When something turns out way better than expected it brings such joy to life. I love pleasant surprises and this 4th of July weekend has been full of them.
Friday night kicked the weekend off with one. I was driving home from work and saw crabs for $20/doz. at what I thought was a local down and dirty pub with a bad reputation. Or at least that’s what I had been told. Twenty dollars for a dozen crabs was worth the risk of a bad reputation.
Arriving home, I asked my partner if he wanted to go out for the deal. The catch? He had to at least look the part of a red neck. He couldn’t walk into the down and dirty bar as a prep. Could he do it? He tried. He came bounding down the stairs in an old worn out t-shirt. Perfect. Till my eyes rolled to his bottom half. The crease in the jeans still gave him away. No matter how hard he tries he just can’t look down and dirty. I guess that’s not really a flaw though. I smiled; he tried. He then looked me up and down and said, “Well you’re not really down and dirty either. “Ah, but no,” was my reply, “I just need to look good to a red neck guy.”
When we got out of the car in the parking lot and headed for the bar door, a Harley roared by. My partner said “Man, he couldn’t keep his eyes off you.” I laughed, “Actually he couldn’t take his eyes off the crease in your jeans.”
Expecting the Worse
We pulled the door open, expecting the worse. To our pleasant surprise the restaurant was cute, the bar great, and the prices were fabulous. The owner came out, engaged us in conversation, and threw four extra crabs into our to-go bag. We’re definitely going to hit that down and dirty pub up for our weekly cheap date night. Pushing one’s comfort zone is grand.
Saturday, the 4th of July, started out with a 5:45 am wake up call for me to get ready for my first parade in the Cavalry. My partner, coming along for pure support, rolled out of bed at the ungodly weekend hour to help me get Rocky, my horse, ready for the 4th of July parade in Takoma Park in Washington, DC.
Our first pleasant surprise came as we arrived in Takoma Park. Expecting an urban area with lots of noise, cars and pollution, we were greeted with a charming bedroom community with tree-lined sidewalks stretching in front of historic homes. Lawns were filled with a thousand or more children, parents and grandparents decked out in red, white and blue, waving flags of all sizes. The weather was perfect and the air was filled with a patriotic hum, no matter which side of the political fence the flag was flying on.
In fact one long-haired silver woman in a purple tye-dyed flowing skirt came up to me in my military dress blues as I was mounting up on Rocky. She leaned in and thanked me for protecting her right to her far different views. She smiled as she pointed to the flower in her hair. I smiled back, knowing what she meant, and thanked her. Two different sides of the fence coming together as Americans to enjoy a parade in a small home-town.
As we assembled for the parade, the Sergeant who was supposed to be carrying the flag for the hour-long parade was suffering from the flu. He grew weezy and weak and, unfortunately, had to withdraw. My commander turned to me and Rocky and said, “Step up, it’s your honor.” My second pleasant surprise. As we started off with the large flag flapping over Rocky’s ears, the crowd stood and erupted into cheers and applause. My heart surged, filling with pride and patriotism. I whispered to my commander, “I’m going to cry sir. I’m going to lose it.” “Hold on PFC Losey. Hang in there.” And I did, for the hour long ceremony as we paraded through the streets to thousands of red-blooded Americans celebrating our independence. Truth be told, tears streamed down my face, as we celebrated as one.
After arriving home, we had no plans. So we took an afternoon of leisure hanging out in the pool, swimming side-by-side and then tying two floats together as we held hands and napped. Totally unlike us, and it felt so good, another pleasant surprise. I told my partner it would be a perfect day if I could once again hear the squeal of children playing in a pool. The phone rang.
My sister-in-law from my first marriage, whom I’ve been friends with for 27 years, was at Wegman’s. “Hey,” I said, “Why don’t you grab a 5 lb. bag of Sahlen hot dogs and bring the kids on over for a picnic and swim?” “I already have the hot dogs in the cart, along with cole slaw, strawberries and stuff to make shortcake. Game?” she asked.”You bet I am.” I replied. I ran upstairs and uncovered the goggles, the flippers, the frisbee and ball that Eric and Sam used to play on the beach with Cara and Peter far too many years ago.
The Small Joys of Life
When my in-laws arrived, we baked the shortcake and headed out to the deck to grill the dogs, drink, and listen to the squeal of children once again playing in the pool. I sighed perfectly contented with my weekend full of patriotism and pleasant surprises. God I love the small joys of life.