Yesterday was a rare day of eating lunch out at the Katfish Kabin, yum yum, my fav. The buffet at the Katfish Kabin is a risk, because I always want the occasion to be perfect and sometimes when we go we can’t get a seat and the fish have been sitting too long in the warming tray. Yesterday the noon crowd had thinned out, the seating was easy, and we had to wait a tiny bit for the catfish to come from the kitchen, just fried and very hot. I snagged a table in a empty corner of the back room and waited for Vernell to join me. What could be better for two friends who seldom get to eat out or visit each other?
Except by the time Vernell brought her tray and sat down, the table next to us began filling with up with hefty, hungry, HAPPY women. Hefty, hungry, happy, LOUD women. First there were four, then six, seven, eight. Did I tell you they were happy? And LOUD? And that there were ten before they were all seated? Ten hefty, hungry, happy, LOUD women?
Vernell has a soft voice, and my hearing, it isn’t what it used to be. I felt tricked and abused. I thought about changing tables, but that would have been obvious and cranky, throwing the happy women, the waitresses, and Vernell and me all off-kilter. In desperation I imagined me standing up, prim as a librarian, tapping on my glass, and roaring, “WILL YOU PLEASE HOLD IT DOWN!”
Also nada. They probably couldn’t have heard me, anyway.
Then it occurred to me to visualize being able to hear everything Vernell was saying. Perfectly.
And I could. And for some reason, though she has older ears than mine, she seemed to be hearing me, too, without my having to raise my voice. Instead of listening to the roar next to us and that voice racketing in my head telling me about our lousy luck, I listened to Vernell. The conversation was swell, and did I say the fish were hot? Hot! Lunch was everything I always want it to be, but don’t always get.
“That sure was noisy,” Vernell said as we left. “It sure was,” I said. “That was a noisy group,” she said, three times before we got to the car. Probably because she still felt as stunned as I had before I gave up defending myself from the noise and started listening to her. Probably she didn’t know I was contemplating positive thinking, and how powerful it is. And that group?—they were like rain or wind or the hot, hot sun—a force of nature I really couldn’t control, not an enemy to be attacked and condemned. If I could decide to hear Vernell under the surge of their voices, what might I decide to do next?
She probably couldn’t figure out why I agreed with her and was still grinning. How could I explain to her when I get a gift like that, I’m always HAPPY?