My husband Bob was a good sport today and took me to my favorite buffet-style restaurant for lunch. I say he is a good sport because he really doesn't care for the place, but I love their old fashioned pot roast and vast array of overcooked vegetables...just the way I like them. Oh, and their macaroni and cheese...to die for. He carefully divided his plate into fourths with the only foods he considers 'safe' at a buffet...a baked potato, cole slaw, raw pineapple and, for some unknown reason, tuna salad. I, on the other hand, ran from station to station with no thought of food borne illness, piling my plate dangerously high with everything that looked good or reminded me of Mama's cooking.
Once we settled in, we ate and watched people. Such an interesting Saturday crowd. A woman at the table behind us had bright pink hair. I wonder how she got it that color. The man at the table next to us kept urging his family to go back for more...he'd 'paid $51 for this meal' and, by golly, they were going to get their money's worth. I believe, from casual observation, that they did. One woman, about my age, came back to her table with chocolate dipped strawberries on sticks...she gave one to her husband and this struck me as very romantic, in spite of the fact that Bob feels the communal chocolate fountain is probably a veritable hotbed of ptomaine.
A couple of older gentlemen sat at different tables, heads bowed in determined solitude as they ate their meals. In a smaller community, they would have probably sat together, perhaps at one long table, sharing news and gossip, flirting harmlessly with their waitress. They always make me sad, these old men of the small city. They seldom smile, avoid eye contact and leave quietly when they are finished. Women alone often bring a book to read if they are solitary types, or make casual comments to other diners, starting mini-conversations, if they are more outgoing. But the old men just eat.
Then, just when I thought we were finished, my knight in shining armour excused himself, reappearing a couple of minutes later with a plate of brownies and lemon tarts, smiling hugely, his eyes on me alone. There are a few moments in life that make us feel truly special...this was one of them for me. The next time he tracks mud across my clean floor or annoys me by channel surfing during the commercials, may I remember with gratitude and love the sparkle in his eye as we shared that plate of sweets. And may it be many years before either of us must go to the buffet alone.