Some mornings, I crave a fast-food egg and cheese muffin from a certain place, even if I could prepare one at home. I won’t mention the place, except to say it has yellow arches and it’s near Fort Detrick on Rosemont Avenue.
Regardless of the day, as I sit and enjoy my breakfast, I see at another table a foursome, or more, of senior citizens, having a good time telling stories, nodding, smiling.
Sometimes, the group has what I can best describe as a chairman, keeping everyone on topic and encouraging participation from each one in the group. I find myself thinking that, when I am older, I hope to have a similar breakfast group — until I remind myself that I turned 75 last summer.
How wonderful to spend a leisurely bite at a fast-food restaurant or anyplace where there’s no necessity to vacate your space for waiting customers.
The conversations always seem happy, or at least entertaining. No one looks bored.
There may not always be agreement, but conversations are honest, direct.
Some may scoff and say, “Look at those old farts jawboning.”
Yet, one of America’s earliest authors describes such a scene in his beloved yarn “Rip Van Winkle”: “… (a) perpetual club of the sages, philosophers and other idle personages of the village, which held its sessions on a bench before a small inn .... Here they used to sit in the shade through a long, lazy summer’s day, talking list-lessly over village gossip, or telling endless, sleepy stories about nothing. But it would have been worth any statesman’s money to have heard the profound discussions ....”
Such casual conclaves and their candid conversations are a treasure in many ways.
First, to surround yourself with lifelong friends, perhaps workplace peers, neighbors and chums. They share memories, triumphs, disappointments, old jokes and tragedies.
The chat could just as easily become sharing valuable information — recommending a physician, where to go for a deal on a new car, or the best route to avoid rush-hour traffic.
There are shared solutions to problems: “Ed, I’m telling you, the best way to avoid the deer and rabbits eating your garden is to use that new repellent at Southern States ....”
Yes, we do have social media to keep in touch, but there is ultimately no substitute for the immediacy of face-to-face conversation in groups. When we’re not face to face, we miss facial expressions and body language that communicate as effectively as words, maybe better.
Thankfully, there are live conversations so rich that these get-togethers will virtually never see a cellphone.
In the 1981 film “My Dinner with Andre,” director Louis Malle puts two men who’ve not seen one another in years together for a dinner conversation. While the film has other underlying themes, one is the lost art of conversation. Perhaps the IMDb score of 7.7 out of 10 gives a nod to this lost art.
There are many venues for gathering. Frederick boasts a bevy of them without pressure to vacate after a meal.
My hands-down favorite spots are the Frederick County brew pubs. There are also wineries and distilleries.
Virtually all are comfortable; without pressure; and, in most cases, offer varied and delicious food-truck fare with your favorite libation.
They have individual character, reflected in their offerings, decor, clientele and location. Carroll Creek has two brew pubs next to one another, Idiom Brewing and Steinhardt Brewing, yet they are charmingly different. Families are welcome, and nonalcoholic libations are available.
Whether you plan to spend a few moments with friends while running errands, or while away a few hours deep in chats with friends, you can do so at these and other popular venues.
Indeed, they are designed to encourage celebrating one another’s company. Give it a try.
Not every conversation needs to be on the ubiquitous cellphone. And you don’t need to be 75 years old.
Steve Lloyd lives in Clover Hill and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, where he’d be happy to chat over astronomy, vintage sports car racing and more.
It’s true isn’t it, even in our crazy divided world some wonderful exchanges, no matter how ‘trivial’, still take place around tables everywhere. Overheard from the next booth in a breakfast place in the wilds of Arizona ranch country some time ago: ‘He’s a nice guy, but he’s tighter’n tree bark.’ And awhile later from his companion—you could tell by their outfits that they were both cowboys—“You know, I’ve been giving something to my cows that was recommended to me by the Extension people and they’re not getting sick or dying anymore. I’m thinkin’ of taking it myself!”
“Yes, we do have social media to keep in touch, but there is ultimately no substitute for the immediacy of face-to-face conversation in groups.” That was my mantra as an adoptee when I also became an adoptive parent at the advanced age of 44. Join an in-person support group. Attend adoption workshops. Connect with peers personally. I wrote on it. I was published. I was reprinted. I’m told I was a handout to adopting parents. I was insistent because I grew up anonymously adopted in a vacuum of information or support. In fact what I liked about adopting from China was, (1) you can’t pretend they’re not adopted if you are not Asian and (2) adoption was done in groups. Instant extended family in a similar situation. And if you ask why I stress the importance of feeling accepted while different, situations can provide this. Not the fawning “oh you’re so cute I can’t stand it” acceptance (no avoiding that, though) 😆 just a normalizing in-person influence. Online support groups don’t bring that. Lots of parents stayed online or dropped out when parenting got serious and replaced it with nothing. Because when you become a parent you become all-knowing. I segued to in-person support groups and events. 25 years later, the relationships that I have with adoptive parents are the ones that I met in person, even though many of the relationships I developed online while waiting to adopt were quite intense. I even met some of those people in person. Their daughters are our daughter’s closest friends, and that for me was the biggest reason to make those connections in person. They don’t remember a time they didn’t know each other, but I do. Sometimes even parents who aren’t adopted can get a sense of how lonely it could be. They reached out through a support group and are still my friends. That happened online too, but I don’t always have a keyboard. I do have a hug.
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