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Friday, July 29, 2011

Breakfast at Hampton's... The Conversation!

Silence Is Golden?
 "As you read your Emily Dickerson, and I, my Robert Frost, as we note our place with book markers... that measure what we've lost!"

Okay, so I am a little over dramatic by quoting Simon and Garfunkel, but I couldn't help feeling sad for those who's life is hanging on the words that maybe never seem to come. And that's what I noticed, a couple of times, at the breakfasts I shared in hotels across northern Louisiana and Arkansas unbeknownst to the many early morning participants.

Within the hour that I sat and drew at another Hampton's this page illustrates three subjects; two of which virtually had nothing to say to their breakfast buddy across the table. The waitress, who was of Hispanic descent, actually was quite friendly and very verbal. She saw my drawing of her... which I apologized for. My excuse to her was that she was so efficient I couldn't draw fast enough. She giggled!

The older gentlemen, dressed quite nattily, sitting across from his demure partner, I nailed. And, it not only looked like him, I liked my interpretation of him in the sketch. Drawing this man was easy because he never took his eyes off the USA Today as he ate what I'd consider a very healthy diet. I just wish he would have said a few sentences to his, I assume, wife.

Maybe it is the silence that comes with many years of bliss in a marriage that needs no small talk. Years of companionship and knowing what each other would say makes for a cozy, peaceful co-existence. Maybe, it has all been said before. Maybe, they have no confrontations... no money worries, no children concerns, the mortgage is paid and all is well, no more responsibilities but to themselves to enjoy life... and this is how we do it! Maybe, but her eyes cast downward to her entree or an occasional stare at the morning news on tv seemed to tell a different story.

I should have sketched her too!

But, I did draw a cute teenager who looked to be about twelve or thirteen years old. She wore a pink sweatshirt over a sparkley sequenced white tee shirt. She had a strand of hair that very conspicuously draped across her right eye and never moved one way or another. The little girl probably had it designed that way before she came down to the cafe for breakfast. You never know who one might meet!

When she arrived, the girl was greeted by her mom, dad, who was reading the newspaper, Gramps and Grandma. It seemed a pretty stern and straight laced family unit. Mom spoke about what was being offered at the buffet and that was about the extent of her twenty minute breakfast conversation. The family lifted their heads off from their plates when the freckled faced daughter smiled and teased her father about something, maybe the shirt he was wearing. The dad lowered the news to make eye contact and then, lifted back up the "fish wrap" and chuckled behind it. The little girl didn't seem to mind and continue finishing her meal. As I sketched, I couldn't help but wonder how many more times will she accept the dutiful, almost robotic responses from her family before she leaves behind the boredom and look to another source, for fun. The Beatles, "She's Leaving Home" came painfully to mind.

"Something inside that was always denied for so many years!"

When mom mumbled a sentence or two about leaving a clean table and rose from her chair, everyone else in the family rose and disappeared. I sat right across from them on the next table and, I swear, they had no conversation between each other except what the little, giggly daughter had to say.

It made me wonder about how we raised our son and whether I, unknowingly, squashed any playfulness in him through our adult, worrisome conversations... at any meal.

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III