It’s an old cafe. The coffee cups are bottomless. The waitress wears jeans. On the walls are mounted bass and a few buck heads.
There are old men in the corner, seated around a table with mugs. These are rural men with old-world accents like your granddaddy probably had.
They are discussing crucial topics like:
“Hey, Charlie! What the hell was the guy’s name who used to date Sharon? You know, he had the big ears and always looked like he’d just sucked a lemon?”
They say things like:
“Did you hear Marilyn’s son built his house with the kitchen window facing his mama’s kitchen window so in the mornings they can wave to each other when they make coffee?”
“Looks like Mike is running for mayor again, can you believe it? That skinny-dipping stunt he pulled in high school is gonna come back to bite him, just watch.”
These are the conversations you hear from old men with rural accents.
Their reparte doesn’t follow one line of thought. One man says something. A man across from him says something unrelated.
Everyone gets a turn. Round and round it goes, until you realize they aren’t actually talking to each other. They are simply reporting the news.
A young couple walks into the restaurant. The young man wears a work jacket and boots. He is carrying a baby-carrier by the handle. The young woman is holding his arm.
They are both so young they still squeak when they walk. They sit in the booth behind mine.
“What time do you have to go back to work?” the girl asks her young man.
“As soon as we’re done eating,” he says. “I’m sorry, I wish I had longer.”
She seems disappointed. It’s the weekend. Nobody wants Daddy to work on the weekend.
They order burgers and fries. The waitress doesn’t need a notepad to take their order. She says to the young man. “How’s your mama doing, John?”
“Oh, she has her good days and bad days.”
“I need to stop by and visit her this week,” the waitress says.
It isn’t long before the baby begins to cry. I’m talking a bona fide conniption fit. The baby is flailing arms and screaming loud enough to rattle the ceiling vents.
The mother holds the baby, but can’t seem to get him to quiet. She becomes flustered, she’s embarrassed.
“I’d better take him outside,” the young woman says.
“No,” he says. “It’s too cold, don’t do that. Give him to me.”
The mother hands the baby over. I can see she is tired. It looks like she could use a long Carnival cruise ship ride and a few fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them.
The baby is not calming down.
The waitress comes from the kitchen. She makes a beeline for the young man, arms wide open.
“Bless that little heart,” the waitress says.
She doesn’t even ask, she takes the baby from the young man so he can eat his food.
The child stops crying. Our waitress has the touch of a pro. She kisses the baby, and carries the child all over the restaurant.
She introduces the newborn to every table of customers, even mine.
The kid’s name is Bradley. That’s a good strong name, if you ask me. You wouldn’t want to fool with a guy named Bradley.
Next, she takes Bradley to the table of old men. Their general conversation fades when the see the child, and the elderly men transform into granddaddies.
A man in suspenders takes the baby. He is pressing his nose on the newborn’s forehead, and explaining the rules of football.
Then an elderly man in a Bass Pro Shop cap steals Bradley. Now, Bradley is in his arms and he is speaking to the child in a sing-songy voice.
In a few moments, the entire table of men has become enchanted with this child. They are gathered in a big circle around him as though Bradley was just found lying in a manger.
The waitress refills the young mother’s glass. She finds the young woman is sleeping on her young man’s shoulder.
“Bless her,” whispers the waitress to the man.
“Yeah,” the young man says. “This is the first time she’s slept all week.”
The waitress smiles. “Poor thing.”
The young man reaches for his wallet. “I’ll take our bill, I gotta hurry.”
The waitress waves him off. “You’re money’s no good here, sweetie.” She takes his empty plate and heads for the kitchen.
“Seriously?” he says. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me, honey. Thank the old dudes who are trying to kidnap your baby.”
You’re in good hands, Bradley.
Van - January 28, 2019 7:15 am
Camp ASCCA on Lake Martin. You need to go there. God bless….
Freda Clarke - February 26, 2019 11:36 pm
I can just about smell the coffee in this story!
Karen Greatrix - January 28, 2019 7:15 am
That is a lucky baby to be surrounded by so much love.
Cathi - January 28, 2019 7:46 am
Thank the Good Lord for old dudes & wise waitresses. May we all be blessed to know and love a few.
