Your parents only took you out to dinner twice when you were growing up.
I asked you about it recently:"Old Country Buffet and Sizzler, right?"
You answered, "OCB and Ponderosa ... And Oh," you paused, "it was great ..."
I could see the aisles of side dishes in your eyes. Creamed corn. Mac and cheese. The big slab of beef under the hot lights ... The soft serve machine! Nirvana for a young boy sustained souly on hearty but homemade casseroles.
I wonder if you ordered a Coke. No. I'm sure it was water. "Nine waters please," your dad must have said a little nervously.
It's the same kind of nervousness you have when we go for walks like we did tonight and I spot an apple tree I had never noticed before and I get so ridiculously excited that I uncontrollably jump for apple after apple while 4 small dogs yip and nip and yap into the calm evening air. Shattering it.
"No, they're great. They're Granny Smith's," I yell. "I'm going to make a tart,"
jump, ker jump, ker plunk, ker plunk.
Apples falling on my head. Dogs gone wild. I suggest we bark back and you run away. Alright, walk away real fast.
As I caught up I studied your bearded profile and thought that I like how you get embarrassed when I don't. I like that you're sensitive and strong but still seven years old in some ways. Still surveying the big wide world with kind appreciation. Still polite as you were at Ponderosa that special night.
"Your children are so well behaved," the waitress must have told your mother.
"Thank you," I'm sure she whispered back.