Saturday, November 1, 2008

Meeting Mr. Overalls

We went to Village Inn for breakfast this morning. When we got there, there were about seven or eight families ahead of us, all gathered in the vestibule, up front. We put our name on the waiting list, and took a couples of seats, right by the front doors. Before long a tall, lanky gentleman, probably in his mid-sixties, dressed in faded blue denim bib overalls and wearing a baseball cap stepped through the doors. He surveyed the crowd, waiting to be seated, looked our way, and said, rather loudly, "Doesn't anyone ever eat at home anymore?!" We laughed, and that was a signal to Mr. Overalls that we were a willing audience, I guess. "People don't need kitchens in their houses anymore," he said. "Just a microwave in the bedroom!" We chuckled again. He went over and put his name, and "party of four," on the sign-in sheet, then came back to us.

"We should pass out song books and have a community sing, here in this vestibule," he said. Then he proceeded to hum a key, pretending he had a pitch pipe. We laughed. He was eating it up. He started telling us a story, "When I was young, I went to church with some people who went to the Church of Christ," he started. We grinned, and told him we were members. "Oh! Do you still sing a capella?" We assured him that we did. He said he was always impressed by the singing in that church. Then he told us a funny story centered around his misunderstanding of the communion service. About that time, our name was called. We said good-bye, and went to our table.

As we were perusing the menu, who should show up, but our new friend, Mr. Overalls (so I shall call him). "Oh, good, you have a third chair here." And he sat down. Our conversation turned to politics, but not the current candidates or issues. We each told about the first presidential campaign we remembered, from our childhoods. He said he could remember Truman and Dewey (1948). Dan remembered the 1952 election with Eisenhower and Stevenson, and I remembered the 1956 election with those same two candidates. We learned that Mr. Overalls had moved to Albuquerque in 1990 from Arlington, Texas, near "Fote Worth" (as he pronounced it). The conversation segued into talking about places in Texas. He brought up Post, TX, and told us that it had been founded by C. W. Post, of Post Toasties fame, as a sort of utopian, health-related colony. We continued talking and laughing as if we'd known Mr. Overalls for years.

Finally his name was called, and the other three people in his party arrived, and he said good-bye and left for his table, in another room of the restaurant.

We had nearly finished our breakfast, when Mr. Overalls came back to our table. "Do you have any white sugar here at this table?" he asked (meaning regular sugar, not the stuff in the pink, blue or yellow packets). A nervous waiter was following him, and seemed worried that he had marched across the restaurant to some other customers' table, to scavenge for sugar. When the waiter saw that we welcomed him, he seemed a little relieved, and left us alone. Mr. Overalls grabbed a handful of sugar packets and then sat down with us again. Our conversation picked up, right where we'd left off, until we all heard a holler from across the restaurant. "SUGAR!," the people from his table were calling.

"This is the only way I can get them to call me 'Sugar'," he said with a grin, and took his fistful of white sugar packets back to his table.

"I'm glad you picked Village Inn today," Dan said. It had been a really enjoyable morning, meeting and visiting with Mr. Overalls.

1 comment:

juliemcleod said...

What a character he must have been and how generous of you and your husband to welcome him like that. A sweet story...