Gale Smith - January 28, 2019 9:41 am
In the end, only kindness matters….
Gary - January 28, 2019 10:25 am
Sean, you have a way of meeting the nicest people.
Susan Self - January 28, 2019 11:28 am
The magic of a baby. Thank you Sean.
Sherry - January 28, 2019 11:42 am
Such a good story! We all need to look around and find the kind hearts in our lives….
Karen - January 28, 2019 11:52 am
Your stories are like a Norman Rockwell painting with words, rather than brush strokes. You share classic American values. We all want to know that they still exist. Thank you.
throughmyeyesusa - January 29, 2019 4:03 am
Wow! That was so well put that Sean might have written it. Well said, Karen!
Connie Havard Ryland - January 28, 2019 12:07 pm
Heart smiles this morning. You have such a way with words. I can see the whole thing in my mind and I wish I was there. Have a wonderful day. Love and hugs.
Beth Ann Chiles - January 28, 2019 12:55 pm
I needed this this morning. As always you touch my heart. Thank you. And thanks for old men and waitresses who make the difference day after day.
Akkie Bardoel - January 28, 2019 12:55 pm
Why does a diner full of old men at 8 in the morning make so much better reading than pretty much anything about Trump??
Bob Carr - January 28, 2019 1:42 pm
This is the America that we live in. Not the one we hear about on the evening news.
4Dees - January 28, 2019 1:56 pm
There are so many good people in our country, but these good people almost never make the news. The news people only want to scare, alarm and create anger among people. I prefer reading stories like yours, Sean. Thank you!
Phillip Saunders - January 28, 2019 2:00 pm
You hit the nail on the head, Karen – Norman Rockwell lives again, but with a keyboard instead of a paintbrush. Brings back fond memories of those small town cafes where just about everybody knows just about everybody else, and good old geezers (like me) sit around hashing and rehashing local “stuff” and old stories, some of which have been embellished so much over the years as to make them almost fairy tales. Ahh, yeahhh…
MermaidGrammy - January 28, 2019 2:10 pm
Edna B. - January 28, 2019 2:14 pm
I have to agree with Karen too. You’re like Norman Rockwell, done with words. I just love this story. What a great way to start my day off with a smile. Thank you Sean. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.
Janie F. - January 28, 2019 3:01 pm
Thank God for sweet waitresses and old dudes, they make our world a better place. Sean, you are so wonderful about observing people and seeing the good in them. I love that.
garden7daze - January 28, 2019 3:36 pm
Good one, Sean. I was there with you.
Liz Watkins - January 28, 2019 3:45 pm
Beautiful story for this beautiful Monday morning ❤️
that's jack - January 28, 2019 6:38 pm
good one dude. U B good at this. Love young love.
Pam Watson - January 28, 2019 9:57 pm
I loved this! It made my heart smile!!!! Thanks Sean!
Debbie Britt - January 28, 2019 10:01 pm
Sweet story! Us old grandparents love holding babies!!
Gwen Monroe - January 29, 2019 2:19 pm
So sweet. And so like our little restaurant in Rainsville Al. Kelly’s Kitchen. Love old dudes, little Bradleys and friendly, southern waitresses ❤️
Anne Swinson Godwin - January 29, 2019 5:26 pm
“They are both so young they still squeak when they walk.” I’m so thankful you kept on with your writing. This world needs more people with your heart. Very few have your ability to put their thoughts into words.
Mary Ellen Hall - January 30, 2019 10:42 pm
SO VERY BEAUTIFUL!!!????
Evelyn Ray - February 1, 2019 6:17 am
I love your writing and your storytelling. I can just see this sweet child, somehow knowing these old dudes are reliving memories of holding their own little ones.
Janet - February 26, 2019 12:02 pm
Another beautiful moment in the America we all know and love. Thank you for starting my day every day with these beautiful “paintings” that bring so much joy.
Diane Tuttle - February 26, 2019 1:13 pm
There is nothing as exhausting as being a new mama. Love this story.
Kathryn - February 26, 2019 1:48 pm
“The elderly men transform into granddaddies -” what a wonderful description! I know EXACTLY what you mean and can see it clearly! Another great one, Sean!