Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of the cool things about eating at a diner is that they seat you at a table with complete strangers. I always take a book in case my table mates aren't wise enough to capitalize on the opportunity to delight in conversation with your humble narrator. 4 out of 5 times, I never even open the book before I'm drawn into the table chat.

This week I met a woman of exceptional style. She was fabulous and as sweet as pie, and we talked the whole meal through. She said it was great to get a proper meal with all the trimmings, that she'd been married 47 years and that she cooked the first 20, her husband cooked the second 20, and now they eat at restaurants all the time.

I noticed the soft and very pretty Southern accent, and before I could ask, she mentioned being from Alabama, and that her husband was from Mississippi. I asked if they'd met at Ole Miss, and she said "goodness, no!" Seemed to me she looked really young to have been married 47 years. Her father'd owned a building which housed a radio station, and he admonished her never to pay any mind to the "trash" that worked at that station. Naturally, she fell completely in love with a rock and roll disc jockey at the age of 16. I asked her what her father thought of her choice, and she said "you don't want to know."

She knew he was the one for her, she said. He said he wanted to marry her, but that he only made $90 a week and could not possibly marry her until he made $120 a week. Shortly thereafter, he was offered a job in San Diego making $150 a week, so they eloped and to California there they came. That was 1961.

She said that first 20 years, she'd get up quietly at 4:30 every morning and cook the full compliment of breakfast illuminated only by the dim light of the open refrigerator. It's funny to think about a 16-year old doing that whole routine, isn't it?

She asked about me and my life, and we talked about college and domestic responsibilities. I told her about my plans and my newbie career and all that, and she asked me for my card and said she'd be happy to pass my info along to anyone she knew who might need help. I thought that was very lovely of her. She gave me her card too. It was really nice.

Last week, I got to hear a born-to-be-mild guy boring the crap out of his co-worker by rambling on about his motorsickle exploits. That amused me mightily, as the other guy clearly was not at all interested, never even uttering so much as a "yeah" or an "uh-huh" as his eyes scanned the room repeatedly. I thought of the head-caving-in-boredom of listening to this dry-as-toast boor and then of The Fly squeaking "Help me! Help me!" Before that day, I figured that it wasn't possible for someone with a motorcycle to be a dullard. Now I know the truth: if you have a motorcycle, that doesn't make you not a dork.
I was at the office late Wednesday and delivering a notice to every resident, when I passed by one who was standing outside his doorway, smoking a cigarette in the evening air. I complimented his pool table and he asked if I'd like to play. It was a nice pool table, but I honestly had to wonder if any female had ever taken him up on his offer to play strip pool. Sheesh.

This is what comes of taking people at face value: some rascals think that I'm so quiescent and accepting that maybe they can get away with some kind of crap. I told him just for that bit of insouciance, I was going to raise his rent. Oh well, at least we both got a good chuckle out of it.


Anonymous said...

I love meeting new people and getting a slim view into their lives. People can be very interesting when you just take the time to listen.

The lady sounded like a lovely gal.

I guess you can't blame a guy for trying:) Some men!

phlegmfatale said...

lainy - yeah, it's really interesting to get that little slice of life.

Oh, can't I? *smirk!*

NotClauswitz said...

Some guys buy bikes just as anti-dork insurance, but they might as well buy a dozen - they're just as bad as photo-hobbyists who go on at length about various lenses and developer concentrations.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I would love to get sat with you at a diner sometime! I'll bet we would have the most charming conversation!

Christina RN LMT said...

Motorcycles and also, don't forget, TATTOOS!

I see way too many dorky wanna-bees with all sorts of tattoos.
I bet they drive motorcycles, too.

That lady sounds like a wonderful person to get to know. Wish I'd been there! And such a romantic story, too.


What? You've never played strip billiards?

Me, neither.

Attila the Mom said...

Lovely stories....I have a huge smile on my face!