There’s something on my agenda more rewarding than finding an appetizer to bring to a party tonight. And that is a birthday lunch for my friend Carol, who has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. So another year is a milestone that defines the word “celebrate”.
Towards the end of lunch, the elusive appetizer still hangs like a black cloud. As we leave the restaurant, my friend Laurie, who is following my appetizer saga, asks what I’m taking. My plan was fresh veggies and spinach dip–safe and uninspiring, but acceptable under pressure. Laurie recommends the spinach dip at Safeway, but I am hesitant. I feel Whole Foods, being more expensive, would be somehow superior– and that’s where I go.
Inside Whole Foods, I locate an overhead sign reading “Dips and Hummus”. I’d been forewarned that someone else was bringing hummus—so that was not an option. Of course I see at least 100 varieties of hummus, plus a few bottled dressings. But no spinach dip.
Perfect. I see the humor immediately and call to tell Laurie, but I am laughing too hard to leave a message on her voice mail. People are beginning to stare at this lunatic laughing at some invisible joke in the dairy aisle.
A helpful young employee tries to rescue me, and tells me there is some spinach dip in the produce section. Rushing to follow him with my cart, at the next intersection I head off a woman driving one of those little motorized carts for the handicapped. I immediately feel guilty but continue on my dip-quest.
I come to a dead end in Produce where the kid apologizes and tells me he was wrong. And I give myself a silent lecture as I walk back to the dip department. Why am I getting the slightest bit anxious over appetizers? How could I so quickly forget what is important? Compared to Carol, alive and well, dip is a blip. And bringing a mundane dish will allow me to embrace my imperfections as a domestic ditz.
I’m feeling better already. I turn the corner and there– parked right in front of Dips and Hummus– is the lady in the motorized cart. My attitude and my world view are now back on track. I ask if I can help her reach something on the shelf that might be too high.
She shakes her head. “They don’t have what I want,” she says. “I’m looking for spinach dip.”
(This actually happened. I’m not creative enough to make up something this good.)
The lady tells me she considered going to Safeway, but she thought Whole Foods would have better dip.
We commiserate about our common plight for a few minutes. Then she rolls away, as I pick out a bottle of dressing from the shelf. I think about how the world works in mysterious ways. But not this time. This message is about as mysterious and subtle as a boulder dropped on my head.
As I near the checkout area, the lady in the cart is waving me towards her. She leads me to a different area, where she points out a whole shelf of fresh spinach dip. We laugh, and I notice that this lady has a beautiful and contagious smile.
With my dip safely in the car, I am just starting to back out of my parking space when my new friend appears. Honest to God, her car is parked right next to mine. This time we laugh even more; and finally say goodbye.
Lady, you made my day.
And not only because the dip really looks homemade.