Sweetpea ran out of the school-doors again yesterday, like that Santa-day in December, only this time, it was into very cool dribs of rain; we did splash in a few parking-lot puddles, just because, but it was hoods-up all the way, and into the car in a hurry. We headed again for her favorite place and had a lovely lunch of warm, savory chicken sandwiches and waffle-fries and slaw.
We sat near the glass of the climbing-area, and since the place was late-day deserted, she went into the playground alone. Later I went in to sit on the bench inside, my back to the restaurant, but in a moment, the corner of my eye caught the impact of a customer’s entry into the front doors.
As I turned to look, he was laughing a big hearty head-back laugh, unheard in my cocoon, but with enough body language to telegraph the infectious fun of it---it must have ricocheted around that tiled space like a handful of thrown BBs.
I was mostly seeing him outlined in profile, against the rainy-day light of all the windows around, and he must have caught a glimpse of me against my own panes, for he lifted both hands high and waved and grinned again. Caught up in the moment, I raised both hands and waggled them back, as he laughed again and went toward the counter, greeting people at tables, and talking to all the counter-folks.
He was a big raucous rufous man---like Paul Bunyan come to life---tall and muscular and striding through the door in big wet boots, with a huge tweedy coat like Barney Fife’s dream of Heaven. Bristly, curly hair was a reddish-brown, and I swear, his beard even had that little forward-tilt at the bottom, like leaning back-into-a-Nor’Easter.
I turned back to Sweetpea and her little doings, and when I came out for a moment to say something to Chris, the scent of that rich coffee brewing on a cold day called me to the counter, so I got a large cup, with French Vanilla cream. Getting back to our own table, I sat and sipped, not noticing for a moment that the man was sitting at the diagonal booth, with two big sandwiches, two coffees, and a big pile of mustard and ketchup and sauce packets. He seemed to have a big appetite for everything and a capacity to match.
And people kept coming over to talk to him---each greeted with a big smile as he munched heartily and talked with equal enthusiasm. Between visitors, he was writing on a long yellow pad, and I was hoping he was writing down such a pleasant afternoon, for I was mentally making notes as I sipped my coffee, waved at Sweetpea, chatted with Chris.
It’s been a long cold Winter already---twenty-three days of it, and more-time-than-that of an absolutely dry spell of anything to write, and no energy or inclination to try. But an hour in a warm setting, with the cold drizzle outside, with good food and happy companions and such an energetic and genial presence lighting up the place---that’s a cheerer-upper, for sure, and just what I needed.
And late in the night, the thought came to me that Chris, who is usually so cordial and chatty and striking up conversations with folks at all tables around us, never did say a word to him or even acknowledge the
presence of that guy so loaded with charisma and welcome.
And now I wonder if I might have imagined him. Either way, whosoever sent good thoughts and prayers and good feelings my way, or if he was a figment of YOUR imagination floated across the miles on my behalf, I’m really glad to have had the impetus of that rowdy Viking’s warm personality and infectious bonhomie to get me back on track.
It’s really good to know that CHEER is catching, like a cold---that puts a much better slant on things, don’t you think?