The other day I went to lunch with my buddy Micah at my favorite diner, Elmo’s. It was busy & we talked & ate for a couple hours.
At a nearby table, several
Middle-aged folks were sitting with a much older woman.
I didn’t “pay them any mind” until a shadow loomed over me unexpectedly. Looking up from my bacon, I saw it was the very old woman, who was quite tall, and of a stately bearing. I didn’t know her from Adam. Or Eve.
She leaned down toward me, and behind her I noticed the other people at their table, also strangers, watching closely, wondering what might happen.
The woman looked right into my eyes and then said, dead-serious, “I’m on your list . . . .”
“What?” I said, trying to be pleasant. (It is 2021, but I figured she was unarmed.)
“Your list,” she said again, then “. . . Santa.”
“Oh,” I said, and saw the others behind her start uncertain smiles.
But of course; I was even wearing a red shirt. Now I knew what the next line was:
“Yes . . . . And have you been good?”
Now the others were laughing out loud.
But triumph showed on the woman’s face, and I was sure what had happened: she had told the others she had spotted me, and wanted to be sure she was still recognized. Yes, she said, earnestly.
She was living in her childhood again. The others had brought her to the diner, likely from one of the elder “communities” nearby, on an outing.
Bottom line: the food at Elmo’s is good; that’s why I was there. But it was Santa, and getting his blessing, that made her day. No question.
Even though it wasn’t Thanksgiving, this wasn’t the first such encounter this year. I don’t seek them out, yet they still come. But mostly, younger.
She nodded vigorously when I followed up, on cue, with, “Keep it up. Because you know–” my tone dropped to a stage whisper: “I’m making a list.”
She nodded again, and was that a wink? Message received; your secret is safe.
Then she pivoted and strode with a stately gait back to her table, to a hero’s welcome.
If I had passed the hat there, I bet I would have raked in more tips than Elmo’s fine wait staff.
That encounter came up again today when another friend was talking about current cults, like Q-Anon, and the features of their leaders. One thing they need, observers agree, is a story that appeals to potential cult members. A “sticky narrative.”
Talk about a sticky narrative.
Would I make a good Christmas Cult leader??
Truthfully, the “holiday season”usually leaves me feeling more like The Grinch. So those like the stately lady are safe from me, at least.
. . . Unless it’s the only way to get back to Elmo’s.