What a serendipitous event!

Monday, April 29, 2019


What's fifty-seven years old, holds soup to nuts and everything in between while maintaining the versatility to become a toy, musical instrument, and even part of a costume?

When I received this set of mixing bowls at my bridal shower hosted by my mother's best friend in 1962, little did I expect they'd be a mainstay of my kitchen these sixty years later. As I chilled hard-boiled eggs before Easter this year, I realized what an amazing gift the bowls had been. At the time, I was unimpressed. Stainless mixing bowls?  Too practical to be exciting.

Within the first couple of years of my marriage and its subsequent arrival of babies, I became deeply appreciative of them, however. My toddler children played with them endlessly, inevitably discovering them in the one low kitchen cupboard that didn't have a child-proof lock on it. Stacking them was a source of endless delight--and the ringing of the steel as the bowls bounced off each other is also really fun sound when you're under two.

I've soaked beans in them and whipped up everything you could imagine from waffles, muffins, dips and granola, egg salad and jello. I've tinted frostings, cooled soups, and prepared and served endless offerings of salad and fruits in them. They've been used for water-play in the backyard, worn as hats in neighborhood parades, and been beaten with spoons for in-house celebrations. And every time I reach for one, I think of Harriette McLean, my mother's life-long friend who gave them to me so long ago. Thanks, Aunt Harriette. You sure knew how to pick a useful and lasting gift.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Walking along the local bike/foot trail, I noticed this reflection in a puddle.

The universe, or at least a teeny overhead bite, was staring back at me from the ground. Of course, I had to pull out my phone and snap a picture . . . and just to make sure I'd know what I was looking at, I intentionally included my foot.

Black and white photos are fun to take on a whim. Only a decade ago, I would have been carrying a camera with film in it. There certainly was no way to decide to take a b&w photo if colored film was loaded, and vice-versa. Ah, the modern world.

Despite the poor reproduction of these shots (not enough pixels, perhaps?) I like the idea of looking down to see what's above.

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Guaranteed Unanswerable Question

"How's everybody doing," asks my fitness instructor as she looks out over her class of twenty-five sweating participants. I can't count the number of times I've heard that asked of a group and how many times the questioner looks disappointed because of the ensuing non-response.

It's the kind of question that is all too often asked of people in any type of group activity. "How's everybody with the room temperature?" How can anybody answer that question. I don't know how everybody feels! I can only respond for myself.

 Much more answerable would be "Should I bring out the fans?" and the answer could communicated easily in the form of an audible YES or NO from individual participants. The answer to "How are you doing?" could be answered with an audible OK or thumbs up (or thumbs down, too) from most people in the group.

A lot of questions are unanswerable: Is there life after death? Are human rights intrinsic? Will the United States survive to celebrate its 300th birthday? But one unanswerable question becomes answerable with a tiny word-choice change. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A rose by any other name . . .

A recent anthology of essays, poems, and even a couple of short plays includes several items authored by me. As anyone who writes and submits their work knows, it can be terrifying to let someone putting a book together read previously non-critiqued work. Once the author sends off the submission, a storm of insecurity blows back hard, so it's all the more exciting when the word "acceptance" appears in the eventual response.

In December 2017 I submitted several poems and essays in response to a call by Elizabeth Coplan for short works on the topic of death and grief. In July 2018 I, along with sixty others heard good news. Acceptance! The book was rushed into print so it could be unveiled at the Reimagine End of Life week in NYC in late October, so not surprisingly, there were some typos and copy editing oversights in it. We all have experienced fallout from needing to accelerate a project too quickly.

After itemizing the small errors in my work and receiving confirmation changes had been made, I was confident in the revised first-edition, which was issued in late January. I was taken aback by the appearance of the same mistakes in the revision. But . . . I'm a big girl. I got over it.

