When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Like You

March 18th, 2009 | by obc |

Some time ago, I attended a function, and sat at the same table as a married couple that I have known for quite some time – going on 15 years.  I haven’t seen or talked to them as much in the last 10 years, because I live on the other side of the state, but still get birthday cards from them.  I have a very high opinion of them because they have devoted themselves to working with kids for several decades.  They are about my parents’ age, and I’ll refer to them as Mr. C and Mrs. C.

All right, back to that dinner.  We were at an 8-person table,  and this couple ended up being seated separately.  Mrs. C sat next to another woman, while Mr. C sat across the table, next to a different couple.  The function went on for quite some time, so there was plenty of time to observe everyone’s interactions.

The woman sitting next to Mrs. C took issue with the outfits of the guests, and would lean over to her every once in a while, and say something to that effect.  I couldn’t hear everything clearly, but the gist of her comments was that the outfits, especially the dresses, were not modest at all.  She quietly complained that modern fashion leave very little to the imagination, and that young people these days don’t seem to care modesty and propriety as much as they should.  What I remember better than the exchanges is the look on Mrs. C’s face.  With a somber expression, she leaned towards the woman, trying to hear over the noise of the crowd in the hall, and nodded slightly as she listened.

On the other side of the table, Mr. C was yucking it up with his neighbor, who was the closest thing to a cowboy that you can find in the Northeast.  I got the impression that Mr. C, purposely or not, was doing a very good job of mirroring this gentleman. While I missed most of their conversation, it was ongoing throughout the evening, and it seemed that the pseudo-cowboy was controlling it. What I remember from that is the heart-felt chuckling, the agreements on how good the steak was, and the overall friendly nature of Mr. C. It was easy to think that these two guys were buddies who were seated at the same table.

The function ended, the woman and the pseudo-cowboy went home, and so did Mr. and Mrs. C. Just another dinner in another function hall. And yet, I keep going back to that night in my mind. I’m guessing that when the woman left, she felt her opinion was heard, and she had talked to someone who understood where she was coming from. And I bet the cowboy gentleman thought he had a nice time chatting about food and sports and current events with a guy sitting next to him.

Mr. and Mrs. C’s stock went up with me that night, because they made the pleasant experiences possible for these two people. I’m sure Mrs. C hears from distraught parents about the choices that the younger generations are making. I’m sure she could have done without another helping of that, throughout dinner. And I’m sure that Mr. C, a well-educated man, would have much rather enjoyed an intellectual conversation about any number of topics, instead of shallow chit-chat. They, being guests of honor, could have made themselves busy elsewhere in the hall. They could have switched the topics of their respective conversations, and started talking about what was interesting to them.

But they did not. They selflessly yielded to other people, putting the interests of other first. An act of humility like that says a lot about a person’s character. Mr. and Mrs. C, when I grow up, I want to be like you.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.