I was browsing at our awesome neighborhood thrift store Noah's Attic the other day with Sonja, picking through some fantastic eightiesness on the blouse rack, when I was approached by a boy. I'd say he was around 10, blonde, a little scruffy. He talked in a kind of muddled but incredibly fast way, starting with some very involved questions about some shoes he was thinking of buying. This led to telling me about how he might try out for football this year, and these shoes might be good for that. Then, on to his father, who used to play football. I was slowly tuning out, a bit distracted with my shopping and the baby. But I snapped back to attention when I heard "yeah, but then I found needles under the trailer...my mom says he was doing lots of heroin." His tone of voice hadn't changed, still that sort of breathless "um and then um and then" way kids can get. "Oh, really?" I said, looking right at him. "Mm hmm, and he was always hiding it, but then he drove into a propane tank...he died, and my mom is says it was cause of his ex-husband(!) ...She smokes, I tell her to quit but she says she's ADDICTED!" Meanwhile, Sonja was beside herself, laughing, clapping, trying to join in the conversation -- oh my god, this big, cute boy is paying attention to us! "Um, it's really hard to quit smoking, but you're right that she should..." I said, lamely. "Yeah, I'm not ever going to smoke!" he said, "I've only done it a couple of times -- " "OH NO, DON'T SMOKE!" I interupted. "But I get it from my MOM," he said, shrugging helplessly. This went on for awhile, and finally I had to extricate myself. "Well, I have to take my baby home now," I said, edging toward the stairs. "Okay," he said, smiling and waving, "hope your baby doesn't eat too much sugar and go all crazy!" Riiiiight. It didn't even occur to my stupid ass until later that I should have asked where his mother was or anything. I wish I had never heard the words "I found needles under the trailer" come out of a child's mouth.