Several months ago, I had an occasion to be at the courthouse in Warrenton. Lunch time came, and I went across the street to the Hardware Cafe.
Now I use the term “lunch,” but that’s really not correct. Historically, it was “dinner” time not lunch. Lunch is something you put in a box to be eaten later. Dinner is the midday meal, and supper is in the evening.
Nowadays, supper is something to put on by the church, dinner is the last of the three meals with lunch being in the middle. Breakfast has not been tampered with, although there’s something called “brunch,” usually around midmorning. I guess for midafternoon someone will come up with “dupper,” but this hasn’t happened yet.
At any rate, I went to this cafe and was trying to figure out how it worked when a man already seated realized that I was somewhat confused. He told me to place my order at the counter, select a seat and my food would be served, which I did. I found a place near the man, sat down and conversation quickly followed.
All through the meal there was a mutual exchange of information – where are you from, what do you do, family members, world situation and the usual chitchat went on during the meal.
He then told me he was going to have a birthday party and wanted me to come. I replied with a polite noncommittal, “That would be nice.” About two weeks later I received an invitation in the mail asking me and my wife to the party. I had no idea where he got my address.
Well, my wife and I went. He lived out in the country from Warrenton, and we had no trouble finding his house. When we arrived, his front yard was covered with chairs and people, a country band overflowed from the porch and, around at the back of the house, there were rows of table and two barbecued pigs amid the fixings.
Of all of those people we knew only one, the honoree. This was the result of a chance meeting at the Hardware Cafe. We had a great time.
Recently, I was back in the Hardware Cafe at noon time. When I ordered my meal I told the waitress some guy had asked me to his birthday party at my last visit there. She chuckled. I had been served and was eating my food when I heard a voice say, “Will someone be eating with you?”
I looked up. It was the same guy. I invited him to join me, which he did. We had a fine time rehashing his birthday party and covering the world situation. When I left I told the waitress, “That’s the same fellow who asked me to his birthday party.” She rather curtly and responded, “I knew it.”
Some times these chance encounters add a little spice to an otherwise humdrum day. It was quite enjoyable. I’m looking forward to his family reunion.
Milton Fields is a raconteur and retired lawyer living in Rocky Mount.