I’m doing it again. I didn’t even know I was doing it. Until I was doing it. She moves at a glacier pace, and I creep along behind her, pushing my rickety, undersized shopping cart. I’m aware my kids are somewhere near, but I’m not really paying attention. Because I need to follow her.

She’s got that short-cropped platinum hair, and it is that hair that I see first and led me down this aisle. Whenever I see that type of hair, a shock of recognition jolts through my body. “It’s her!” I think. And then I know it’s not.

But I follow her anyway.

She pauses at the Revlon display. I grin because I was hoping she would. She gets real close, so she can read the lipstick labels. I sidle up next to her. She’s wearing one of those matching old lady track suits, just like Rosemary used to wear. She doesn’t look like her, not really, except for the track suit, and, of course, the hair.

But I don’t care.

“Hi!” I say. “That’s a great lipstick.”

She looks surprised, but she smiles at me. We chat briefly. I help her read the name on the small-print labels. She puts that familiar green tube in her basket and shuffles away.

I repeat this behavior at Target, CVS, RiteAid. And at other places, too. Like Panera and Harris Teeter and Home Depot. I seek out these platinum haired little old ladies. Because, for an instant, I think it’s her. My grandma.

But it’s not. But I take any and all opportunity to talk to these little old ladies with platinum hair. They might be someone’s grandma. Or they might not.

But for a minute, I pretend they’re mine.


Sarah is a thiry-something wife to an engineer and mother of three. She loves teaching aerobic and cycling classes, learning to shoot with her DSLR in manual mode, and drinking coffee.