A guy came in the café the other day and asked, “Were you gone somewhere?”
“No,” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, the bulletin board has, “Welcome Home, Brent” written on it.”
“Oh,” I said. “That’s from when I was in Africa.”
“But that was weeks ago,” he said.
“Yeah, I know,” I said, “but there aren’t that many people happy to see me. I didn’t want to change the sign. It’s good for my self-esteem.”
He didn’t say anything else, but I noticed he drank his coffee fairly quickly and was out the door.
Hey, sometimes the truth hurts. In the course of living an active, purposeful life, I’m accumulating a list of actions that have caused people to be cranky with me. There was a zoning issue that two years later still has some people not speaking to me. You might think two years is a long time, but that’s not even the record. A few people are still upset with me from time I spent on the board of a nursing home eight years ago. And the café, which I carefully set up so there could be no possibility of people being annoyed, has irritated a whole new crop of people. The other night a lady blew past us, ignoring my wife’s smile and greeting. Since that’s a pretty unusual thing to have happen, I figured she must be mad at me.
We discussed it for a while and came up with several possible reasons, which made me a little tired.
It also made me very grateful for my Thanksgiving. A faction of relatives made the long trip to the prairie for the weekend. It was big fun, except the part where a cousin showed me some evidence that we have a relative who came to America from Wales in the 1600s. I find that disturbing for two reasons. First, there’s a limit to the amount of Welsh blood a guy needs, and I was already at 25%. Second, I’ve always thought I wasn’t responsible for anything in American history prior to 1880, which was a big relief. Now I can feel guilty about a whole new list of events. Still, the day was wonderful – too much food and plenty of conversation with interesting people. A couple days later, one of my sisters stopped and joined my wife and daughter in making a raft of Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses with three of our grandchildren. I stayed out of the way, although I was drawn to the gales of laughter and occasional avalanches of wayward sprinkles spilling across the floor.
Later in the evening, we all had supper together, and shortly before bedtime, I was asked to tell a story. The three of them suggested I tell the story of the Three Little Pigs and even had ideas for the characters' names. The littlest guy hung on every word, and when we reached the point in the story where the two little pigs named after his sisters ran toward his house with the big bad fox (yeah, fox . . . don’t ask why) in hot pursuit, he was absolutely trembling with excitement on my wife’s lap. When the girls pleaded to be allowed into the brick house for safety and their brother exclaimed, “YES! Of course you can come into the house, for you are my sisters, and I will defend you unto death!” he leapt and screamed with excitement.