Since 1990 I've been published in the following local outlets: Seattle Times, Prime Time, The Stranger, Eastside Journal, and University of Washington Alumni Travel Association, as well as a 2010 anthology by Nancy Worssam, In Our Prime: Empowering Essays by Women on Love, Family, Career, Aging, and Just CopingWith one exception, all that published work (multiple pieces in several of the outlets) had the correct attribution: Sara J. Glerum, my legal name. The Seattle Times published one of my travel pieces with lower-case j. as my middle initial, which annoyed me at the time. Probably no one notices but the author, but it's cringe-worthy to see myself in one volume as the following: Sarah Glerum (h and no middle initial), Sara Glerum (no middle initial), Sara J Glerum (no period after the J), as well as the 'real me,' Sara J. Glerum. 

BUT . . . even with the "h" and no middle initial, I'm still happy to be in Grief Dialogues: Stories on Love and Loss, especially when I learned the book has been nominated for a Northwest Booksellers' Award because of its purpose. As you can probably guess, it's intended to help demystify death by talking about the one event in life we are guaranteed to experience. I'm proud to be part of the movement and the anthology.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Why the Y? Let me count the ways . . .

I'm going to tout the YMCA's good work for a moment. Yes, you've heard me before on the topic; it's a passion of mine. If you have a Y in your neighborhood or community, I'm guessing it has a fund drive going on now (and it most certainly does if you live in the Greater Seattle area). If you like the idea of helping an organization that helps people get healthier--youth, children, adults of all ages, including people my age (old), please consider making a gift.

The Y is a non-profit organization that quietly gives back to its communities. It is much broader now than it was 165 years ago when it was founded, but its generous reason for being is the same. However, you don't need to be young or Christian or male to participate. Nowadays the YMCA is as inclusive an organization as exists anywhere in the world.

Many of its programs are offered at no charge to anyone who needs them. Cancer survivors can participate in a twelve week LiveStrong program, families with children struggling with obesity referred by their physicians or school nurses can participate in a program designed to change eating and exercise habits for the whole family, also a twelve week program. Y memberships for the entire family at zero cost to them are included with both programs, and they are just two of many the healthy-living programs available to members and community.

Financial help and scholarships abound, and that's the main reason for our fund drive. Everyone knows about the Y summer camps, and many have heard of teen leadership program in which teens in grades 8-12 learn about, and engage, with the legislative process. But lots happens behind the scenes. For instance, my branch partners with the local school district to send teens who qualify for lunch subsidies home with backpacks filled with fresh produce and healthy snacks for weekends. Another generous thing my Y does is to have "women-only nights" so that women with faith-based reasons for not swimming or exercising in mixed company can utilize the Y's facilities.

A gift to my branch of the Y will actually allow almost 2,500 people to access programs, including before and after school care for kids.  If you don't want to donate to my YMCA, how about donating to yours?  It's a great organization.

But . . . if you want to help my fundraising efforts (I've committed to raising $3,000), just click the link that follows. You can make your gift here and every little bit helps. And a lot of people will join me in saying thank you. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Deserved Customer Loyalty

The picture says it all. Yesterday I heard a funny clicking coming from my car's back right tire as I slowly drove through my 10 MPH street. As I gained speed on the  major road, I didn't hear anything, so I stopped worrying. I was running several errands on my way to my favorite local bookstore and stopped at the post office to mail an over-sized envelope. When I returned to my car, I noticed the head of a large bolt stuck in the tread of the rear-right tire. (Oh, how I wish I had taken a photo of it.) Aha! That was the source of the sound I heard. My dashboard low-tire icon was NOT lit . . . but nevertheless, Les Schwab Tires was on my way, so I pulled into its parking lot.

The service person, who had rushed out to greet me while I was just pulling in, asked me how he could help. After locating the bolt, he told me he would extract it, then check to see if the tire was losing any air. "Looks promising--it likely hasn't punctured the tire, but don't worry, M'am. We won't let you leave until we know the tire is OK or repaired."

It did lose air when the bolt was extracted, and within half-hour, at NO CHARGE to me, the tire was repaired. As a person who is consistently timid about car malfunctions, I couldn't have been more relieved or happier.

Thank you, Les Schwab Tires! If only every merchant were as smartly run--understanding that helping with something little gains fierce customer loyalty--the world would be a better place. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Family resemblance

Standing behind an older man in the Express Checkout lane of my local supermarket, I was relieved to see he only had few Sumo Mandarin oranges and a box of coffee filters. As I unloaded my several items, I overheard this:

Clerk: These are sure ugly with all those wrinkles, but they're sure delicious.

