By: Kelli J Gavin

When you sit in the back of restaurant you see more than you would think. I asked the young host for a booth or table in the back. We walked past the bar and past 8 more tables to the perfect booth facing out towards the rest of the tables.  With a perfect view of the busy street. I watched the noon traffic pass by as I waited for my server.


Crooked Pint was very busy today.  The Curling Center Rink was full with a Friday lunchtime league.  And there were many high tops filled with hard working men and women craving a good lunchtime meal.  A few lonely souls who frequent the bar stools found their stool of choice waiting for them.  Golf, soccer and basketball highlights playing on the large screen tv’s overhead silently.


I have always been a people watcher. And a listener. Yes. I am the one that watches others. The one that listens in. The one that sees more and hears more than most people because I put my phone down, am able to quiet my own mind and tune in the human condition that surrounds me.


As a child, I was the one that would smile at adults when I heard them talking about their plans or lack thereof for the weekend. I was the one that thought the older kids were so cool and learned far too early that if I remained silent, they would continue on in their conversations and would say just about anything in front of me. Sometimes I believed it was just for shock value.  I was also the child who knew more about the sadness that many people possessed because I took the time to just listen to them and observe them.


The man that I observed, originally looking very lonesome at the corner of the bar, was met by a small woman with her hair in a neat knot at the nape of her neck. She greeted him with a warm handshake when he stood and smiled broadly.  He flushed immediately and futzed with is clothing as the host led them to a high top table ten feet away.   She smiled at the server and took both of their menus from him and handed one to whom I presume was her date.  He thanked her and they fell into a comfortable cadence of conversation.


The older man and women that I walked past when I entered seemed to be eating in silence.  I believe they have spent their entire adult lives together. Raised children together and now loved being grandparents. Retirement came a little too soon for both of them, as filing their days has become more of a challenge now, without many things on their calendar to occupy their time and their minds.  She sips at her tea as he stares out the large windows in the back of the restaurant. Little if any conversation passes between them.  Have they lived so many years together that they have run out of things to share, or even anything to say?  Have they wondered if this is what the rest of their lives will look like? Lunches together out at restaurants that feel exactly like lunches together at home in their kitchen. Where not much is exchanged and both remain unfazed and lost in thought.


My server is bubbly and helpful as always.  So darling with a long ponytail, she works the floor checking in with each of her tables as she passes. The bow tattoo on her finger catches my eye each time she floats by. What does the bow mean? Was there a reason she chose a delicate blue bow? Does a friend know the story behind it and have the identical one on her finger?  The server promptly brings me my bill and chats longer than normal today. I ordered her favorite meal, the veggie burger. She enjoys the avocado, tomato and lettuce as much as I do. She remembered I enjoy I side of ranch and she said she eats fries that way too. She seems so young and carefree and has the rest of her life ahead of her. She asks what I was working on. I didn’t tell her I was writing about her. I just said I was working on an editing project today. But next time, I will ask her about the blue bow tattoo on her finger.


The young woman with an older woman sitting two booths away, finish their meal in record time. I couldn’t see them as they ate because of the height of the booths. Occasionally, I would hear laughter from the younger one. She laughs freely. Either the older woman is quite funny, or the younger woman loves life and finds humor in everything. Either way, her laughter is amazing and frequent. When they stand, they help each other with their jackets and scarves.  Mother and daughter possibly.  No matter the relational dynamics, they genuinely care for each other.  The older woman gently takes the younger woman’s arm when it is offered and they take a slow stroll towards the entrance. Back to wherever their lives will carry them.


I was preparing to leave when I saw the young woman with an older gentleman sit down at one of tables on the opposite side of the bar. I realized my eyes were failing me and I wouldn’t even be able to see them nonetheless hear them.  My attention went to back to Jenna my server.


Jenna’s blue bow tattoo means absolutely nothing. She was 18 at a party and a guy showed up and was doing tattoos. (I giggled and said, wow, that sounds safe. She told me I sounded like her father.) She pointed to her finger, and he drew the delicate blue bow.  She loves that I asked and proceeded to tell me about each of her many tattoos. Scripture references from The Passion of the Christ, a cross, feather, wings, family and hearts, an anchor, “My favorite German” in German.  She told me about one that she wants to get. A safety pin for her Grandma Eleanor. She passed away last year and she always wore a pin on her lapel. All of the grandsons wore her doilies in their breast pockets and the granddaughters wore safety pins on their lapels at the funeral. They didn’t really know what the safety pin represented until the funeral when they were told that their grandma would pin off a stitch so she wouldn’t lose it if she was interrupted and couldn’t finish. So a safety pin will be the next piece of body art Jenna commissions for herself.


I am tired and need a nap. People watching, listening to people and engaging with interesting local folks can be very exhausting.  But this lunch, this session, hasn’t been a disappointment.  I watched the possibility of love blossoming, I was able to hear someone laugh without abandon, I will now remind myself to always talk about my day and never let silence take a hold. But most of all, I will remember to always ask about the blue bow tattoo that means nothing. Because those are the best stories of all.



Kelli Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company. She enjoys writing, reading, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. She abhors walks on the beach (sand in places no one wishes sand to be), candle lit dinners, (can’t see) and the idea of cooking two nights in a row (no thank you).

Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin

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