Monday, August 07, 2006


I am pleased to report that manners are still being taught to children. Yes; it's true. I know this because yesterday I was approached by not one but two remarkably self-possessed, polite little girls.

Little girl #1: San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

F. and I were on the lawn in front of the Conservatory of Flowers yesterday playing a little bocce ball (I know, I know. It's possible that henceforth all my stories will involve bocce ball.) when I heard a small "Excuse me." I looked down and on my right was a small girl perhaps three years old. Approaching somewhat unevenly behind her was her smaller brother. Their mother was a rather distant third. "Yes?" I said. "What are those?" said the girl, pointing at the balls. "That's a game called bocce ball." Apparently favorably impressed by my answer, she quite civilly asked, "Can we borrow these?" "Well, not right now," I said, "because we are in the middle of playing." "Oh." she said. "Can we play with you?" "Um...okay."

I explained the goal of the game and she interpreted the rules rather broadly, but did, in a sense, touch the big ball to the little ball. Her brother wasn't quite as successful, but seemed to be enjoying himself. At this point, their mother caught up, swooped down, and with many prompts of "What do you say to the nice people?" bundled her children off. Over her shoulder, the little girl said, "Thank you. Can you come over there to Mr. Frog's birthday party?" Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend. It was nice to be asked though.

Little girl #2: Trader Joes

A few hours later I was staring vacantly meat case in Trader Joes, as I generally do before invariably buying chicken breasts, when I heard another little "excuse me" in the vacinity of my left elbow. Sure enough. Another little girl. This one was maybe seven and possibly just doing her own grocery shopping. In any case, I never saw her parents.

LG: Excuse me.
Me: Yes?
LG: Where is the turkey?
Me: For cooking or for sandwiches?
LG: Sandwiches.
Me: Hmm. (indicating almost entirely empty section of the case) It's usually right here, but it looks like they don't have much.
LG: We get the kind in the box.
Me: Me too, but they don't seem to have that kind today. They only have that (pointing to sad little low-sodium turkey packet).
LG: (After a moment of thought)Okay. Well, could you give me one of those please? We'll just break it up.

And so I did and with a thank you and a packet of sub-par turkey, she was off.