Janet Peters glanced hesitantly around the restaurant, relieved as she saw her friend Sue waving at her from a booth near the back. Janet clutched the front of her suit jacket, leaning slightly forward as she walked, trying unsuccessfully to hide her tummy bulge.
She slid into the orange fake leather booth, grimacing as the table edge pressed into her stomach. Opening her plastic menu, Janet glanced up and caught sight of a man in a wheelchair. He was probably in his mid-thirties, and obviously mentally disabled. She tried not to stare, but the drool streaming down from his mouth was disgusting. Ugh! she thought, shuddering slightly. How awful would that be if you couldn’t even control your own saliva? She looked pityingly for a moment at the older woman seated with him.
“So, do you know what you’re going to order?” Sue was asking her.
“Hmmm,” Janet said, studying the menu. “Oh, who am I kidding? I love their burgers, with cheese fries of course, I can never resist. And we have to get the spinach artichoke dip,” she enthused. “You can’t eat here without getting that.”
Tim Sutton laughed as his friend Carson told yet another raunchy joke. “Good one,” Tim’s friend Nick guffawed, passing Tim the nachos and refilling his beer from the pitcher.
“Whoa, did you see that chick?” Nick asked, pointing in Janet’s direction. “What a cow.”
Laughter filled their table once more. “Hasn’t she ever heard of a salad?” Carson chimed in.
“Obviously not,” Tim answered, shaking his head. Why don’t fat people just stop stuffing their faces? he thought. He reached into his backpack for his pack of cigarettes, only to discover it was empty.
“Hey, Nick, I seem to have smoked my last cigarette. Can I bum one?” Tim asked.
“You’re out already?” Nick asked, raising an eyebrow as he handed one over.
Bill Myers sighed, the weight of the world heavy on his shoulders. He dreaded going home and facing his wife. They’d been having a tough time financially; their overspending and ever-growing debt had finally caught up with them. His wife Gena was angry and resentful all the time these days. Bill hated his job – the work he’d once loved had become drudgery, each day the same as the next. He’d hoped to retire soon, but now that was out of the question. Just then, three young college guys at a nearby table started telling jokes and making fun of a heavy-set woman across the way.
Idiots, Bill thought. Here they sit, all cocky and sure of themselves. I was that way once. Just wait till they get out in the real world and realize what a rotten, miserable world we live in. They won’t think it’s so funny then.
Bill signaled the bartender. “I’ll take another,” he said, holding up his drink.
“Sir, that would be your fourth vodka on the rocks,” the bartender told him, his voice uncertain. “Are you sure you don’t want some coffee instead?”
Abby Delgado wiped the drool from her son’s mouth, caring for him as she had for the past thirty-three years. She smiled cheerily as she arranged the napkin over the front of his shirt. “Here you go, sweetie,” she said, pushing the plate of cut-up food closer to her precious child.
It was rare that she and Shawn were able to go out to a restaurant, and she was so grateful for the good days. “Look, hon, isn’t this a nice restaurant?” she asked Shawn. “It’s nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?”
“Mama,” Shawn said, struggling to form the words, “we need to pray.”
“Of course, dear,” Abby said, smiling as she took Shawn’s hand. “Dear Lord, we thank you for the many blessings you have given us. We thank you for Shawn’s good day today, and for the delicious food we are about to eat. We thank you for the time we have together, and for the ability to go to this nice restaurant.”
“Blessings,” Shawn reminded her.
“Yes, Shawn, we mustn’t forget the blessings,” Abby assured him. “Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless those here with us today – the waitresses and bartender, for providing us with food and drink. The two lovely women over there, sharing food, stories, and laughter. The young college men, enjoying their carefree days of friendship and camaraderie, and the distinguished businessman, unwinding after a hard day’s work of providing for his family.”
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