Too Much Love
There is in everyday encounters a lack of civility in our times, a dearth of friendship and even kinship, for the computer age and extreme views have tended to separate us.
As such, the egos of people feel separated as well; isolated, defensive and too often, childish. So we have those who park in handicapped spaces when they have no disability, smoke cigarettes while pumping gas, or engage in endless and tiresome intrigues to create drama in order to fulfill the empty voids in their lives.
And then the good comes out in other folks.
We were many miles from home, having our car in for scheduled maintenance. When a man pops up beside us with: “Hi, what's your name?” he asks my wife.
“She tells him.”
“Was it always that?”
“No. Used to be ….”
He smiled. “I wasn't wrong. I used to show horses and I thought I recognized you from the shows.”
And he sat down and engaged us in conversation about horses and cars and folks we knew, local good places to eat and such. We told him where we were driving to next, in order to get a good meal and what he thought of it.
Spicing his words with humor, he quipped, “It's great. You can have supper there-what others might call dinner.”
Then, unexpectedly, an older gentleman nearby chimed in, listening to our exchange about places to eat and offered others he had dined at. Not like in town, where no one speaks to anyone else, either out of habit or defensiveness. Our talking became energized and interesting, with a growing bond among the three of us.
Then, a young man appeared at my elbow, pointing at me.
“Hi, aren't you a writer?”
“Hi. Um, I write columns for a newspaper?”
“I know. I have one of your books too. Robert Hall… right?”
“Yes, that's right.”
We shook hands. My spouse offered a book title I have done years earlier.
“Yeah, that's the one. I read it,” the young man said.
Then, she reminded me of who he was and how it was we had met years earlier.
“I read your articles and thought I recognized you from your picture.”
I said, “Funny, how we met so far from home.”
“Used to work in Marion,” he explained.
As our appointment wound up, another man who worked there offered a complimentary gift to us and my wife took the time to explain to him how much it meant to her, as it reminded her of a time that was most precious from her past-sharing with him.
So we left the place, driving down the state road to our next destination: A restaurant known for being a great fish place. We entered and immediately passed a table full of people to our left-obviously a group of some sort, animatedly engaged in sharing and eating.
We were seated in a quiet area, our server attentive, hovering to wait on us, listening to our order… not impatiently running from us, not asking two or three times for the order to be repeated from lack of attention, not talking past us nor over us. Then, she at once brought our drinks and some hush puppies to munch on as we waited for the main entrée.
The words of a nearby conversation floated to our ears. Two ladies were lightly discussing their thoughts, the tone of their voices was soft, lilting and open-not the guarded type of exchange one might hear in the big city.
An elderly couple was shown a table near us.
The man called the waitress, “Dear.” You don't hear “Dear” very often these days.
Because that was then… this is now.
But you used to hear that term quite often, that is… before it became grounds to sue someone for sexual harassment. You know; when being nice was not a crime.
I was touched by him asking his companion, “Do you want more fish? Are you okay? Do you want me to call the waitress over?”
His fawning attentiveness to the lady-at an age where one assumes that familiarity usually breeds contemptproved that the old saw that went that way either was too pessimistic or just plain wrong. At least, the one who came up with it had never met this loving couple.
We left the place, relaxed as well as stuffed full of fish.
And the thought hit me. Is it just out here in the hinterland that folks are kind to each other and decent? Only out here that talking, sharing and communion with others is not a concept lost on people?
I know that caring for others is sorely missed these days.
And the title of this offering? “Too Much Love?”
Fiction… pure fiction. For there is no such thing.
By Robert L. Hall