There are times in life you’re reminded, with amusement, that you actually have a pretty wonderful life. I was on the way home from the data center tonight and stopped in a town south of Worcester for take-out Chinese. It’s good Chinese as American take-out Chinese goes, a restaurant I found mostly by having several friends in the area, and it’s convenient to stop at coming home from the Worcester area and the atmosphere provided by the bar is always interesting.
As I’m ordering, there is a couple I think are breaking up, very loudly and very publicly. I sit down to wait for my food as she is bemoaning that this is the first time she’s been out in two months and this is what she gets, then as he is finally leaving she continues her stream of consciousness independent of his with an admonishment he’s doing himself no favors.
After he left, I realized it wasn’t a break up – rather two who flirt by arguing. The bar tender asks about his bill, “Oh he left me ten for it…but don’t worry, I’ll pick up the rest.” She then orders another drink, specifying this one is to have less pineapple since she needs something stronger.
Functional alcoholic townies who peaked in high school define the line up at the bar. I don’t mean that in a condescending manner – but one of entertained appreciation that while I may be, as usual, going home to an empty house and have faced my own challenges and demons, there but for the grace of God go I. I wouldn’t want to be a corporate lawyer stressing away in a downtown office, but I am also thankful to not be a habitual barfly drinking away disappointment.
At the other corner of the square “U” shaped bar from the remaining half of the flirting arguers is another townie is expounding to those near him on Obama, the tracking of cash transfers, and Lyndon LaRouche (whose supporters called soliciting money today). Between them and floating in and out of the conversations of each group is another trying to remember the name of townie woman he saw in the restaurant earlier and is throwing out names to see if any spark the memories of the bar tender or patrons.
Now less you think this tale is a work of fiction, as backdrop to the intoxicated philosophizing being made to each other or no one in particular, and my sober observation, was Lassie on the television. A mid-sixties episode after Lassie had left the farm and moved in with a Forest Ranger. That detail reminds us that fiction has to be believable, and no cantina scene imagined could possibly include Lassie – it is in nonfiction that the truly surprising is found. It is those unexpected times which give life the complexity from which appreciation can spring.