A Widower Walks into a Bar

People eat at restaurants all by their lonesome for a variety of reasons: People watching, grabbing a quick bite between point A and point B, maybe they needed to get that all-you-can-eat shrimp at Red Lobster before it’s gone and everyone else is busy. Career waitresses often have the ability to figure these people out.

One particular evening a single gentleman was sitting on the cocktail deck, parallel to the bar of the quaint Wisconsin supper club I sling food and beverage at. He ordered a Whiskey Old Fashioned, nothing obviously telling as to why he was a single table of one. While approaching to take his order roughly 4, no more than 5 minutes after dropping his beverage, it was gone. We shared a good laugh: there must’ve been a hole in the glass and I’d be sure to bring him another without a leak next time. Once he was on his 3rd he shared with me his reasoning for being there alone.

It was his wedding anniversary, except his wife passed away in March of this year and my place of employment was his lady’s favorite place. He cracked another joke, he liked it there too, but it was the only place she ever suggested.

Based on personal assessment, to him, it was the right place to be. Flushed with emotion, I thanked him for coming out to celebrate his marriage with us.

I realized now, there will be instances when you meet other human beings who have experienced sorrow in ways you’re unable to comprehend, and just being present can give immense comfort. I listened to every word he shared as if there’d be a quiz later. It was his first anniversary without his wife, and I imagine that in itself is a very unique kind of heartache. These are the kind of moments that force reflection on your own life.

Just 15 minutes before we were strangers and suddenly his words of an experience he endured shaped my own thoughts, putting a number of things into perspective. Tomorrow will come, but not for all of us. The big picture we all strive to look at can dramatically transform into a nightmare without warning. Anything is possible, good or bad. When it happens, how will we cope and manage day-to-day life? I’ll tell ya what, I want to do it like the man at my table.

After careful thought, I ordered him the complimentary (homemade, super tasty) cupcake we gift out for celebrations and telling the whole story to a friend at work who made a stellar point: How do you even know he likes cupcakes? Not that this is much concern for the average Joe coming in for their birthday, I was trying to bring this man who lost his wife any form of happiness.

The overall goal was for him to get home and realize he made the right decision, to come to his late wife’s most favorite restaurant on their wedding anniversary, without her.

How easy would it have been for this man to stay home feeling sad? He deserved any dessert he wanted. I handed over a dessert menu and instructed him to pick out any dessert he wanted, on me. I wish I could find the words to describe the look in his eyes but I can’t. It was a look of the purest appreciation I’ve ever seen.

The owner of the restaurant I work for likes to say, we aren’t in the food business, we’re in the people business serving food, and that night it couldn’t have rung truer. I dropped off his choice of Creme Brulee and he asked if he could give me a hug, which turned out to be the most real hug I’ve ever shared with a near-stranger. I hope to see him again, and I hope he’s well and at peace. Me? I’ll just be over here mulling over the memory, reminding myself that life can change in an instant, and not taking tomorrow for granted.

Age isn’t defined by a number (unless you’re a minor).

My brother’s voice was echoing against my bathroom walls through my speakerphone. As I sat in front of the mirror tweezing the unwanted hairs off my face, he is giving me a quick rundown of his most recent estate sale finds. I noticed something; Am I getting wrinkles?

I zoned out briefly and gave him the quick, “uh huh…” to let him know I was still attempting to listen. I am turning 30 this year, is it a damn right of passage or something?! I must have checked out longer than I thought because I heard…

So, what do you think?

Silently staring at myself in the mirror, rather than give him my thoughts on his purchase (that I clearly had no clue what it even was) I blurt out, I have wrinkles,.with true desperation in my voice.

HA! You are turning 30 this year aren’t you?”

-My brother

I felt so flustered by these lines that protrude out past my eyes when I smile, grimace, squint – I’m pretty sure I saw every single face I am capable of creating that morning as I searched for other dreaded signs of getting old. I found some on my forehead also. Should I be making a direct run to Target to pick up some of that wrinkle cream Ellen endorses?

Thankfully, my meltdown was brief and it had an unexpected outcome. While I combed through my hair to see if I could spot any gray, I gave myself a mental slap in the face.

PULL IT TOGETHER, JEN! YOU’RE NOT OLD!

And I went about my day.

