I had the distinct privilege of having lunch today with two of my oldest friends, Tisha and Lyn. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time! Right now, I am picturing Tisha twirling the ends of her imaginary mustache as she talks about how crazy someone is, and I am picturing Lyn’s very serious look she gets when she is trying not to laugh, which has always cracked me up.
We spent the majority of our time together talking about crazy people we know, and listening to Tish discuss her most recent surgery. The highlight of the day would be when Tish described her new “poop-bag,” installed because of the removal of her colon, as a play-dough factory for poo. Her pronouncement of the play-dough factory for poo came complete with Lyn’s hand motion of pushing down the lever on a real play-dough fun factory while her other hand forms the play-dough squirting out. Tish then said, “Yeah, just like that, only the consistency of baby poo.” How much more amazing can you get? I would argue not much.
I spent the afternoon at Starbucks working on my dissertation proposal and reading. While I was there, three older people came in and sat down in the chairs just opposite me. I want to write a creative nonfiction piece from the experience because it was so endearing and unsettlingly common. This is what I have so far:
Circled Around an Apple Fritter in the Tillotson Starbucks
He pats her three or seven times, never more or less, always three or seven times. She whispers to him, “I love you.” Occasionally, she follows that proclamation with, “Thanks for all you do for me.” When she says this to him, he pats her left hand with his right, seven times. “I love you, too.”
She asks, “Are we going back to school after lunch?”
He pats three times and says, “No, I am going home with you to keep you safe, so you won’t have to worry.”
“I don’t want to go to Greensburg.”
“We aren’t going to Greensburg. We are going home. Here in Muncie. Patty is going to Greensburg.” He gestures toward the other woman who sits on his left. The three are sharing an apple fritter and two cups of coffee. He has poured a toddler’s portion of his coffee into a short cup and swirls it to cool it for her. He forks a too-big bite of fritter into her mouth. She smiles and chews, crumbs dropping onto her purple jacket. He wipes them gently onto the ground, squeezing her thick hand while her hot pink fingernails tapping the chair in time to her own music. I wonder if he paints her nails or if she gets them done at a salon.
“When are you going back to school? I want to go home.” He pats her hand three times and reminds her that they are going home after she finishes her coffee.
“It’s hot, but it’s good for you. Be careful. It’s still too hot,” he speaks gently to her like a kindergarten teacher talks to her students. He pats her leg seven times and caresses her cheek. As she lifts the cup, he reminds, “Hot. Hot. Hot. Careful.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too, Dear.”
She looks across the table toward Patty and asks, “What school do you go to? Do you have to go back to school this afternoon?”
Patty’s eyes crinkle into a smile and she answers, “I quit school. I hated being a school girl.” They all laugh, but the woman seems bewildered, unsure about what is funny.
“Are we going home now? I don’t want to go to Greensburg.”
“One last swallow of coffee and we are going home.” He pats her arm three times while she swallows the last of the drink from the tiny paper cup. When he gets up to take the trash to the bin, she asks, “Are you going back to school now?”
I am thankful for people who exhibit more patience than I could ever muster.
Food: orange juice, grilled cheese, seasoned fries, cottage cheese, Christmas goodies, two decaf Americanos, plain bagel with cream cheese, salad with strawberries, garbonzo beans, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and honey mustard dressing
Exercise: walked the dogs a mile