Sunday, October 17, 2010

Faith and Memories

While I’m not particularly religious, I’m occasionally obligated to attend religious ceremonies of one sort or another. The most recent one included a brunch in the social hall attached to the house of worship. I have attended several brunches of this type in the past, and they all have one thing in common: a high percentage of very friendly older people.

I suspect the high percentage is due to the fact that religion was more popular back in the days when stores were closed on Sunday and only rich people had television sets. The friendly behavior can be attributed to the fact that churches were once the social networking hub of choice before the Internet - which explains the existence of the social hall. Also, by the time people reach a certain age, they’ve lost most of their close friends and crave human contact.

We went through the buffet line and sat at a table occupied by several older people. The couple sitting next to us immediately introduced themselves, and we made the usual small talk.

Eventually, an elderly man left the table. The woman I had been talking to leaned over and said, “It’s so sad that he has to come to services alone. His wife has Alzheimer’s.”

The conversation took on a serious note as we both talked about this tragic disease, and the people we knew who had been affected.

After a somber lull, we gradually returned to casual small talk. The woman asked me where we were from, assuming we had come from out of town for the ceremony. “Oh, we live right here in the Orlando area,” I responded.

“Where do you live?” she inquired, realizing that we weren’t going to enjoy an extended conversation about Chicago or Dallas.

I told her the name of our suburb, and she reacted with surprise. “So do we!” She exclaimed.

“Oh, what a coincidence!” I replied. “What neighborhood?”

A weird look came over her face, and she stammered, “Uhh…umm… it’s… uhhh…”

She turned to her husband and asked, “What’s the name of our neighborhood?”

He looked up from his plate and said, “Umm… it’s called…uhh…it’s near the golf course.”

“Which golf course?” I asked, helpfully (there are three).

“Umm…we don’t actually live on the fairway, but we’re near it. It’s called…uhh…”

Worried now, I asked the name of their street, which she was able to name. Then I asked for the name of the nearest major cross-street, and she named that as well. This was all the information I needed, so I told them the name of the golf course and the name of their neighborhood.

They reacted with relieved glee, happy that the embarrassing moment had passed. But the next time I attend a ceremony there, I don’t expect to see either of them.

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