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My First Supper MAG
I've had many dinners. Thousands. I've had dinner in the evening, in the morning, alone, in the wild, with strangers, with friends, in the rain, in the sun – but most often in front of a television. Not many of my dinners could be described as notable. I sit down, put food in my mouth, compliment the chef, and go back to ignoring the world to hunt down that very last pea that I can never seem to spear on my fork. But as far as I can remember, I've only had one real supper.
Hmm, what do I do? I think, standing awkwardly in the middle of the huge kitchen. It's odd how in such a big room I still manage to get in the way. “Can I help?”
“Oh, no, thank you,” calls out a small woman hidden behind a floating stack of plates. “We've got it covered!”
Figures. They've been doing this for years, they have the routine down. There goes trying to be helpful. How do I make a good impression now? I covertly scan the room for an answer.
Nothing. I pull out my cell phone and pretend to look occupied. Wrong move.
Maria's father comes in, nods to me, and makes his way to the table. So much for a good impression. Everyone around me has something to do, and I'm on my phone, conspicuously doing nothing at all. This is what I get for dating a pastor's daughter. I bet he thinks I'm just another heathen – and I'm one of the good kids … usually.
I follow the chaotic procession to the table, lowering myself down awkwardly, trying to find the right way to sit in the chair. I've been using these things for years but today is the day I forget how to sit in one? A quick look around the table tells me that no one has noticed. Everyone is busy with a conversation or trying to get themselves situated. Suddenly, the room quiets, and everyone looks toward Maria's father. I see open hands to my left and right, and realize that it's time for the prayer. Oh crap, He is here.
Now you see, He and I aren't close. We never have been. So times like these aren't exactly my favorite. I tend to feel like I don't belong. I walk into a church and I start getting jumpy and nervous like I'm about to rob the place. And here I am trying to make a good impression on her father. Yet when I look around the table, I feel no hostility, no judgment.
The pastor begins to speak, telling of the gifts that have been given to his family and giving thanks. That's it. Amen. I don't know what I expected, but that wasn't it. The words weren't out of the ordinary, but the emotion they conveyed certainly was. It felt like he was speaking to a friend. I don't know what to make of it. Maybe I have no reason to fear the big, scary Christians after all. They're just people.
The conversation starts, and food is passed around the table. Maria gives me a look that says, “I'm glad you're here.” I grin like an idiot.
“So, Maria tells me you've decided to join the Navy. Why is that?” I take in the scene of warm faces around me and realize that this won't be as bad as I thought. “Well, it's a long story ….”
As the evening progresses, we discuss everything from philosophy to college shenanigans to hilariously disastrous dates that happened nearly seventy years ago. We stay at the table, talking and snacking on whatever is at hand until after midnight, when we remember that we have to eventually sleep.
On the way home, I can't help but think about the events of that night, and I know I probably won't ever forget it. My first supper. I'm glad that it won't be my last.