Friday, January 3, 2014

Nothing left to chance

Here it was, New Year's Eve again and the only plan we had was for the four of us to do something, anything, together. We'd had a few gracious invitations, but opted for a quieter, more intimate evening. It wasn't as if we hadn't spent quality time together, we had, but mostly that was nestled in the busy-ness of Christmas.

I am grateful my teens still want to hang out with us. They had other options.

Going on 5 p.m., we had yet to form a solid plan. We'd thrown out a list of ideas. All of us liked seeing a movie together, but trying to get four independent people to agree on one was impossible. The fallback was bowling, but one was not quit hip on that. Then it hit, we could combine bowling with our favorite hole-in-the-wall-authentic Mexican restaurant. Everyone was, finally, appeased.

When I called to check how late they served, I was perturbed to hear not late enough for us to bowl and then eat. Back to square one ... or, were we? My husband and I decided to throw caution to the wind and head toward the alley a half hour away and figure dinner out later. My youngest was non-plussed. "But, I like to know what's going to happen," she offered as we entered the highway, the point of no going back."Well, you know we're bowling, after that, we'll have to wing it." Fortunately, she was silent and unusually accepting.

I am an inconsistent bowler, possibly because I do it once a year if that often. So, when I rolled a strike, I was pleased. But not for long, too many gutter balls robbed my dose of self esteem. In a fibromyalgia relapse, my body was screaming louder than my self confidence. Honestly, I hadn't minded until a couple of good bowlers took the lane next to us and I was forced to pay attention. I feel so permeable at times.

At 7, our game was automatically stopped and I was saved further disgrace.

Neither girl liked my suggestion of shopping at Jungle Jim's, just across the street, for a food feast to take home. And, honestly, I didn't relish the idea of cooking. "How about La Rosa's?" we asked. Those were magic words.

Just around the corner, not full on New Year's Eve, we were almost exuberant. Each ordered a favorite and we had a peaceful dinner, mostly spent chewing. Before our dishes arrived, however, I had noticed the pair of older gentlemen perched at the table across our aisle. They ate together, taking their time, not making much conversation, pausing occasionally in the silence and smiling. "Hey do you think they are brothers?" I asked. "Twins," my oldest responded. "You sure, they don't look that much alike?" "Think so," she answered.

I watched them as we devoured our meal. They carried such a peace and grace about them. As we were finishing up, I sauntered over and asked if they were brothers. "Twins," they replied. "Oh my gosh, so am I and so is my husband," I offered. Well, that got the conversation rolling and into identical and fraternal varieties and how they didn't know which they were.

Somehow we gravitated to the classic cars they collect. Gerald, three minutes older (that's important in twin circles; well, not really, more just an automatic statistic), said he'd just purchased a 1959 Cadillac. I wanted to know what one looked like, so I whipped out my phone and started Googling one. "Yup, that's what they look like," Merle said. Gerald suggested a specific web site with one of the most gorgeous, finned cars I'd ever laid eyes on. "That's the one I just bought, be delivered in three weeks." "Oh," I sighed, "just like this one." "No," he said. "That exact one."

Thanks to Overstreet House of Cars
Gleaming white, sparkling silver and a lipstick red, leather interior. I said I could just see Marilyn Monroe in it. "Oh, we had a chance to buy her Cadillac, but it was in bad shape," Gerald noted.

The conversation swayed to their career as sound technicians for local concerts at Music Hall, Cincinnati Gardens and LaSourdsville Lake. They worked for Dick Clark, the Beatles and Grand Funk Railroad offered Gerald a roadie job he declined. Most of their local work was for popular radio station WSAI.

"Hey," I ventured, "do you suppose you did a Grass Roots concert at Music Hall in the early 70s?" "Was it a WSAI concert?" Merle bounced back. "Yes." "Likely it was us."

I confided that it was my first ever rock concert and that my mother had taken me and my twin sister as seventh graders and wanted to know what the sweet-smelling tobacco was. One brave lady.

Boldly I asked their ages, 76. "We take a lot of pills, but the Lord takes care of us," Gerald mentioned and Merle confirmed. "The Lord's been good to us," Gerald said looking me dead in the eyes. "Our mama raised us right." "We're Baptist but don't judge nobody," Merle added. I explained that I was Quaker and they nodded their heads. "Yeah, I know what that is," Merle said.

They seemed so serene and steadfast in their faith; unimaginable for veterans of the rock-and-roll business. "Don't you ever get mad and scream at God?" I asked Gerald. "Never," came the quick reply.

I'd been screaming a lot over the Christmas Break, spent, pushed to the limit, tested, in pain and thinking the icy water at the labyrinth looked pretty tempting, but not really.

Then again, these confirmed bachelors have really only had themselves for family. They share a duplex around the corner from this LaRosa's.

"You know, you're really interesting and I used to be a reporter, you'd make such a great story," I put out there. "Well, people have said our lives would make a good book," Gerald responded. "So, if I ever wanted to get ahold of you, how would I do that?" "Show up at the Wendy's down the street – we say that's our office," Merle instructed me.

I just may someday. In the meantime, I found their street address, just in case, and am left wondering the lesson of this chance encounter. I cherish their ease, tranquility and unflinching faith.

• Where or how has the holiday season left me?
• How did I spend New Year's Eve?
• What recent surprises have I encountered?
• What has the message been?
• What's my prayer for the new year?

peacemaking, so
all of the pieces
are amiable and agreeable

finally finding the resolution
only for it to fall apart,

so we make half
a plan, open to inspiration

when things take
a remarkable turn

as Spirit strikes
and nothing is
left to chance

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