But Stern Stranger looks at Tez, like Tez is breaking his heart, for real. “Those cotton buds?” he says, pointing in Terence’s basket. Again. “Do you know what that can do, to, say, a beautiful seahorse? Do you know—”
“Sea horses?” Terence says, intrigued. “Are they the ones that mate for life?” He’s not a complete heathen. He watches David Attenborough, just like anyone.
And this pretty thing halts, arrested. “Well,” he hesitates. “The male carries the babies, anyhow.” They stare at each other, and this bossy charmer flushes a bit.
“I didn’t mean to harangue you,” he says. “I’m a high school science teacher, and we’re doing projects — I get rather passionate about—” He shuts up for a moment. “My name’s Sean,” he says. He looks down, shyly. Wow.
“I can imagine,” Terence says. He holds out his basket. “Do you want to help me put the excessive packaging back? Maybe provide a little re-education?”
A couple of weeks later, Terence has learnt a lot, about ecologically-friendly consumption, about single-use packaging. And he’s been teaching a thing or two himself, too.