Please be normal

“Please be normal.  Please be normal.” A mother to her two children, heard in the elevator on the way up to the floor where the mother worked in our office building on the most recent Take Your Kids to Work Day.

My dad is at that awkward age where his stated preferences apparently contradict his economic well-being. He wants to abolish government’s role in health care. Unfortunately, my mom gets a funny feeling in her chest every few months and they have to go to the emergency room. The last bill for this situation was $5,100 and Medicare paid for almost everything. If government got out of health care like Dad wants, they'd have gone broke years ago. He continues to grind his teeth over the tyranny of government. Just one more reason to bite my tongue on the next visit. (I’d rather keep the peace.)

On the train platform the woman with wiry grey hair has old shoes. Their heels, seen from behind, are beveled at a 30 degree angle to force her to walk bow-legged. She moves like a chess piece, a knight, while waiting for the train to appear. Step-step-stop. Step-step-stop. Thirty seconds in this direction, thirty seconds in that direction. 

The old man on the train plattform has a worn-down posture. When he walks in front of me from left to right he looks like the letter S. This could be me in some years. While waiting for the train he moves like a rook on a chess board — shuffling in a straight line, head down.  He’s not looking where he’s going but the grey-haired woman is, so one piece has never captured the other.