Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 19, 2016--Midcoast: Incognito

"What are you doing here?" It was John.

"Having breakfast. What we do every morning." He knows that. I thought he was putting us on.


"Where else? We're at the diner at about this time, what, four, five mornings a week."

"You can't be."

"What do you mean we can't be?" I knocked on the tabletop to assert our material existence. "Here we are. I'm beginning to think I'm in a Pirandello play."

"What's going on with you?" Rona asked, "Is everything all right?"

"How did you get here?" John said, ignoring her.

"We drove of course. How else would we have gotten here?"

"But where's your car?"

"Outside. Where it always is."

"I didn't see it," John said.  "I thought maybe you went to town and were at Crissy's"

"No. Here we are. We . . ." I finally realized that John didn't see our car because the one we're driving is a loner from Volkswagen. "Ours is being repaired and they gave us this one until Monday when it's supposed to be fixed."

"It's a clunker," Rona said. "Twelve years old with about 150,000 miles."

"Only 42,000 more than ours which is only seven years old."

"This makes me realize," John said, "that around here, and I'll bet in any small town, people know everyone's car."

"I've noticed that," I said. "Why do you suppose?"

"I suspect for at least two reasons. If you're driving around, say passing by the diner, and see your car, if I have the time and the inclination, I might pull over and come in to join you for a cup of coffee."

"That I get," Rona said, "But what's the other reason?"

"Don't take it personally," John said, smiling, "But I might be driving by and see your car and if I'm not in the mood to hang out, if I want some time alone, I pass by. Looking straight ahead, of course."

"To tell you the truth," I said, "we do the same thing. For example, twice last week we had breakfast with Jim. I like Jim but not enough to want to see him every day. So when we were about to pull up to the diner and saw his car we hotfooted by. With him twice in a week is fine. Three times is pushing it."

"That's my point," John said, "And why we all know everyone's car. That helps us decide what to do. To stop or keep on going."

Rona, who always urges people to be honest about what's on their minds, has for some time argued that as hard as it is to do we all should figure out ways to indicate what we do and do not want to do."

She said, "For example, you pop in after seeing our car and have an inclination to join us."

"I think I know where this is going."

"But if we're in the mood to be alone, why is it so difficult to say that without your feeling rejected?"

"Good question," John said, "Because to tell the truth, I probably would feel at least a bit rejected. Do you want me to . . . ?"

"No, no. Stay," Rona said, reaching out to him. "You're much more than a two-times-a-week person."

We all laughed at that. I said, "Maybe you're a three-times-a weeker."

John knew I was fooling with him. "But," he said, "there is something nice about having a loner for a few days and driving around sort of incognito."

"If you're inclined to want to have an affair, do a little fooling around, it could be a good way to do it."

"That's what my motorcycle's for," John said with a wink to make sure we knew he was just, well, fooling around.

"I wondered about you and your bike," Rona said.

"I recently got rid of it. With my retina problem I don't want to tempt fate. But, maybe rather than return the loaner you could pass it along to me. Being a little incognito once in a while isn't such a bad thing."

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