Remember those pancakes at IHop? The ones I ate while finishing The Footprints of God? The smile on my face as I chowed-down was due, in no small part, to something that happened as I entered the restaurant. Read on, denizens, and see what filled my heart. Just another reason I love Tucson!
***********************************************************It was late and dark and cold. I was alone. I wasn't anxious about my safety, but I consciously chose a parking space close to the entrance, under a light pole and near a family group who were just exiting their car.
I took my time, not wanting to open my door into them. I collected my wallet and my novel and closed the sunroof. By the time I beep-locked The Schnozz my safety net people were approaching the door of the restaurant.
There were 4 of them - an abuela, a mom and a teenaged boy and girl. The kids were just a little bit more dressed up than is usual for Tucson teens. Not fancy stuff, but their outfits had obviously been chosen with care. His jeans weren't sagging and his top hat sat at a jaunty angle on his carefully gelled hair. She was fingering her pretty bracelet which matched the clip in her hair.
It could have been one of those awkward moments, when the young man's eyes met mine. He was holding the door for the women to pass through. Not begrudging the action, but doing it with grace and a smile. But I was 20 feet away and his party was moving to the hostess station without him. It could have been awkward.
It wasn't. There was a huge smile on his face as he stood there, patiently waiting for me to cross the lot from my car to the doorway. I was impressed. Very very impressed.
The bright lights glinted off his orthodontia as he grinned in response to my kudos and compliments. You are so well-behaved. Thank you for reminding me that there are still mannerly children in the world. I rattled on. The Cuters, had they been there, would have been cringing. Enough already, Mom. But I didn't care. He was wonderful and it needed to be said.
Are these your grown-ups? What a wonderful job you've done raising him... and then I realized that I'd mis-judged the situation. This was a chaperoned date. He was out with his girlfriend and her mom and grandmother. Some part of him was showing off and I was part of that story. As I covered my tracks and centered the compliments on him rather than them, I watched the girl's eyes swell with pride. As she glowed, he grew taller.
The hostess arrived and escorted them to their booth. We said our goodnight's as they walked away, ladies first, the young gentleman bringing up the rear, his hand gently encouraging his lady friend to go first. And then, as they left the lobby area and entered the restaurant proper, he took off his hat.
He took off his hat. Someone had taken the time to inform him that gentlemen do not cover their heads while dining and he'd heard it. Loud and clear. Good behavior had been internalized and there he was, in the exact situation where manners would earn him brownie points, and he had the tools to glean them.
I couldn't resist. You are really perfect, aren't you? I called after him.
He turned, and smiled. Was it triumph? Glee? Self-satisfaction? Pride? I'm not sure. I do know that there was not a hint of embarrassment anywhere to be found.
I smiled all the way through my all-you-can-eat-pancakes. And I paid their dinner check. Just added it to mine and walked out the door. I didn't wait to see how they reacted; I did it more for me than for them. It seemed to be the least that I could do for the joy that he'd given me.
It was a real Tucson Moment.
Can you tell why I love my town?