One if the things we like about King’s, besides the fact that it is only about two miles away by surface streets, is that they commonly feature fresh Sand Dabs, a delicate fish I learned to love when working in the Bay Area up the coast and one I often buy at the local Farmer’s Market. Another attraction is fresh lobster, of the Maine persuasion, for which our family traces a history including the seventh birthday of our oldest son (starting a very expensive recurring tradition) and my Commander Wetting Down party, a Navy tradition that in my case ended up with my being literally thrown off the pier to “wet down” my new shoulder boards, both events happening at Abbott’s Lobster House in Connecticut.
So we found ourselves seated in the cool evening summer air just off the main dining area: Mary with her Sand Dabs and me, working my way through the process of cracking shells and digging out small morsels of delicately-flavored lobster meat. We were alone in the moment, conversation drifting from this to that, including memories such as mentioned above.
We hardly noticed another, quite young couple at a table a few yards away, and I suppose they hardly noticed us, as they were very engaged with each other. At one point in time I did notice them and the fact that they were totally absorbed with each other, even sharing a gentle kiss before settling back to casual conversation.
After there were no more shells to crack, and we were on relaxed coffee time, I mentioned to Mary that I had been watching the couple and she commented that she too had noticed them and that it was part of what was a very pleasant evening.
As I paid the check and prepared to leave, I actually told the couple how they had contributed to our enjoyment and that you don’t often see what can only be defined as Romance anymore. I asked if they were married, perhaps celebrating an anniversary. But as they shared a glance and smiles, they told me they were actually planning their wedding.
But then, the gentleman surprised me by saying that they too were watching us, marveling at the romance that seemed to permeate our conversation. He asked how long we had been married and didn’t seem all that surprised when I told him. “More than fifty years.”
As we drove home we both remembered a time, many years ago, when we were travelling with our two sons, eight and four at the time. We stopped in a little restaurant in a three-flight mall shop on the coast of San Francisco Bay. After that meal, when I asked for the check, we were told that a gentleman, who had a shop in the complex and often ate there, had paid our check because, as the waitress said, “We were such a nice family.”
Although we stopped at his shop to thank him, he was gone for the night. For the almost forty-succeeding years we have never quite understood what we did to make that impression, nor have we ever duplicated the impression or the consequence.
At least not until the other night.
I wonder if any of you have similar experiences of exuding a joy without knowing it. Of casting off some inner feeling that was picked up by total strangers? If so, share it, please.
Tomorrow we leave for our annual family vacation with kids and grandkids. The week should give me time to reflect on a subject on which I have some knowledge: the cost of Healthcare. Since I no longer have a dog in that fight, except my own, personal applications, I might provide some objectivity on what is certainly topical in the politics of the upcoming election.
Come on back in a week or so.