Early Sunday afternoon and the church crowd had taken over the deli. (Note: It’s one of the “quick service” restaurants – you know, a baby step up from fast food where you wait longer to order but they bring it to your table. If you call it fast food, they’ll give you plain potato chips instead of delicious French fries…wait a minute.) Anyway, the place is packed with do-gooders looking to hobnob after the Sunday service. I was one of them.
David, our church’s music minister, had invited Melissa and me out to lunch in order to acquaint ourselves with a visiting family. The Landons had set up household in the same small town where Melissa and I live. Truly, I can think of no better method to attract and hold visitors than the one two punch of “food & fellowship” – a free meal and connections with people in similar thread of life. The conversation was quick and plentiful and it only took me about forty five minutes to remember the names of the Landons’ five children.
As the meal wound down, someone appeared at the table with a small bowl of soft-serve ice cream. My interest was drawn away and my world narrowed. “Where did you get that?!”
The human with the ice cream (I think it was my wife) pointed to the far wall near the soda fountain. A moment later, I was on my feet excusing myself through the smattering of pedestrians. Soft serve! “Perhaps,” I began, “I’ll just stick my head under the machine and just camp out there.”
“Yea, are you sure you want to do that? That might be a health code violation.” Mark Landon was directly behind me with three of his small boys in tow.
“Just kidding.” I replied. “I’d only do that if I ever managed to get one of these machines at home.” I snatched a bowl (no bigger than my palm…curses!) and filled it with ice cream.
“Fat and happy…I like it.” Mark took a single cone and filled it with ice cream. I expected him to hand it to one of his boys and begin making another. Instead he turned and the four of them wandered back to the table.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. “No way.”
Sure enough, All four shared the same cone and NOT ONCE did any of those boys (ages 7, 5, and 4, mind you) ask for more or complain that they weren’t getting enough. It was a shock almost big enough to distract me from going back for more.
“Mark, are you going back for another?”
“Nope, I want to manage their sugar.”
Each kid got two miserable bites. Was I in the Twilight Zone?
Melissa leaned over. “Would you look at that!? I can’t help but compare this with the scene last night where you finished your French fries then began stealing your three year old son’s – over his protests!”
“Woman, go away…and when you come back, bring me some more ice cream.”
Bonus Info: Earlier in the meal I watched Amos (boy #3) take a spoon and scoop up the small pile of ketchup that was left on his plate. The boys had their plates completely clean with everything eaten…INCLUDING their condiments.