Friday, June 12, 2009

Journal of a Living Lady #349

Nancy White Kelly

Last week Buddy and I made the thirty mile trip to the closest big box store. As usual, we stopped for breakfast on the way, this time at the place with golden arches.

As we made our way to the counter, I noticed a scruffy-looking, older gentleman eating pancakes with beautiful strawberries piled on top. It amazed me that this franchised hamburger establishment would serve such luscious fruit.
Buddy ordered a sausage and biscuit. I asked the clerk for pancakes with strawberries on top. Her jaw dropped and she glared silently in disbelief. I caught on and reacted with calm aplomb.

“Cancel those strawberries,” I said. “Just plain pancakes will be fine.”

With our trays in hand, Buddy and I passed by the strange, but eloquent diner who apparently brought his own fruit. Buddy wasn’t as interested in the man as I was.
The next peculiar thing that I noticed was that his food was on a lovely straw placemat. Instead of the foam plates Buddy and I were given, this man had a real dish. Its gilded border matched the edge of his china cup which was decorated with pink cherubs.

Buddy and I took a near-by booth. I hoped the man wouldn’t notice my staring. He didn’t. He was in another world fully occupied with his morning meal.
A white, cloth napkin lay upon his lap in vivid contrast to his wrinkled and soiled shirt. As best I could tell from the distance, the napkin appeared to be ironed.
Had the man been in a tuxedo and cleanly shaven, he could have been a stand-in for the butler in those “pass the all-fruit” commercials.

I removed my plastic fork from the sealed package and then pried the tiny piece of yellow, imitation oil from the small container. My eyes kept returning to the odd man. Probably he had real butter.

His eating utensils were not the same as mine. The fork was a silvery-colored metal, probably sterling.

Twice the old man got up from his booth seat, picked up a white paper cup, and approached the counter. Without a word, the clerk refilled the man’s cup with coffee. He returned to his seat and methodically poured the piping-hot contents into his personal cup.

Buddy and I finished eating and discarded our trash. On the way out the door, I took one last look at the old man who was still leisurely enjoying his breakfast. He was lost in oblivion.

Was he a vagrant or an eccentric millionaire? I laughed as my mind supplied a silly answer:” Only the Shadow knows.”

Buddy and I headed for our car in the parking lot. I carefully perused the area looking for that candid camera. This experience was so surreal that there had to be someone lurking in the shrubbery.

Nobody came forth. I smiled anyway.


Bob Cleveland said...

Being a shy person, and unlikely to ever approach someone in such a situation, I'd have walked up on him, commented on the splendid sight, and tried to get to know him. That's the only way I know not to let shyness get the best of me.

When I used to travel, many is the time I'd approach someone eating alone in New York or Chicago or L.A. .. in regular sit-down restaurants, and ask them if they'd like company. They always, without exception, said YES and asked me to sit down.

I cannot tell you how many fascinating people I met that way.

Bob Cleveland said...

Uhh ... methinks you need to update your email address on Blogger ... the dealyboo that sends you an email auspiciously announcing my comments was returned by Blogger, saying it couldn't be delivered to you a AllTel.Net.......