While rinsing the chlorine off this morning in the YMCA shower, a gaggle of giggling little girls squeezed altogether in the open stall next to me. Although several others were open, they chose to rinse off together. Like spies on a secret mission, they peeked out from behind their vinyl curtain as if to be sure the coast was clear. Then the giggling stopped and the whispering began.
“My aunt is visiting us,” confided the first. “She’s the one with the gray hair. She is very, very old.. . .but don’t tell anyone!”
“Why not?” asked the smallest in a whisper.
“It’s a secret.”
“Oh,” they all seemed to understand at once.
Then one broke the silence: “How old is she?”
“Oh, pretty old, I think,” the first replied. “Like my dad’s age.”
“That’s not old,” piped the third. “My dad isn’t old but his mother is REALLY, REALLY old. She’s my grandmother.”
“All grandmothers are old,” added the fourth.
“How come?” asked another.
“They have to be cuz if they weren’t we wouldn’t be here.”
At that moment, I turned off the water and pulled back my shower curtain. As I stepped out, four pairs of very wide eyes looked up at me.
“You’re so right,” I told them. “Without grandmothers we wouldn’t be here—and don’t worry I won’t tell anyone how very, very old your aunt is.”
“Okay,” said the girl, “Cause she would really kill me.”
“No worries,” I said, “Considering there are about 400 people out there today, I will never even know who she is.”
“Phew,” said her friend as I left. “That was close.”