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The woman left her counter at a nearly empty Lincoln Avenue thrift shop to show a male customer some merchandise in the back.

"Anybody ever buy these bikes?" he asked.

"Nobody but you," she laughed.

He pointed to a pair of exercise bicycles. "And these don't move?"

"No, they don't."

Leaning on a handlebar, he asked, "So, how's your husband?"

"Not too good. He's got prostate cancer."

"How old is he?"

"He's 70."

The man started moving toward the front. "Well, that's not so bad. You know, they say with that kind of cancer that you'll die of old age before you'll die of the cancer."

She followed him. "No, but it's not so good. It's spreading. It's pretty bad now." She went behind the counter.

"Well, look at you. You're the picture of health!"

"Well, I'm a lifelong alcoholic," she replied brightly.

"OK," the man said. "Bye."


Reader to Reader welcomes (and pays for) anecdotes, overheard conversations, and slices of city life from 20 to 200 words in length. Send yours to Reader to Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611, or E-mail to


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