Sunday morning, I stopped at Starbucks on my way to meeting, and found myself on line behind a small girl, holding her father’s hand. I had noticed them in the parking lot, as I pulled in, because of their bright colors. He was wearing an orange t-shirt with his jeans, and she was wearing an aqua sweatshirt and a pink hat, of the style known to hat people as a trilby.
So, I’m standing in line behind this little girl, and I’m looking down on her pink hat, with her blond curls spilling out from under the bucket of her hat, just reaching the aqua sweatshirt, and just when I’m thinking it couldn’t get any prettier, she turns around and looks at me, soft, round face and light-colored eyes.
So I say, “I like your hat.”
“I like to wear hats, too.” (I’m wearing a baseball cap this morning, the one with the rude comment about cancer on the front, so I am glad she probably cannot read.)
She says, “I’m four.”
“I’m fifty-six.” Pause. “What kind of coffee are you getting?”
She giggles, and tells me she isn’t getting coffee, then turns as the line advances, and starts showing the girl at the cash register the greeting card that she and her father had just bought next door at Walgreen’s, and telling her who it is for, and why.
As I wait for my espresso, I watch the girl in the pink trilby playing with her father at a nearby table, and I am very grateful that I am not the only one who hasn’t yet learned not to talk to strangers. In fact, I think that is a rule we would all do well to forget, as soon as we are beyond the vulnerable age.