I had just spent the night with strangers. I was NOT keen on meeting new ones. Particularly, those my parents had met…. online?
“They’re lovely, Christian people, Sam. They’ve got two sons, and a daughter about your age who loves writing and also, they’re adopting this girl from the Ukraine whose name is suchandsuch and they’re leaving in so many weeks ans she lived with them blah blah blah….”
By the time we got to the ice cream place in Marion, my jaw hurt from the smile I’d been clenching. I also suffer from this irrational fear of what-i-this-stranger-hates-me? and… well, I was a wreck.
It was a shoddy little ice cream shop. Instead of being charmed by the faded photographs of bygone customers, the line roping its way around the little wooden restaurant, I grimaced. I was determined to enjoy this as little as possible. Was that a styrofoam cup for tips? The menus, they were just hastily scrawled onto white boards by some college student. The fans turned lazily, as if that little trickle of air would be enough to abate this sticky summer sweatieness.
I was nice, when they showed up, but just barely. I was shoved in a booth with the daughter and the two younger boys. But I could hear the laughter from the booth behind us, where my parents sat with theirs. Funny thing is that, of course, it wasn’t long until I was laughing too.
But you saw that coming.
Back to the photograph.
The parents dashed off to grab out ice cream, as we were all having a riveting conversation covering All Topics of Goodness (including but not limited to: Lord of the Rings, Homeschooling, Visiting Europe, Sherlock, Dr. Who, Paining, GameBoys, Jesus, and 253 others). Derek returned, with my mint-and-pretzel-and chocolate syrup sundae.
Except for that he dropped it a little, as he was holding it.
But I did manage to catch the chocolate! Just… with my hand. The chocolate went all over my hand.
And this time, the smile was real.