I’m a natural busybody. My tendency to chat up complete strangers drives Studly Doright crazy. He’s something of a misanthrope and I’m whatever the opposite of a misanthrope is. A posithrope?
When I’m on a solo journey as I have been these past couple of days I indulge my urge to make polite conversation with fellow diners and shoppers.
This morning I had breakfast at a Panera Bread adjacent to my hotel in Paducah, Kentucky. The place was hopping, but I couldn’t help but notice an older gentleman at the counter with his perhaps 9-year-old grandson.
The man was obviously a regular there–everyone knew him by name–and he was proudly introducing the little boy who was visiting from Ohio.
The two of them ordered ahead of me and took a seat at a large table, joining three other men. Once I had my wonderful cinnamon crunch bagel and creme cheese (oh my heavens!) I found a seat near this group.
Surreptitiously I listened in on the good natured ribbing, noticing that the grownups included the little boy, especially giving him a hard time about his Cincinnati Reds. As I ate and pretended to read a newspaper I realized the men were part of a regular men’s coffee group, casually solving the world’s problems from a their corner at Panera Bread.
I remembered my own days of sitting with my Grandaddy and his coffee group at various cafes in Floydada and Lockney, Texas. Sweet nostalgia overtook me, so of course I had to say something.
As I left I stopped by the table surrounded by these older men and told the grandfather how having coffee with my own granddaddy during my childhood had made an impact on me. “Those were the best days of my life,” I said.
He smiled and patted me on the hand. I had to leave before I started to cry.