I went to dinner last week with my wife, my pastor and his wife. We ate, we talked and we had a very nice time. The conversation never lagged and the food that we ate was quite good. Now, to some people this may seem a normal, everyday occurrence and to some they just might find it odd, but to me, well, I find it just downright peculiar.
Simple… ok, maybe not so simple.
Allow me to explain:
First of all, I don’t really like to go out too much, as anyone who knows me can attest to. And, when I do go out it is usually for an event that has the words “Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary” attached to it. Also, I mostly just like to spend my time at my house for the simple fact that I am paying my mortgage and bills so that I have a place to hang out. I am what is known as a “Home Body.” If I’m not at work then I am at home. No ifs, no ands and no buts’. I like my porch, I like my couch, I like my kitchen and I like my bed, so I don’t want to leave them alone.
So, when the invitation came to me through my wife that we were to meet our Pastor and his wife to break bread at a restaurant of our choice I was a little surprised. Not because they knew who we were, our church has a small congregation and it is nearly impossible to not know someone who attends and worships there. Also, my wife is involved in the music department and I am involved in the audio and visual department (I play with the cameras).
Second, I know that my Pastor and his wife have had a very turbulent summer, ok, it’s really been an INSANE YEAR for them but this past summer they pretty much spent it living in a camper at one of the local campgrounds. A very nice campground but if you had to spend 5 or 6 weeks living out of a camper and trying to run a church while you look for a house you nerves and temper would be a bit strained. So, just 2 weeks ago they finally moved out of the camper and into a new home. (Not newly built just new to them.)
And, in my way of thinking at least, a person or persons who’ve just moved into a house would not want to go to dinner in Portsmouth on a Thursday night at a restaurant they’ve never heard of and try to enjoy a meal at a table where I am one of the two guests. But they did. This really speaks to their mental facilities in these golden memory years that seem to be approaching them. (Maybe I will call the number of a good Psychiatrist for them) Heck, I have friends I’ve known for almost 20 years that would rather have bamboo shoots shoved in their eye sockets before spending time with me on an adult level. And I consider them GOOD friends too.
But I went, and I arrived about 30 minutes early, found a quiet table where I could sit with my back against a wall and see the entrance. The waiter was barely conscious of my arrival and my request for my water so I had to chase him down to place that order. He was hiding under the bar when I found him. Seriously, he was literally squatting under the bar. I gave him my order and headed back towards the table only to see my Pastor and his bride come through the door. I motioned to the table we were to sit at and after the initial greeting of handshakes and hellos we sat. The waiter arrived, slammed my water down and turned to leave. He was sweating, red in the face and looked like the mafia had just threatened to kill his family. He didn’t ask the new arrivals if they were thirsty or if they needed anything. He just turned and headed for the bar.
We called him back. Placed some drink orders and he left. What would you have done? He came back with their drinks and I ordered some appetizers just so I would not have to talk too much. This is a good thing in most cases. Which, looking back now, I should not have worried too much about. I mean, c’mon, I was dining with a Pastor and his wife! They make their living talking. And that’s what they did. I actually enjoyed listening to them and the stories they shared. When I was asked a question I answered it to the best of my ability and made a mental effort to not use the more colorful of language I have been known to use. We spoke of cars, books, fishing, and bike riding and camping. We also spoke of the direction our church is moving in and all the garbage we as a Christian Body have been through over the past couple of years.
Then my wife arrived and I was off the hook! She loves to talk and loves to tell stories. God, I love her. Once she sat down the waiter showed up looking a bit calmer and took our dinner orders and it seemed a bubble of healthy conversation and safety enveloped us. I relaxed.
Dinner arrived and there was no respite in the flow of tales that were being told. Dishes were cleared and still more conversation. Dessert arrived and stories were revealed. Those dishes were cleared and the bill prepared. Still more was said. Laughter ensued and our bubble of happiness grew. The restaurant closed down, the barmaid was vacuuming and we still sat and talked. Eventually we rose from our table and made the way outside where we stood on High street and spoke for another half an hour. Something that none of us would have done 25 years ago.
Eventually, we said our goodbyes, hugs were traded, an invitation to have dinner again was offered and we went our separate ways.
I drove home in silence, following my wife, knowing it had been a good night all around. My nervousness about making a complete buffoon of myself had been waylaid against the rocky shore of my fears.
Will we ever dine again in that bubble of safety and love? I don’t know. I hope so.
Thank you Dr. Jim and Lynnette for a great evening.