Customer:  Yup.

Me:  (silently)  Just like me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Jep's Chef House Now Occupies Preservation Kitchen

SAD but TRUE . . . Jep's Chef House has closed for good. Obviously, I couldn't save it with this blog.  sg

For many years a restaurant near my home (and the only one within easy walking distance to me) has been a delightful source of food, drink, and ambiance. The restaurant location was once the home of mid-century mayor of Bothell, Charles Kaysner, so patrons were eating in an historic house built in the first third of the twentieth century.

In the 1980s and '90s, the location housed what was considered one of the best French restaurant in Greater Seattle and whose chef had a fantastically equipped commercial kitchen added to the house. When the chef retired, the historic house with its famous kitchen was sold to a new owner . . . and sold again . . . and eventually was bought by a family who'd successfully run other restaurants. They named their newest endeavor Preservation Kitchen because the kitchen was so amazing, it deserved to be preserved.

Recently they have retired and leased the establishment to a new owner who is calling the restaurant Jep's Chef House. However, all the locals are so accustomed to calling the location Preservation Kitchen, few can remember the new restaurant's name. Inevitably, a person wanting to call about hours or make a reservation resorts to the the Internet to search for Preservation Kitchen,  only to come up with this message: CLOSED.

Needless to say, this isn't doing much for the new restaurant at the old location, Jep's Chef House.

I'm writing this commentary for one reason only: to help Jep's Chef House get established--to help people poking around on the Internet to find the name of the new restaurant at the old location.

The Kaysner House is far too wonderful for the newest entrepreneur at the venue to fail. The food at Jep's Chef House is delicious (don't miss the Lemon Souffle on the dessert menu) and the ambiance is delightful.  Imagine, restaurant where you can actually have a conversation without shouting! Eating there, whether in the fireplace front-room, or the cozy informal dining room doesn't cost a fortune, either. Let's give Jep's Chef House a chance to survive.  No one wants the restaurant at that location of fade out of existence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

An Old Woman Learns Her Lesson

If you're my age (78) or, at least, in the same age bracket (65+), you've no doubt heard your peers rant about the pitiful behavior of youths who are overly absorbed in their cell phones. "They never look up . . . never interact . . . never hear anything," etc.  It can get tiresome.

Recently I attended an early-evening meeting and was driving by a local favorite hamburger joint when I realized two things: I was hungry and had nothing at home I wanted to eat. Aha, I thought . . . I'll get a Ranch-burger for dinner--Yum! It was well after 7 p.m. and the joint was pretty much packed with high-school kids. Instantly realizing I was the oldest one in the place, I jestingly asked the sixteen-year-old order-taker if it was OK to eat in, or if I'd put a damper on the "party." She smiled good naturedly and assured me it was OK to stay. I ordered a burger and (ah, heck, why not) a shake. She took my money, gave me a number, and said it would be a ten minute wait.

I chose one of two empty booths near the door. Everything else was occupied--some by groups of like-gendered friends, others by boys and girls together. I felt self-conscious because I was at least fifty years older than anyone on the premises, including management. Wanting to occupy myself while I waited (I didn't want to be perceived as staring at the kids as they laughed and chatted with each other), I decided to check my cell phone for messages. After all, I'd been in a meeting with my phone silenced, and there was bound to be some stuff to read. Sure enough . . . and my favorite word game app beckoned, as well.

Somewhere in the ruckus of chatter I was dimly aware of an echoing vocal phrase. After four or five repetitions, I looked up. A young man with a tray was pacing the restaurant calling out a number. Yes, it was my number! I raised my hand and he came hurrying to  my table. As I pocketed my phone I quipped, "Well . . . I guess I'll never be able to complain about how young people are too absorbed in their phones." The look he gave me was hilarious. He must have been thinking the exact same thing. He mumbled, 'Yeah, guess not,' and left my table grinning from ear to ear.

Reader, please hold me to it: I promise never to complain about young people lost in their cell phones!