As a writer, I am often inspired by bits and pieces of conversations, things I see and hear, things I read in the paper or see on the news. Sometimes the inspiration can be something as simple as a picture on the back of a magazine cover or the way a tree looks at a certain time of day. It doesn’t take much.
I would like to give you an example of this, and then I would like to tell you a story.
The example is: I worked late last night, filling in for one of my co-workers. As I walked down the hall, I glanced into a conference room as I went by the open door. The window shades were up and the city was aglow in lights. I could see Gervais Street Bridge lit up on both sides with white globes glowing in the dark. It was, for a lack of a better term, breathtaking. I stopped for a moment and just stared out the glass. When I walked away, the beginnings of a story that I have titled, Ledge began to form. It’s my current Work In Progress.
Now for the story.
I had a Paul Harvey moment this morning. If you don’t know who Paul Harvey is, I strongly suggest you look him up on Youtube and listen to any one of his The Rest of the Story segments.
I was in the kitchen of the hospitality department at work, chatting with a co-worker as he made himself a cup of coffee. The young lady who heads hospitality was in there as well. As me and this co-worker talked, I saw her do something out of the corner of my eye.
“Stop with the Twelve Chairs for a moment,” I said to the co-worker (Twelve Chairs is a Mel Brooks film based on a Russian comedy, or so I learned today).
Before I go much further, I have to explain what I saw. The young lady peeled the top off of a half and half container. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those little cups that hold liquid creamer in them that you pour into your coffee. She then raised the small container to her mouth, downed it like a shot and threw the cup away.
Ahhh, but not so fast. There’s more to it than that.
You know what she did, now, here’s the rest of the story:
As a young child, both she and her brother spent a lot of time with her grandparents. They were picked up from school by her grandparents, and spent summers at their house, and went to breakfast where coffee was served, and yes, the two little kids were allowed to have some.
It wasn’t just the coffee that the kids enjoyed. It was the creamer. The little .375 ounce containers that looked like white boiler pots that you could see the liquid shaking around inside held, not creamer to the Siblings Duo, but sweet deliciousness. They would get their cup of coffee with breakfast and pour the creamer in, carefully peeling back the top so not to spill any on their fingers, or worse yet, the table where a napkin would have to be used to clean up the droplets instead of a tongue. They would pour what looked like milk into their cups, stir it around a little, and then drink the coffee down, albeit slowly at first until the heat had cooled enough for guzzling.
As the coffee became less and less in the cup, the two children would add more and more of the half and half until, before long, the cup no longer held any traces of coffee, except maybe a hint of aroma. And they would drink all the fatty happiness that was the half and half in their cups. And their grandfather would let them.
Yes, their grandfather let them.
Their mother, however, wasn’t too fond of the children drinking the creamer down like that, either in little shots straight from the plastic cup, or bigger ones from a coffee cup. ‘It’s not healthy,’ she would say and would not allow it. No, her children were not going to have any of that yumminess.
But there was still grandfather.
You see, grandparents are just parents of the parents of the children their children brought into the world. And the sole purpose for parents whose kids have children of their own, is to spoil them, and then send them home, sugar-highed, caffeine-wired, toy-bought, cartoon-watched, goofed-off-all-the-day-long, so that their children could sow what they reaped from their own childhood. Yes, grandparents often spoil their grandchildren in ways they would have never done with their own kids.
And the Sibling Duo’s grandfather was no different. If he turned a blind eye to their constant opening and pouring of the half and half’s into the cups to the point that they would have stacks of empty containers on the table when they left, only he and those grandchildren would ever know. That was their little secret.
For the Sibling Duo of brother and sister, it was their treat, their little tradition with Grandfather.
As we grow nearer to the completion of this story, let me now tell you that not too many years ago, this great man passed away, leaving behind these two wonderful now adult grandchildren who still have a fondness for half and half–straight up, folks, not in their coffee.
This brings me back to the moment in time where two male co-workers were discussing a film by Mel Brooks as the young lady first peeled the top away, and then tossed back the creamer like a shot of whiskey, before throwing the container into the trash. You see, she wasn’t mimicking the actions of someone in a bar, or even just downing the semi-sweet delightness that is half and half just for the heck of it. No, as you will come to know shortly, there was a reason for this quick action, glimpsed by her co-worker.
You see, as explained earlier, her grandfather allowed both her and her brother to partake of the half and half as kids. Now, as adults, and with their grandfather no longer around, it is a tribute to him, a way of honoring him. Each morning, when the young lady in question makes a cup of coffee, she takes a .375 ounce container of half and half and downs it in memory of a great man she loved, a great man who taught her a lot about life, love and, yes, happiness. And that happiness is a half and half at the breakfast table as a little child…
To steal from Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.
I told you that story in honor of, not only my friend’s grandfather, but my friend as well. In life you have to hold onto those little things that make you happy, hold onto the good memories of childhood that helped shape you. In turn, you can hold onto those you love, even when they move on.
After hearing that tale, my mind–being that I’m a writer–instantly said, ‘hey that could go in a story’. I even joked with her about using it. But, after thinking on what she told me, I thought it would be better served, not as a part of a story, but as a reminder about life, about what to cherish and what to let go, about what and who to hold on tight to.
I’m reminded of the recent Bud Light commercials that play during football games. Fans are shown doing all sorts of odd things, but the commercial boldly states, it’s not weird if it works.
What the young lady did this morning struck me as weird at first, but after hearing her story, it’s not weird at all. It’s a pretty cool way of remembering someone, and I’m glad I saw her in the act of remembrance. So next time someone does something that you think is odd, take a step back and think about my friend and her tribute to her grandfather. There’s a story behind everything, and if you don’t know the story, you may misconceive someone’s actions.
Until we meet again, my friends…
Half and Half, the Rest of the Story