When my speech was done, the last thing I wanted was to eat lobster with the Royal Family...

I am at a bar. It’s loud. There is live music. And cheeseburgers. I missed dinner tonight because I was making a speech at a dinner banquet. Which is ironic when you think about it.

Everyone at this big banquet was eating hors d’oeuvres, sipping expensive chardonnay, and chowing down on Maine lobsters the size of baby grand pianos.

I could hardly keep my mind on my speech because the ballroom was full of people in tuxedos, all wearing little plastic bibs, making a chorus of slurping, sucking, licking sounds.

A woman at the head table who looked like Queen Elizabeth II was wearing a bib. She kept asking me, “Now, how exactly were you invited to this dinner again?”

Each time I answered, she would get this far-away look in her eyes and start sucking meat from a lobster leg like a baby Wolverine.

So I felt out of place. I felt even worse when the waiter informed me that the bar didn’t stock Natural Light.

Pretty soon, Queen Elizabeth forgot all about me. Butter sauce dripped down her chin, all over her bib. She would lick her hands violently when she didn’t think anyone was watching. And I don’t mean just her fingers. This woman was actually licking her forearms and her tennis bracelet.

When my speech was done, the last thing I wanted was to stick around and eat lobster with the Royal Family, so I found a beer joint that was open late. Which is where I am now.

It’s a dump, and there are lots of people here. There’s a guy playing guitar. He plays a rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” and sings in a voice that is faintly reminiscent of the late Daffy Duck.

The lady bartender gives me a menu and asks, “What’re you so dressed up for?”

“I was just at a banquet.”

“Wow. Fancy pants.”

“You shoulda seen them eat lobster.”

She taps my menu. “Make sure you try our onion rings. They’re famous.”

So I order a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a three-dollar beer. My father was an onion ring connoisseur. I never understood why he was so crazy about onion rings, but he could tell everything he needed to know about a restaurant based solely upon their onion rings. He would rate them on a scale of one to ten.

There is a young man next to me at the bar who looks sad. He is staring at his beer. He orders a burger and onion rings, but he doesn’t touch them. I try to make conversation, but he’s not going for it.

He’s not here long. Soon, a young lady walks through the door. His demeanor changes. He’s happy. They hug for a long time. He orders her a vodka cranberry. They move to the dancefloor. I overhear them ask the guitar player to play something slow.

The musician agrees, then selects a ballad that is not neither soft nor sweet. In fact, it sounds more like tactical ground missiles being launched from a nuclear silo.

So the young couple wanders outside to the empty parking lot. There, they slow dance together beneath a streetlamp with nobody watching.

The bartender asks me, “Hey, where’s the guy who was beside you? Did he leave?”

I point out the window to the couple.

The bartender sees them. She smiles. Her eyes are wet. She calls a server over. I overhear her say to the server, “She’s back.”

“Where was she?” the server asks.

“She was getting treatment in Texas.”

This is all she says. She boxes his food and pours his beer into a plastic cup.

I keep my eye on the dancing lovers. They stop swaying. They lean against the side of a white Nissan. They are looking at the stars. He’s holding her.

Another server asks, “Who is she, again?”

“That’s J.T.’s girlfriend.”

“Is that who the vodka cranberry was for?”

“Yeah. I guess her treatment’s over.”

“No, not over. My mother had the same kind she’s got. You never quit holding your breath. It’s never over.”

“How long was she at MD Anderson?”

“A little while.”

“I have a friend who beat cancer.”

“Cancer sucks, man.”

The guitar player is now playing “Runnin’ With the Devil” by Van Halen in a style that sounds exactly like a North Atlantic whale mating with a semi-truck on I-65.

I pay my bill and leave a tip. Before I go, the bartender stops me. “Hey,” she says. “Can you give this box of food to them on your way out?”

She nods to the couple.

I am a writer, so I say sure.

On the way to my vehicle, I hand the man his Styrofoam box. I hate to interrupt an intimate moment. I have enough of my mother in me to think about trying, but I chicken out.

All I see are two people who don’t want to let each other go because there’s no telling what would happen if they did.

They open the box. They split the hamburger between themselves.

The young man lifts an enormous onion ring and says to me, “Hey! Have you tried the onion rings here? On a scale of one to ten, they’re a ten.”

How do you like that.

Sometimes you learn things about yourself when you least expect it. You learn what you’re made of. You learn about sadness. And joy. And love. But tonight, I learned that I’d rather eat onion rings with good people than eat lobster with the Queen.


  1. Sandi. - October 16, 2019 6:31 am

    I wonder what the waiter at that fancy banquet would’ve said if you had asked for a Styrofoam box to put you lobster and butter sauce in before you left the table?! Queen Elizabeth’s twin might have fainted!

  2. Elizabeth - October 16, 2019 10:15 am

    Oh Sean, me too!

