A morning with my son…
James Arthur and I left the house at 7:30. It was time for daddy to take the child out of the house so the girls could get some sleep. Time for daddy and son to have a little adventure time. Not sure what it is but there is something, for me, about going out to breakfast with my son. It’s not like lunch or dinner. It’s quieter, it’s the beginning of the day and if I’m prepared I get to treat myself while sharing time with my son.
The diner was typical, that’s what makes it great. Stainless steel, mushroom like counter stools with vinyl toppers and crowded booths. But the best part is the people.
I couldn’t help but listen; even when there is no one sitting around you – diners are like giant listening tubes. Two men sat at the end of the counter, old men, whom if they sat quietly would give off the dignity of age. One was trying to sit quietly but it wasn’t quite his nature and the other was proclaiming “that if he were president, when the troops left Iraq he would leave a big sign that said, ‘We’ll be back’ because it’s just not right what’s happening over there. We should wipe em, wipe em clean. They’ve got these families and they all live together and they fight and we can’t attack them. Wipe em clean, I say, wipe em clean”. The old man brayed with the kind of laughter that makes you wonder if something’s wrong, even after you’ve heard it a few times.
The quieter man, I think, felt it was his duty to sit and listen. He gave a couple of resigned “yes’s” and “Yup’s”, as if he had nothing better to do with his time and he understood that any other response would prompt a reply he really wasn’t ready to address. He was comfortable where he was.
Another old man came in, alone. He asked to no one in particular but with the assumption that it was me “why is that car getting so excited out there?”. I looked at him, looked at my son and looked at the car keys in his hand. “My son likes to play with the buttons on the key, he’s the one exciting the car”. The old man laughed. His good, stoic nature coming through. He had gotten a jolt when he stepped peacefully and un-interrupted from his car this morning, perhaps thinking of his day or of the pancakes and sausage he was about to enjoy in peace. What does a random honk and flashing lights from an unmanned vehicle to do your state when your state is peaceful pancakes? It must have jared the man and he brought with him the remnants of his fight or flight reaction to his question but seeing it was a beautiful, smiling, rosy cheeked child who was responsible for the disruption of his world, his good nature took over with a smile and he was back to pancakes in peace.
We ate our breakfasts. Yogurt shake with blueberries (or in Babyspeak “Yohgit sheek”) and omlettes with diner veggies, potatoes and rye toast, a hot, black coffee and ice water. The two old men continued in their way. The bray-er and the comfortable one. And the solitary man waited for his pancakes, he wore a hearing aid in his left ear, a winter flannel and horn-rimmed glasses that all the hipsters are wearing today.
As much as I got the feeling of a terrified child when listening to the old, braying man, I got a feeling of deep, solidity from the pancake man; he was a man who had worked earnestly all his life and in his older years his confusion at the world was tempered by his understanding of himself and his values.
And so there we sat, a young, curly haired, bright-eyed child, an in love father and three old men living in the world their way. James-Arthur stood up in his high chair and proclaimed “Tractew, daddy ah see tractew” and I knew it was time to go. I smiled at my amazing depth of fortune and of the blessed life I’ve chosen to live, picked up the check and said “Good Morning” to all. I lifted my son in my arms and all eyes followed us out in silence…wondering. As we stepped into the blowing cold of a coming New England winter we both saw what we had really come for, what we had waited, patiently, to see. The old, yellow bulldozer sat across the lot. That was the the “tractew” and off we went into the wind and the world to see it.