Last month’s Observer included my illustrated article about a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, where I discovered a praying mantis in my shopping basket.
Even before the article came out, I heard the news:
Bed Bath & Beyond is closing!
I drove out to Arborland. As I wound my way through the store, I found things that I needed: a stainless-steel toilet wand, twenty-four candles, three sponges, a dozen cocktail napkins, and a scrub brush.
I got in line and waited until I was summoned to a checkout lane.
At the register stood an older woman—my age.
She looked tired and dispirited.
I decided to try.
“I wrote a story about the first time I came to Bed Bath & Beyond,” I said.
She barely glanced at me.
“I picked up a basket, and there was a praying mantis in it.”
“I saw that on Facebook!” she exclaimed.
I said it was in the Observer.
She said, “I read that!!”
I said it had happened in this very store. It was the first time I was ever in a Bed Bath & Beyond, and I had been very excited. But when I found the praying mantis, I left.
With enthusiasm, she said, “They’re vicious!”
I said, “Yes, they do bite the heads off the males after they mate.”
I said, “Oh well.”
She said, “We’re laughing.”
“Probably something to think about there,” I said.
“I can still think of someone I wish I’d done that to!” she said.
We laughed some more.
She said, “You’re the author.”
Modestly, I said, “Yes.”
She said, “I’ll tell my sister! She read it too.”
She said, “It must’ve been a female.”
I asked why.
She said, “It still had its head!”