  3. Beth Ann Chiles - October 16, 2019 10:49 am

    Now I am craving onion rings….

  4. Kat - October 16, 2019 11:38 am

    💕we thank you, Sean, for another beautiful story 💕

  5. Steve Winfield - October 16, 2019 11:53 am

    I can’t help but wonder if any of the high falooting lobster suckers will read this.

  6. Penn Wells - October 16, 2019 12:12 pm

    No, Sean, you’ve known that for a long time… and so have we.

  7. Joe Patterson - October 16, 2019 12:31 pm

    Thanks I am with you

  8. Marilyn - October 16, 2019 12:46 pm

    There’s a lot of meaning in this story. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Amy Patterson - October 16, 2019 1:30 pm

    Thanks for another fabulous story Sean! 😊

  10. Harriet - October 16, 2019 2:10 pm

    Me too Sean. I love this story.

  11. Connie Havard Ryland - October 16, 2019 3:03 pm

    I love this. Thank you for the sweetness you bring to our lives. God bless. Love and hugs.

  12. Jonni Webb - October 16, 2019 3:12 pm

    Had to read this one out loud to my friends. ❤️O

  13. Linda Moon - October 16, 2019 4:28 pm

    I love irony and coincidence. My Mom looked like Queen Elizabeth II. She would have liked you and never forgotten about you, either. I am, coincidentally, currently reading the Memoirs Of The Duke Of Windsor, the Queen’s son. You would have loved eating Sunday dinners with my mother – The Queen – and the rest of us – Her Royal Family. We are good people, and she would never have licked her hands. I was treated for and beating cancer at M.D. Anderson several years ago. I hold my breath every day, because it’s back. That sucks, for me and lots of other people I know and love. You said “Sure” to the bartender and gave that box of food to the couple because you are kind, Writer! And that is why I read you every day!!

  14. Claudia - October 16, 2019 5:09 pm

    As always I cried. And that’s good.

  15. GaryD - October 16, 2019 5:13 pm

    Sadness? I know it too well.

  16. Linda Chipman - October 16, 2019 5:34 pm

    The last sentence is priceless!

  17. Edna B. - October 16, 2019 6:53 pm

    What a beautiful story! You just made my day again, Sean. Thank you. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  18. Robert Chiles - October 16, 2019 7:51 pm


  19. Maxine - October 16, 2019 10:13 pm

    Sean, you ARE a keeper. God bless your loving heart.

  20. Shelton A. - October 16, 2019 10:20 pm

    Here’s to you, Sean. Snooty people turn me off-especially while they eat messy food. Glad you got to see some good folks. Sorry about the band.

  21. billy j bowling - October 16, 2019 10:42 pm

    On a scale of one to ten…..this one was a ten!

  22. Tim House - October 17, 2019 2:05 am

    Wow… Just wow. <3

  23. Jenny Young - October 17, 2019 1:56 pm

    That is so sad. You would surprised how many of the ‘queen’s’ guests might be carrying huge hurts just like the people at the bar. It’s sad that we can’t seem to reach across the divide to encourage people in any circumstance.

  24. Kathy Vadeboncoeur - October 17, 2019 5:54 pm

    Yup. I enjoy good onion rings too

  25. Sandi - October 17, 2019 8:33 pm

    Sean, You are a gem.

  26. Mary Ellen Hall - October 21, 2019 10:33 am


  27. Mark 3:26 - October 23, 2019 8:38 pm

    Nice story. Made me laugh and that is always good. I get 16 ounce cans of PBR for 3 bucks. My first beer ever. Onion rings are easy to do but difficult to earn a 10.
    I posted a too long and too sad confessional about “Pennsylvania” and an old friend who is gone and another reader told me to let him go and forgive myself.
    I am going to take her kindness to heart because that’s why I read your work.
    We don’t always live in our moments but that is what it seems you are all about.
    Thanks for connecting me with someone who cared. Next time I’ll be funny…

  28. Dawn Bratcher - October 26, 2019 5:09 am


  29. Gigi - November 10, 2019 6:12 am

    “Licking her tennis bracelet”
    You are such a good judge of character.

  30. Donna McPherson - November 10, 2019 1:19 pm

    “A whale mating with a semi-truck on I-65” lol. I am acquainted with that sort of singing. Glad the had good onion rings….

  31. Sandie - November 10, 2019 3:32 pm

    You’re making assumptions about people you know nothing about, and you’re making fun of them. I’m not seeing the good side of that

  32. Robin Ann - November 10, 2019 7:21 pm

    I agree

  33. Steve W. - November 10, 2019 9:39 pm

    Making assuptions? Sometimes how people treat you is all you need to know about them.
    Love you Sean.
    (I’ve played in a few hundred of those same bars.)

  34. Michael Gill - January 30, 2020 4:45 pm

    Thank you.


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