Sunday, November 11, 2007

Friday Night On The Town

We decided to take Judy's Mom out to dinner last Friday night. I knew before asking where it would be. Because it's the place she likes: El Chico on Western.

It's been there a long time but not forever as the younger people in our party think. There are 4 of us in my car and Judy's son will meet us. Judy's son and nephew both are in their late 30's. In their memory I think this El Chico has always been there.

But we older ones remember when the area was pasture land. Judy's mom's memories are older than ours of course. I think she knew the family that farmed it or a relative farmed land adjacent to this one. I've been told but I have forgotten.

In the mid 1960's the farm gave way to a hospital and a strip shopping center. There was a cafeteria in the shopping center that I especially remember. It had ceilings that were popular in that time and always reminded me of caves. There was stuff on the ceiling that looked like it would be soft and maybe spongy if you could touch it. I think it was some kind of sprayed on asbestos stuff for fireproofing and soundproofing.

I didn't like cafeterias then and really they haven't gained on me any. For one thing I never knew what I wanted to eat. And someone to the left of me invariably banged his or her tray into my hand while I was trying to make up my mind. Then I would see some dish that looked positively scrumptious and I'd ask for it. And some lady, or sometimes a man, would hand me the dish and say something. I didn't really know what was said so I would nod my head hoping that would suffice.

And then by the time I got to the end of the line and looked at what I had on my tray all those good dishes made a terrible meal. It is funny how some things can look so good individually but when combined makes an awful whole.

Then there was the problem of hauling the tray to the table without spilling the drink. The secret, learned years later, is to not watch the glass. If you watch that glass you are nearly guaranteed a spill. Like when you're driving don't watch the curb unless you want to run into it.

Once seated there was the noise and all the bodies that seemed so close around on all sides. And the cornbread that looked so good in line was dry as sand.

Eventually the strip center and its cafeteria gave way to the hospital which is now called a medical center. Inside the hospital there are still photographs and little bits of writing here and there that recall the history of the place for any who might be interested. I wonder if anyone reads them now or even cares.

Back at El Chico's Constance was our waitress. She was a lovely young woman with exquisitely dark skin, nearly to the exotic. Her name should have been Consuela or Constanza or Conecheta but her name tag read Constance. She was very attentive and very pretty and very poised for one so young. She overheard us wondering about when Judy's son would arrive. She kidded us about being ready to order until he came. And when he came she knew his name and what he most likely wanted to drink so she asked him. His surprised look let her know she had been successful in her eavesdropping. And when he sat down we had to tell him how she knew his name and drink.

I wonder if she knows how special she is? I wonder if someone has told her that she has the potential to be anything she wants and do anything she wants? I wonder if she will educate herself? I wonder what will happen to Constance.

I meant to order Fajita Nachos but said Fajita Enchiladas. Maybe it was the memory of the old problems with the cafeteria that had returned to haunt me. Still it was rather a good choice for me in fact and I would order it again.

Later we all sat together on the enclosed back porch of the old house. The house is from 1900 but the porch is much younger. Still I could not help but wonder how many times had others gathered on this very place just as we were all doing now.

There was new Eggnog from Braum's that was offered to all by Judy's mom. I don't like milk or anything made with milk but I accepted the hospitality all the same. And she encouraged a little nutmeg that I also accepted but drew the line at the imitation rum flavoring.

There was conversation about other family members and who was working where and how soon Thanksgiving was upon us. And what are we all doing for Thanksgiving anyway?

Too soon it was time to go and we parted.

This little gathering was nothing at all in the great scheme of things. Ones just like it were happening all over the world in one way or another. And all of those were just as unnoticed and just as overfamilar as this one.

And yet I could not help but wonder in awe at our little gathering. I suppose it is good that we become accustomed to the familiar otherwise I suspect we could not survive the exposure to the unique, wondrous beauty of love and family.


cornbread hell said...

i sure am glad you're still bloggin'.

dave said...

I live in a little town that was a lot more fun before the developers came in with acres and acres of look alike houses.
I envy those who life in towns that are just holding thier own.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

It was a treat to go along with you on your dinner trip, Terry. Hearing you talk about the old restaurants and the way the land was before it became commercialized was soothing. Little gatherings are wonderful. They are like a little slice of heaven.

Annie said...

I agree with Rick.

Lori1955 said...

I'm beginning to think you are the historian of your town. I am amazed at your memory.
It sounds like a nice relaxing get together. I'm glad you have some normalcy in your life.

Chris said...

YOu remind me of my dad. he hd a knack for remembering every little nook an cranny of our town when he first came to live, who did what, where and when and what places evolved into the places they are now and why.

I begged him to write the stuff down. I knew i would never remember any of it, try as I might. I even tried to write it down myself. I encourage you to keep writing and possibly write this stuff down where your family can access it easily. It will be a treasure, I promise. I so wish my dad had done it.

nancy said...

glad to see that you are beginning to get out and enjoy yourself a little. i agree, what a historian you are. my mom had a mind like like. such a gift.

blessings to you terry.

~Betsy said...

I'm glad you are getting out more and more. You must still feel somewhat like Rip Van Winkle after all those years of caregiving. Judy's mom sounds sweet.