After a day of shopping and running errands in the big city, we decided to go to that Italian restaurant with the endless salad bowl. While making my thousandth attempt to swirl my spaghetti instead of cutting it, I watched the young couple take their seats at the table across from us. She was wearing a gorgeous royal blue gown and he was sporting a handsome tuxedo, with a cummerbund that matched her dress.
I overheard the young woman tell the server that they were from an adjacent county and it was prom night. Watching as they studied the menu, I remembered a time decades ago in a far-away galaxy when another young couple sat at a small table in a quaint Italian restaurant on prom night.
Watching how at ease these two seemed in the restaurant set-ting, I thought about how awkward I felt that long-ago night. I re-membered how anxious I was as I wondered what to order and whether my date could really afford to shell out the money for our dinner after paying for my $2 wrist corsage and filling up his dad's car with gas that cost thirty-nine cents a gallon.
As my mind floated down memory lane, I watched as this other young man got up, took off his coat, and offered it to his companion. She gladly accepted and thanked him with an endearing smile. And, yes, it was a bit cool in the restaurant, just like it was all those years ago when my date offered me his white sport coat.
However, I remembered refusing while trying to think away the goose bumps. And, although that was when women were burning their bras, my motives had nothing to do with the liberation movement. Mine were prompted by that awful feeling that he would leave there with a tied-dyed sport coat and a singed carnation.
A wave of sadness washed over me as I thought about that night. I couldn't help but wonder why I had to be one of those teens that felt lost in her own skin, estranged from normalcy, and alone even in the midst of a crowded restaurant. Adolescence, maybe?
Yet, I was truly happy for this young couple-happy that they seemed confident, self-assured, and ready to take on the world. And, I was thrilled that they were attentive to one another and didn't spend their time texting or talking on their cell pones.
Before they left, I spoke with them and told them how great they looked. They accepted the compliment with smiles and graciously thanked me. I thought about how earlier in the day, during our stop at one of those bed and bath shops, a young man tried to help me select a pillow. His honesty was both humorous and sincere. “I can only afford one of these $9.99 pillows,” he shared. Selecting a much more expensive pillow and offering its merits, he stated, “I want one like this when I get out of school and get my own place.” As we checked out, our cashier was another young college student who was cheerful, friendly, and readily shared an infectious smile.
Still sipping on coffee, I thought about how quick we are to criticize our youth and question how they will be able to make it on their own, much less take care of us. Yet, all around us there are kids and young adults who are caring, responsible, and metamor-phosing into US. You know, the kids from yesteryear who had our parents wondering what would happen to the world when we took over.
Munching on that last bread stick, my mind raced back to my sophomore philosophy class and a discussion Professor What's His Name launched after sharing a supposed quote from Plato about how the youth of that day were running wild, didn't respect their elders, disobeyed their parents, ignored the law, rioted in the streets, and lacked morals. That day was circa 400 B.C.
History really does repeat itself, doesn't it? As the youth of today grow up, they too will become the adults questioning what has happened to the generation behind them. But, hopefully there will always be prom nights and young men willing to offer their coats to young women with chill bumps. Reckon there's any chance that guy in the white sport coat remembers that night so many years ago? KNOTT MUCH.