A Future for One Young Man
The couple sat talking quietly about the future knowing the waitress would return soon with their hamburgers and milk shakes. He dropped a couple of quarters in the miniature jukebox mounted next to their table and stared off in the distance, half listening to the music playing softly in the background. It reminded him of a time long ago, the only difference being the music would have been a lot louder then.
She reached across the table and took his hand and said softly, “You know I love you.”
“Yes,” he replied redirecting his gaze into her beautiful brown eyes.
The waitress interrupted their exchange as she placed the plates in front of each of them. She added two frosted glasses that were filled to the rim. One nearly overflowing with a savory white dessert and the other with rich chocolate both topped off with a creamy mound of whip cream resembling the snow capped Smokey Mountains at Christmas. “May I bring you anything else?”
“No, this is fine,” she said as she put the straw in her mouth and took a big slurp of the vanilla shake. “That is good”.
He poured a little mustard on the bottom half of his hamburger bun and spread it around with his knife. He stopped and took a sip of his chocolate shake and then looked up at her. “These are good shakes.”
“Do you think they are better than Tom’s?”
He squeezed the ketchup over the mustard in a spiral motion until the bun was nearly covered. He then placed the pickles, onions, and meat over the red and yellow goo. He added the tomato and lettuce, and then topped it off with the sesame seed bun. “I don’t know,” he replied. He enjoyed the Big Time Diner’s food. However, the best thing was that it reminded him of days gone by.
Tom’s was one of those good memories. Tom’s Dairy Freeze was a favorite hangout of teenagers in the fifties and sixties. He had worked there during his senior year of high school.
In a moment, he was transported back there as if in a time machine, to the night that they had met. The Vietnam War was raging heavily and he had recently returned home from his reserve military training and was visiting with Tom. He had free run of the place although he had not worked there in years. He was about to prepare a chocolate shake for himself when she walked to the window. He had known her from school several years earlier, but had not seen her in more than five years. He told Tom, “I will wait on this customer.”
“I haven’t seen you in a long time. My do you look nice. What’ll you have?” He asked looking her up and down. She is beautiful he thought.
“Two single cones of black walnut and two of vanilla,” she said smiling broadly. “I haven’t been around in a long time.”
“I’ll be right back.”
He returned in a few moments with the two cones of Tom’s special recipe black walnut for her and her sister. The two spiral topped cones of soft vanilla were for the two small girls seated in the back seat of her father’s car. “Here you go. That’ll be twenty-five cents.”
She fumbled around in her purse, pulled out a case quarter, handed it to him, and said, “I didn’t know you worked here.”
He stood holding the quarter in his hand and replied, “I don’t. I was just getting me something to eat when I saw you walk up. I had to wait on you. Are you available?”
“I’m not married if that’s what you mean,” she answered maintaining her beautiful smile.
“Are you looking for a husband?” He asked.
“No. Are you looking for a wife?”
“No. Will you go to the fair with me this weekend?”
It was that easy. Neither was looking for a permanent relationship. Maybe that is why all their friends were surprised when they married in less than three months.
“What would you like for Christmas,” she said breaking the silence and causing him to return instantly to the present.
“I haven’t thought about it.” Since they had been together, he had experienced much joy and happiness.
They had married two days before Christmas after a whirlwind romance that was more exciting than anything he had ever witnessed in the movies. They planned to marry a day earlier, on Friday night after work, but the justice of the peace was sick and unavailable. They were forced to postpone their plans until Saturday morning and hope they could locate another judicial officer who could unite them in holy wedlock.
After an early morning telephone call they made the two-hour drive to Grove Hill, the only county government agency open on Saturday. They walked briskly into the licensing area holding hands and smiling.
One of the ladies looked up and said, “We know what you are in here for. Come over here, I will take care of you.”
After a few minutes of filling out the obligatory paperwork, he paid for the marriage license and asked, “Is there anyone around who can marry us?”
“The judge is in and he will be happy to do it.”
The honeymoon included lunch in Grove Hill, a three-hour drive to Pensacola, a stop at K-Mart for some food, and a quiet dinner alone in their rented furnished house. The following morning they rose early and traveled to Mobile to prepare Christmas for the two beautiful children who were staying at her mother’s house. This was their first of many happy Christmases together.
That day he gained a completely new family who accepted him right from the start. In addition to Carolyn, Tammi, and Terri, there was mom, granddaddy, and Debra. They all gave him love and treated him with the utmost respect. He and Ray (granddaddy) became hunting and fishing buddies and best friends and they grew closer and closer over the next thirty years. Debra was dating Frank while they attended Vigor high school and would marry him soon after graduation.
Three years later, Christmas became more special because in addition to having a wonderful wife, he had petitioned for and been granted the right and privilege to become the girls daddy. The judge had commented that he could see the joy and pleasure that was in his face and that he would surely be acting in the girls’ best interest to grant them to him as his legally adopted heirs.
In another year, Christmas became even more special after the birth of a son who served to add another dimension to their family.
There have been forty-five Christmases since that first meeting at Tom’s, and each one has been more precious than the previous with the exception that granddaddy is no longer with them.
by Wayne Brady 12/26/2012