Americana

My waitress has a smile that tells me she knows what she's talking about. You can tell a lot about someone by how they smile.

They are holding hands. I like it when young couples hold hands. I don’t see many kids do this very often anymore.

They are sitting on the same side of the booth. I like it when they do that, too.

This is why I loved the bench seats in old cars and trucks. God bless the bench seat. It’s extinct now. But before automobiles lost these long seats, young men and women would sit close when driving. They would love up against each other.

If ever my mother spotted a truck window in traffic with two heads leaning close, she would remark, “Aw, look. That girl’s holding him up so he can drive. Ain’t that sweet?”

It sure is. For a boy, there is nothing sweeter than the feeling of driving a truck with a pretty head resting on your shoulder.

The couple in the booth is somewhat of a rarity. They are not holding cellphones, they aren’t texting. They are saying things in soft voices. And it’s great.

I came here this morning for breakfast, I brought a newspaper with me. But I can’t seem to read it. Not when I am people-watching in a classic American scene.

I flick open the newsprint. I watch the couple from the corner of my vision.

They talk to each other. She is your typical teenager—happy and rosy-cheeked. He is your basic high-school boy. Skinny, a little awkward, a touch of Norman Rockwell to him.

The waitress refills my coffee. I am grateful for hot Joe this morning. I didn’t sleep well last night. The folks in the hotel room above me were having a jump rope competition that ran until the wee hours.

“Anything good in that paper?” the waitress asks, nodding to the front page.

“Not today.”

“Yeah, I can’t read the news anymore, it’s too depressing, makes me sad.”

She’s right. The newspaper is just one disaster after another placed into sentence form, with pie charts to explain it. Even the weather reports look bleak.

She goes on, “My grandfather used to say, ‘No news is good news.'”

My waitress has a smile that tells me she knows what she’s talking about. You can tell a lot about someone by how they smile.

“I got enough problems to deal with,” she goes on. “I don’t need more problems to read about.”

“What kinda problems you got?” I ask.

She laughs. “Mostly, my crazy family, you know how families are, they’re freakin’ nuts, know what I mean?”

My uncle once spent five days in his attic during the boiling Atlanta summer, assassinating invasive squirrels with a high-powered military rifle. Yes, I know.

The young couple is now leaning into each other. Foreheads pressed together. I like it when young people do that.

Would that all people could love so sincerely.

It’s too bad that I can’t see them better. I don’t want to be too nosy. I can see that they aren’t eating, they aren’t touching their coffees, either. They are only inhaling the morning together.

Two old men come through the door. The bell dings. They are hobbling on old legs. They could almost be twins. I wouldn’t be surprised if they still have bumper stickers that read, “I like Ike.”

They get a table in the corner. They order two hot mugs. They hardly speak to each other.

They are old men from Everytown, USA. They are here because of routine. Words aren’t important. The waitress refills their mugs and one old man flirts with her.

Just because he’s old doesn’t mean he’s doesn’t remember how to be charming.

She is good with him. She flirts back. I can see the years leave their faces. Something tells me she isn’t doing this for a tip, but because these are regulars. I’d put money on it.

You can tell a lot about people by the way they flirt.

The young couple stands to leave. They pay their bill at the register. The young man buys Juicy Fruit chewing gum. I didn’t know they still sold Juicy Fruit.

He leaves cash on the table. They walk toward a white truck in the parking lot that looks like a vehicle half the country grew up in. They are still holding hands.

“More coffee?” says the waitress, looking at me.

But I’m too busy watching young love in a Ford, outside the window. And I am thinking that this world isn’t as bad as the news claims.

The waitress sees what I am looking at. She grins at the couple.

“Would you look at that?” she says. “She’s holding him up so he can drive. Ain’t that sweet?”

It sure is.

21 comments

  1. Elizabeth - April 3, 2019 10:27 am

    Ain’t that sweet! Made me smile.

    Reply
  2. Estelle Sexton Davis - April 3, 2019 11:43 am

    That’s love in a small town in the south. Sweet 🎈

    Reply
  3. GaryD - April 3, 2019 11:54 am

    I’m sitting here on the couch reading this while my wife is sitting at the far end…..with all her attention on Facebook. Life was much sweeter before cellphones .

