Wednesday, August 18, 2010


“My needs are few,” she said. “A warm hug, a little kiss, and some of that.” She pointed to the block of yellow cheese that was on sale.

It was, without any doubt, the only time I’ve heard someone, anyone, answer the question, “Can I help you?” in that manner. Apparently, it was the only time the deli counter staff heard that answer as well.

“Excuse me?” he asked, his eyes opening wide and his brows raising to emphasize his apparent confusion.

“I said, my needs are few,” she repeated. “A warm hug, a little kiss, and some of that.” Again, she pointed to the cheese, and added, “About a half pound, please.”

The confusion didn’t leave his face, but he picked up the block of cheese, turned around and placed it in the slicer. He turned back around, still looking confused, and asked, “A half pound?”

“Yes, please.”

He turned back to the slicer and began slicing. Exactly three-hundredths more of a half pound later, he handed her the wrapped cheese. “Anything else?” he asked.

“No, thank you,” she said. “That will do just fine.”

I finished my shopping and was about to pack the groceries in the car, when the young woman happened to stop at the car next to mine.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I couldn’t help but overhearing your answer at the deli counter and I was just wondering why you answered that way.”

“Oh that,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’m in a community theater and it’s one of my lines. But I keep getting it mixed up. Sometimes I say, ‘A warm kiss and little hug,’ or I might say, ‘A little warm hug and kiss me.’ I’ve just been having a time getting it right. So now, I say it, the right way, whenever the opportunity avails itself.”

“Do you get a lot of confused looks when you say it?” I asked.

“Tons. But that’s okay. I think I’ve finally got it right.”

“Well, good luck with your production,” I said. I drove away thinking of Martha Graham’s quote:

“Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”

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