During coronavirus pandemics he generally finds it on Saturdays advisable to go to the cheese stand early. Just before 9 o’clock, when they are still arranging the cheeses. Yesterday it seemed as if he had all the time in the world. He was the second customer, where up to four can be served. There was no queue. He started a chat to show he remembered all the names and searched for Thirza, his favorite cheese lady.

That had begun when, sometime in 2017 he remebered, he was greeted by a youthful cheese boy who left him no choice. The cheese people had apparently killed some time by discussing who their personal favorite customer was. The cheese boy surprised him by saying out loud that he was Thirza’s favorite customer, the cheese girl whose name he didn’t know at the time. The message was given in a schoolyard-patronizing tone. There were about 15 customers. Thirza didn’t like it. All he could do was say how fitting this was as she, the cheese girl, was his favorite cheese lady too.

That was well received. There is little that works as well as publicly expressed mutual preferences.

But something happened on this Saturday. Linda noted that it was Thirza’s birthday yesterday. He realized she must have turned 19 now. He looked at her. She reminded him of Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers. A woman with the girl still shining through. He didn’t think that that awareness would contribute to anything other than their goodbyes.