    Reply
  4. sparkerlpc - April 3, 2019 12:37 pm

    This was so great, Sean! Hey, you might want to pass the word. Facebook changed something making it harder to share your posts. But I cracked it. You click on “manage subscriptions”, then click on “Sean of the South”, then go to that day’s post and click on “read more”. At the bottom of the post is the link to share on Facebook. I share your posts almost every day. It just took me awhile to figure out how, after they took the Facebook link away from where it used to be.
    Keep on going!!

    Reply
    • Jody - April 6, 2019 4:43 am

      Thanks for the information

      Reply
  5. Connie Havard Ryland - April 3, 2019 12:55 pm

    Young love is sweet. My granddaughter just got married. They are both in college so they live with me, and I love it. Watching the love they have and the joy they bring each other keeps me hopeful for the future. I can’t stand to listen to the news anymore; it will break your heart. I prefer to watch the world around me. Love and hugs from Alabama.

    Reply
  6. Marilyn - April 3, 2019 1:04 pm

    I remember the days of the bench seats in vehicles, and when we only had radio to entertain us. Yes, I must be really old! It was a peaceful time. Keep reminding us to look for the good surrounding us! Love and peace from Ohio

    Reply
  7. rbrentwarren - April 3, 2019 1:15 pm

    In high school, a buddy of mine had a truck with a bench seat. When there were three of us jammed in there, and came to a stop light, the guy on the far right would always honk the horn and hide so it looked like the other two were getting cozy. Good times!

    Reply
    • Annie - April 3, 2019 6:27 pm

      LOL!!!!

      Reply
  8. John - April 3, 2019 1:55 pm

    Another winner Sean! I am 63 and still hold my woman’s hand, open her door, sit on the same side of the restaurant booth with her and wish I had my old truck again with a bench seat so she and I could be close to each other when we drive around town. Smart phones, social media and “staying connected” are making people less close.

    Reply
  9. AC - April 3, 2019 2:18 pm

    Brings back wonderful memories, you do that so well.

    Reply
  10. Marty from Alabama - April 3, 2019 2:22 pm

    Love how you bring life down to just pure sweetness.

    Reply
  11. Shelton A. - April 3, 2019 2:30 pm

    Good news like that is always a welcome sight! Thanks…

    Reply
  12. Jack Darnell - April 3, 2019 3:03 pm

    Bench seats? If you handled it right you could kiss for miles. I once kissed Sherry for 6 miles. did not pass a car now was I passed (I don’t think). Not much traffic at night in 1955!
    Good memories my friend,
    Thanks,
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  13. Edna B. - April 3, 2019 3:20 pm

    Wonderful memories, Sean. I love how you see the good in every situation you come across. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  14. Tim House - April 3, 2019 7:47 pm

    Great word picture…

    Reply
  15. Tommy Counce - April 3, 2019 9:30 pm

    On the second date with a cute young gal in my dad’s pickup, we picked up a hitchhiking young Airman. When he got out she stayed put. Thrilled me untold. Now 40+ years, 3 grown kids, 6 grand & 3 greats I’m more crazy about her than ever. Time flies.

    Reply
  16. Jan - April 3, 2019 10:35 pm

    When I was dating my husband in 1974-75 he had a beautiful white Ford LTD with red bench seats. I always sat as close to him as I could and loved every minute of it before and after we were married. When we went out for a date night after we were married with children we would come home, sit in the driveway in the same seat and make out before we went inside. He died two years ago, but you brought to my mind a beautiful memory of our romance in the bench seat of his LTD. Our youngest son’s name is Sean. You are my next favorite Sean, and I am so proud of both of you!

    Reply
  17. Charaleen Wright - April 4, 2019 3:42 am

    Reply
  18. Bill Heaton - April 4, 2019 1:12 pm

    Thank you, Sean. I just really needed this slice of America, small town Southern Amercia – my America – this morning. I’m smiling now, and I needed that, too. Oh, I’m fine…just better now. Thanks again.

    Reply
  19. Charlie - April 5, 2019 3:01 pm

    Write for the fun of it my friend … I too was a C student and I still Gaduated oops I mean Graduated from a wonderful University !!!! Virginia boy married a Alabama girl …Nuff said Truly Blessed!

    Reply

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