As morning turned into afternoon, I refused to think about the issue I had earlier, finally that evening I confronted it. Who cares if my face is showing a few small signs of aging? It’s supposed to. Hell, it’s totally natural. If what they say is true, you’re only as old as you feel, I should be content with where I’m at.  If my now brain was able to channel how I was feeling at 22 years old – I wonder how old I actually felt. It has to be older than I feel in the present.

Happiness can shed years off your age. Age isn’t defined by a number (unless you’re a minor…) or the wrinkles on your face.

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” Satchel Paige

[Weekly Writing Challenge]

Dear Mother at Kwik Trip

Dear Mother at Kwik Trip,

I was waiting to check out with a few items, noticed you and your daughter walk in. With excitement in her voice your daughter exclaimed:

MOM!! CAN I GET ANOTHER EGG ROLL!?

To which you replied:

Yeah, because that is just what you need, another egg roll. Why don’t you ask for a banana?

I was not the only person taken aback by this. Numerous people turned in your direction with disgust written all over their faces.

Obviously, your daughter’s choice of words like another would imply that you have bought her numerous egg rolls in the past, making her question completely relevant. Instead of saying, “How about you get a more healthy snack like a banana?” you made the decision to cut her down, and make her feel 2 inches tall in front of a store full of people.

Your daughter is overweight. That is your fault. Not every obese child’s parents are to blame – sometimes there are other reasons -. in this instance, however, I blame you. Not only does your daughter need to deal with the struggles of being overweight in everyday life, but even her own mother says hurtful things to her.

You are supposed to lift your children up. Make them believe they can conquer anything standing in their way. You are supposed to make sure she lives a long healthy life. You are supposed to make sure she enjoys her childhood.

Real question: what the hello is wrong with you?

You’re a bully and you disgust me.

Sincerely,

J. Boggs

The Tooth Fairy Looks Really Nice

The tooth fairy looks really nice in this movie.

Looks really nice, he says. Is this the first time my son has acknowledged the opposite sex? Weird. As we watched Rise Of The Guardians that night he mentioned his wiggly tooth and the tooth fairy’s appearance only about 5 more times.

via: fanpop.com
via/fanpop.com

Tucking him into bed, he asks what I think the mysterious tooth fairy looks like. I begin to give my best parental explanation, however, I am cut off by my volcano mouth child…

Do you think she looks like she does in the movie?????

Does my kid have his first little infatuation with a girl? I guess I should be content that this girl is not real?

Fast forward approximately one week and that wiggly front tooth is gone. He lost the first of his two front teeth a decent amount of time before this 2nd one, the first front tooth missing made me feel nostalgic – I may have gotten a little misty. That being said, when this second one came out I jumped for joy. My child looked all kinds of crazy with that front tooth dangling and a giant gap off to the side.

Okay, the tooth is gone. Evening arrives and he tells me he wants to write the tooth fairy a note. He sits down at his desk.

How do you spell Guardian?

How do you spell Picture?

This is how the note read:

Dear Tooth Fairy,

You look really nice in Rise of the Guardians. Have you collected a lot of teeth tonight? Please write back on the back of this paper and draw a picture of you.

Love,
Bennett

Fast forward to 4:30AM the following morning, my groggy half-asleep brain starts alerting me Psst…You forgot to be the tooth fairy last night. Instantly, as I lay motionless, my head is in hysteria mode as I remember he requested a picture.

After rolling out of bed, I grabbed the crayons he set so carefully beside his note and came to terms with the fact that a picture is just not happening right now. Starting fresh, the tooth fairy’s response went something like this:

Dearest Bennett,

Thank you so much for the note!

<everything you’d expect me to write in my kid’s note to the toothfairy>

I cannot draw you a picture of myself. You see, no child really knows what I look like. Keep being a good boy and keeping your teeth so darn clean, next time… I will draw you a picture.

Love, The Tooth Fairy

PS. I hope you don’t mind…I kept your note.

When Bennett woke up, before his eyes were even opened he mumbled,“the picture…..” I have failed as a parent. He is going to be so disappointed. After he read the note, he gets this silly little smirk on his face and says, “I’m going to keep her note too.”

Being a mom is awesome. Parenthood is wonderful. I can’t wait to tell him that his first love was the tooth fairy.