Two men sat across from us at The Little Brown Café in Florence, Oregon. They talked about gravy. Not even Mom could make gravy, I heard them say.
I hadn’t noticed anything in particular about the two men, but when I stood up, my eyes landed on one of the man’s ring on his left hand. Large. Intricate. Nothing like I had seen before. Not a wedding ring or graduation ring.
So I asked. As I looked at the man, I realized I was talking to either an octogenarian or nonagenarian. Hair and teeth were scarce, but his eyes were full of vitality when he looked directly at me and said Submariner. I told him that he seemed too tall to be a submariner.
I ought to have taken notes.
He told me how long he served. I acknowledged that he wasn’t old enough to be a World War II veteran. The man who sat across from the Submariner, a much younger man, answered my unspoken question, “He was a multi-war veteran. Korea and Vietnam.” He mentioned a place in Vietnam where he served and stated it as if the place was not only common knowledge, but significant; I pretended I knew what he was talking about.
On my way back from the bathroom, I stopped by their table again. I had just picked up a bottle of CBD Oil that The Little Brown Hen was selling and felt compelled to share it with the two men. The younger man, who turned out to be his son, said that they were just talking about the benefits of CBD; the Submariner probably caught only a quarter of the conversation. For him to hear me, I practically had to crawl into his ear.
By the end of the conversation, I learned that the son hadn’t seen his dad in around thirty-five years. I would have had to abandon Sylvia, who was waiting patiently for me to return from being an extrovert, to have all of my questions answered. The son was trying to convince his very independent father to move to Arizona, especially since he has already fallen a few times. I told the Submariner that he ought to move and be with his family. The Submariner replied with a very solid, “We’ll see.”
The Submariner put down a fifty-dollar bill to pay for their biscuits and gravy, thanked me for talking to him, and they both walked out the door.