A while ago, I wrote about "eldergrimming," which is what happens when an inspiring, affirming moment is ruined by an old person.

Today I was reminded that it's not just the elderly who are capable of introducing an uncomfortable note of awfulness into a pleasant situation you really didn't expect would turn awful.

I was on the streetcar and a mass of tiny children got on. I immediately thought, "I want to kill myself. Very soon, I'm going to want to die." But I soon noticed that the children were implausibly adorable and that their teenage counselor was implausibly attentive (to them, I mean) and resourceful and engaged and funny. The kids were bouncing around in a way that was still cute but on the verge of being not cute at all anymore, and the counselor asked them all the following question, which suddenly and fiercely focused them on something other than starting to no longer be cute: "If you had all the money in the world, what would you spend it on?"

Cue head-exploding cuteness explosion. One tiny boy said, "I would spend the money helping other people who need help." Adorable. One girl said, "I would buy Gerrard Square mall." Slightly less adorable—because more commercial and acquisitive—but still acceptable. The tiniest boy of all looked like he'd been hit by a thunderbolt of inspiration and come up with THE BEST IDEA EVER, and he shouted, "I would buy...A CAKE!"

By this point, I was smiling widely and feeling generally uplifted. I got up to leave the streetcar, still smiling in a "I am old and sophisticated, but still capable of being softened by the magic of childhood" kind of way, and a sweet-faced girl yelled:

"SLAVES! I would buy A LOT OF SLAVES!"

And then I went to the grocery store and a sweet-faced elderly woman was really mean to the cashier.

Leave a Reply.