In the Dining Room of a family oriented restaurant on a rainy, windy Sunday evening, guests rushed in and out while staff scurried all about. A fire was burning in the fireplace with rocking chairs and a game of checkers placed before it ever so strategically. There was a buzz of conversation over which a faint humming of music could be heard. Families with parents, children and grandchildren were seated and their orders were placed. Senior couples strided in as well. It seemed as if everyone was moving like clockwork through the dinner hour. And a single, middle-aged young woman sat in the corner watching while she waited for a plate of buttermilk-coated boneless fried chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet whole baby carrots and southern biscuits to arrive at her table.
Before being seated in The Dining Room, the single, middle-aged young woman crossed paths with a couple she knew from years past. The couple was of an age that they could be, or almost be, old enough to be her parents. They had been married for a long time and in that length of time, their patterns with others and with themselves were pretty well set. They live within the box. What surprised the young woman was that the couple graciously accepted that she turned down their offer to join them for dinner. In years past when she was more acquainted with them, saying no was not an option. As well, they did not pry after asking her if she were meeting her mother there. In years past …
The young woman then proceeded into The Dining Room after that encounter. And as she sat in the corner watching while waiting for her order, another senior couple entered and was seated. As it happens, they were seated at a table immediately beside the young woman. The lady’s hair was perfectly coiffed; not a hair had been mussed by the winds and the rain. Her face was delicately made up and the shade of her lipstick had been carefully selected and applied. Her feet shuffled slowly but her eyes were always flitting back and forth, noting in detail her surroundings. Her husband walked a few steps behind her, patiently and knowingly. He looked like your typical grandpa, in dark chinos, plaid long-sleeved shirt and nondescript windbreaker jacket. He carried her purse; he was the stronger of the two. There must have been a gentle smile on my face as I watched them for when my eyes met with his, he winked at me. Finally they were seated and ready to order. As the 20-something-year-old server made note of their dinner order, he had to bend down closely to them to hear their soft voices.
When the server semi-jogged to the kitchen away from them, the lady looked up and straight at the young woman. She nodded her greeting, but she continued to watch unabashedly. The couple sat in companionable silence as they waited. There seemed to be unspoken communication in that silence, a deep and loving history shared. But even after the young woman received her food, the lady continued to watch each time the young woman spoke to the server and it seemed with each movement altogether. The young woman pondered to herself about that. Should she approach the lady and strike up a conversation? How would the senior couple respond if the young woman secretly paid their bill?
As the young woman contemplated what she should do, another couple that she recognized entered The Dining Room. In fact, the young woman had been in their wedding, a lifetime ago. The young woman shook her head when she saw them. In a relatively small town, always be prepared to cross paths with people that you know. Anonymity may be a bit difficult. However, the couple was not aware of the young woman dining in the restaurant. The young woman contemplated how to respond to this couple as well as to the elderly couple. The last communication between the young woman and this couple had been a bit uneasy. Words of tension had been exchanged between the two females; the young woman had expressed her frustration that the married friend from a lifetime ago still talked to her and acted as if the young woman was still that 18-year-old girl in high school who did not drive, did not date and did not venture far from the shadow of her mother. It has been literally thirty years since the young woman was 18 years old. Since then, there has been many stamps added to her passport, she has lived independently and successfully in the big city for twenty years and has only recently returned to her old stomping grounds. Sadly the young woman has often thought that such accomplishments pale in comparison, sometimes into obscurity, to the coveted Mrs. degree and certificate of motherhood here in a relatively small town. The young woman giggled at the thought of how the friend from a lifetime ago would respond if dating escapades were ever discussed.
The dilemma of how to respond to being in the same restaurant with this couple resolved itself. As the young woman finished her meal with a cup of coffee, fried apples and a homemade buttermilk biscuit, this couple swiftly marched out, with the female having an intense and determined facial expression and the male stepping quickly to keep pace. He carried the container of leftovers. His exit was interrupted by a group of teenagers; he is a well-known figure in the community. Some things never change.
In the Dining Room of a family oriented restaurant on a rainy, windy Sunday evening, guests rushed in and out while staff scurried all about. A fire was burning in the fireplace with rocking chairs and a game of checkers placed before it ever so strategically. There was a buzz of conversation over which a faint humming of music could be heard. Families with parents, children and grandchildren were seated and their orders were placed. Senior couples strided in as well. It seemed as if everyone was moving like clockwork through the dinner hour. And a single, middle-aged young woman sat in the corner watching after she had cleared a plate of buttermilk-coated boneless fried chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet whole baby carrots and southern biscuits. She lingered over her cup of coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the fire. The elderly couple beside her had only half eaten their meal. The young woman silently coveted their relationship and their obvious mutual affection and respect.
While seated in The Dining Room, the young woman watched the elderly couple, companions for life, partners in Love.