It wasn’t quite 6:30 a.m. Early morning after a restless night, up late reading and awakened two hours later by dreams of Jimmy Carter. Yea. I know. Fat rain would have ruined even fake Texas hair. Good thing I hadn’t bothered. Living in Oregon has given me a freedom most southern women never enjoy. Pull up the pink hood, trudge through the rain, order the Starbucks and pretend that earthy look of yours is what Julie Roberts is trying to achieve.
The barista brought my drink to me. Carried it over to where I sat in the overstuffed leather chair. This kind of service is what helps define southern hospitality. The guy in the Orange Florida sweatshirt had me so distracted I didn’t know the drink was ready.
“Hi. I’m Don,” he said, standing at the end of the table, next to the other overstuffed chair.
“Hi, Don,” I said. “I’m Karen.”
“I come here every morning,” he said. He didn’t wait for me to say anything else. “My wife she don’t drive, so I drive her everywhere she needs to go. If she needs to get her nails done, or her hair cut, or the grocery store, I take her. I don’t mind. I think that’s what a husband is supposed to do — keep his wife happy. If she ain’t happy nobody is.”
He turned his head toward the gal with the long red hair, standing at the counter.
“Is that your wife?” I asked.
“She has pretty hair.”
“Yes, ” he said, grinning. “She does.” His own hair was clipped close, GI style.
“It’s our anniversary today.”
“Well, congratulations! How many years?”
“Seven. We’ve been married seven years. We met on Ballentimes day.” It wasn’t a speech impediment. That’s just how Don pronounced it.“Wow! How did you meet?”
“Some friends I work with set us up. I work at the Sheriff’s office. I do janitorial work. Keep the place clean.”
“That’s great. You have some special friends.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I took her a big stuffed bear and a box of chocolates on that first date.”
The redhead returned and introduced herself.
“Hey, Amy. Congratulations! Don told me it’s your anniversary.”
“Yeah,” she said. “It rained on my birthday, too. My birthday is Feb. 3. Today is my anniversary. I guess it will rain on Ballentimes day, too. I don’t know if that’s a jinx or not.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” I said.
“Amy works at a day care center,” Don added. “We come to Starbucks every morning. Well, not on Saturday and Sunday but every day but then.”
Routine blankets our lives in comfort, especially on mornings when fat rain falls in the Florida panhandle making it feel ever so much like Oregon.
Except for that personal space thing. Oregonians demand it. Southerners ignore it.
There’s a new pastor out at Milinda’s church. He came in from Yankee country. Said he was standing in line at a groceries or was it a restaurant? I can’t recall and it doesn’t really matter. But he and the missus were talking about something between just the two of them but then someone came up and said, “I overheard what you said and here’s what I think…”
And Pastor stood there, racking his brain and wondering, “Is this someone I should know?”
Southerners, of course, know the answer to that question. How else is the new gal at Starbucks with the wild frizzy hair and faded freckles supposed to know it’s Don and Amy’s anniversary unless they say something?
And what’s the point of life if we can’t celebrate such moments with each other?