Sudden Shifts – At the beach, enjoying the sun, nibbling on watermelon. Within seconds, the weather shifts and hail starts descending form the sky. What happens next?
I should be writing. Processing pictures. At least be going to the kitchen to get another cup of coffee. I need more coffee.
I should be packing up our stuff to go to the beach. I promised the kids we’d go today, but the forecast calls for hail. Bullets from heaven. Buckshot of the gods.
I can’t seem to move. Or think. My head is stuffed with cotton wool. Hey, remember cotton wool? Fuzzy, sort of rough? We used it to stuff things, right? Maybe we used it to clean things. Whatever.
After the long day yesterday, I can’t seem to quite wake up. Beach. Blanket. Thermal bag full of sandwiches. Do we have any cold cuts? Soft drinks? Bread. The Hell with it, we’ll buy hot dogs.
Towels. Suntan lotion. An umbrella bright with stripes. Do we still have the umbrella? Oh, right, it’s under the deck. Probably full of bugs. Spiders. Never mind. I’ll skip that.
Does my bathing suit still fit? It looked hideous last year. I looked hideous last year. Bet I won’t look any better this year. At least not in a bathing suit. Do I have a kaftan somewhere under which I could hide? No?
Let me get that cup of coffee and think about this some more.
I hear they had hail on a beach in Russia. Glad I’m not Russian because I can’t run … even with hail falling. Does that make it a Hail Mary? Sorry. It’s that kind of day.
I think I’ll watch that Sox game. Where’s the remote?
It had already been an uncharacteristically hectic week for Harold, so he looked forward to a relaxing Wednesday. After he finished his morning breakfast, he took the newspaper to a nice spot by the window and sat down to read. He was only distracted momentarily by the library’s copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sitting on the table. It seemed to beckon to him to continue the journey of the boy wizard. There was a time set aside for that sort of reading and he imagined he would resume the fanciful tale at the library where it began.
The time idled by in a leisurely sort of way that was befitting of a man in retirement. With the completion of each article, Harold looked out the window approvingly. The sun was shining, the air was at peace and so was Harold. He continued to read right up to the noon hour when it was time to get ready for the twice weekly sojourn to the Wild West Restaurant and Sports Bar. Harold would dress in his best sports clothes since he knew his appearance was important. All of the help and many of the patrons were well aware of the 1 PM arrival every Wednesday and Saturday of the well-organized man from the Midwest.
Harold arrived at the door of the restaurant precisely at 1. He thought he was the picture of sartorial excellence when in truth he was rather plain, but certainly clean and well-groomed. As usual, the staff greeted him with kindness and even enthusiasm as he headed to the same general area where he always sat for lunch. His seat by the window was taken but he chose another that was just as bright and allowed for a good view of a television. ESPN was playing for Harold, minus sound.
“Hello,” said a voice that startled Harold. “My name is Amber and I will be your waitress today.” The young woman had an armful of tattoos and maroon colored hair. Her jeans were a bit ripped on the backside. She did not look a thing like the sweet Tiffany who usually waited on Harold. “May I start you off with a drink? We have Summer Surprise on tap. It is a seasonal beer we have on tap for just four dollars.” Amber worked her chewing gum quite hard as she waited for a response from the average looking old guy from another one of the nearby retirement areas.
“Tea,” Harold proclaimed. “I will have an ice tea with lemon on the side and 1 packet of sweetener.” With that Amber was off without taking Harold’s food order. Things were not exactly routine but a little out of the ordinary would be OK with Harold. Amber soon returned, took the order and things were nicely on track for a peaceful meal.
As Harold watched the television without the sound, a noise came bellowing across the room. “Harold! Why you old son of a gun!” It was Bill, Harold’s neighbor from down the street. “What brings you here, besides the cheap lunch?” Harold did not consider the lunch cheap, but rather as economical. He also could not imagine what he did to invite Bill into his life twice in the same week. With that, Bill sat down opposite Harold.
“I just stopped in for lunch, that’s all,” Harold exclaimed. “I like the food here and the people are nice.” Bill nodded in agreement and then a brilliant idea popped into Bill’s head.
“You know, Harold, we could ride over here together on Wednesdays. You can enjoy your,” Bill paused as Amber set down Bill’s lunch, “whatever, and I can try out their other items. It will be great.” With that, Bill got up, slapped Harold on the back and said, “See ya buddy, I gotta go. I’ll call you Monday to see if you are up for our little shopping tour.”
Bill was off as quickly as he arrived. He made comments to each of the waitresses as he headed toward the door and soon the place was just a bit quieter. Harold shook his head slowly as peace returned to the table in what was his favorite spot in the room. Having Bill enter his routine once in the week was quite a lot, but twice might be more than poor, old Harold could handle. He felt he just had to limit his time with Bill. “Perhaps,” he thought, “I should switch my Wednesday lunch hour.” It was not going to make a difference.
When lunch was finished, Amber wandered over and gave a disinterested smile and left the check. She did not write her name on the back or add a smiley face as Tiffany would have done. Harold paid with his favorite bank credit card that gave cash back rewards, including 2x points for restaurants in the current month, and smiled at Amber as she brought the receipt. Harold was to hope there would be no more unscheduled adventure for the rest of the week. He had no idea what the following days would add to his otherwise perfectly planned schedule.
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