Who Will Lead Whom?
An Excerpt from Cane Confessions
With the spring sun warming me through the French doors, I sat on the top step that led down to the laundry room, cell phone in hand. I was speaking to him, a friend from long ago.
I leaned into the phone to hear better as he asked, “So what was your favorite country?”
“Oh, I don’t know. They each had their own special flavor.” Flavor? We weren’t talking ice cream here.
“Well, I once lived in Florida,” he said, as if it were just around the corner and hardly worth mentioning.
“Florida’s great. It’s like a foreign country. Do you know how many alligators live there?”
“So if there are alligators, it makes a place, foreign?” he bantered.
As we chatted, the laughter flowed like water from our backyard pump that continued to run even after my three-year-old niece released the lever. I remembered how she held her hands under the water and giggled until it stopped. That warm May afternoon, I let myself feel the laughter with the same abandon. Long after the call finished, I found myself smiling as some incidental comment came to mind.
May slipped into June and the calls increased until we spoke nearly every day. As we neared the end of June, I surprised him. “Guess what? My brother and I are headed to Toledo for the Fourth of July weekend. Do you live very far from there? If you can get there, I’m thinking, well…maybe, we can …”
He jumped in. “Meet? Or technically, meet again?”
I held my breath. Was a meet-up wise? Would the reality match up with what I had built in my mind?
He responded quickly. “Well, yeah. How could we not?”
I let out my breath, relief flooding through me. “We’re just passing through so we’ll be in Toledo for a couple of hours.”
“That’s cool. There’s a neat restaurant called Tony Packo’s, if you want to meet there.”
“Tony Packo’s. That name sounds familiar….” If finally came to me. “That’s from M*A*S*H. My family was a huge fan of that sitcom. Wasn’t there some funny episode about Corporal Klinger radioing that restaurant for an order of some hot dogs?”
“That’s the one. They were thirty-five-cent hot dogs. He convinced them to send them all the way to Korea during the war. That was a real restaurant in Toledo.”
I laughed. “My brother’s gonna’ love it. He’s probably even been there. He watches all the re-runs. Yeah, that’s a great idea!”
A short pause and the voice on the other end of the phone teased, “How will I know you?”
“I’ll be the one with the cane.”
“I’ll wait for you in the parking lot,” he said, “and lead you in.”
“Are you out of your mind? I’ll lead you in.”
The next day I received an email from him. Who knows how these things happen? Funny how we started off chatting, sharing stories of each other’s lives and the next thing you know, we’re talking about meeting and who’s going to lead the other into the restaurant when we’re together. I barely saw the rest of the message. My eyes kept going back to those words. Who would be leading the other … a touchy subject.
I didn’t learn to use my cane to have anyone lead me into any restaurant. Well, at least we were clear on that issue. I turned my attention to what I would wear on our date. Smart? Casual? Sophisticated? What outfit subtly radiated ‘world traveler savvy’?
As I packed for our out-of-town trip, I jotted down a few essentials. Toothbrush. Toothpaste. Cell phone charger. Oh yes, lipstick. Can’t forget that.
I wondered what the trip ahead would bring?
When have you gone on a trip when you just didn’t know how it would turn out? Was it for work or pleasure? Did it meet your expectations?
You have just read an excerpt from “Who Will Lead Whom” by Amy L. Bovaird Copyright March 10, 2016. Don’t forget to leave a comment!