Often times when one remarks “how could this moment get any better” it usually does; and sometimes beyond ones greatest expectations.
No less was the case after we finished our appetizers that fateful night at Not Your Average Joes in Norwell. As our soup bowls were cleared, a pitcher of beer we ordered was brought to the table; as Ashley was helping us pour she exclaimed the gentleman from the table behind us would like to buy that pitcher of beer for us. Dizzy with the bubbles of beer combined with the astonishing munificence shown but everyone at this restaurant, I let Jorge man this one and go thank the gentleman in person. It was then that I turned to meet the eyes of the gentleman who bought us that beer to thank him, and saw he wasn’t alone, but with his young son. A child of only about 10-12 years, staring up at my husband with wonder. Peering at his patches, I could see he held a great deal of admiration for this soldier in front of him; and I hoped that one day, he will own the resolve and determination to serve his country like my husband. Turning back, I felt a little choked up seeing how the young boy eyed my husband and I recognized it as a proud moment for both of us.
Back at the table, we put in our orders to Ashley. Chicken piccata for me and the enchilada for my beau. Laughing and chatting and telling stories of silly soldiers during training, we were soon greeted by the young manager of the restaurant. Walking up to us with a huge smile, shaking my husband’s hands, asking if everything was ok. He was genuinely nice. Not the sort of fake nice you get from other managers at other restaurants; if they bother visiting your table at all; no, this gentleman was confident, cool and pleasant. We let him know how much we appreciated his staff and also the welcoming environment he had set forth for us that night. He was gracious and left us to our meal.
The meal; the main event, the anticipated entrée, was unbelievably delicious. The chicken in my piccata melted in my mouth, the noodles were prepared perfectly al-dente and the sauce-caper combination was mouth-watering. The same went for my beau’s enchilada. He could not speak much for he was so engulfed in each delicious bite, I had to find out for myself what was making him so happy. He was right not to speak. The corn tortilla was in a sense; perfect. Not too hard, not soggy at all, it held up under the rich, yet delicate cream sauce. The filling was a mix of seamlessly blended ingredients creating an authentic flavor that the south shore had yet to rival. We easily cleaned our plates.
Sitting back and taking in the events of the night, we felt relaxed, welcomed and content. Just then, my beau excused himself to the restroom. As he kissed me before leaving the table, I watched him walk away. Only a few steps away, an elderly man reached out to him as he passed by from his table, grabbing my husband’s hand and shaking it firmly with both of his. He had a look in his eye that showed an immense amount of respect and appreciation. I could see his lips move and create the words “thank you”. But there was something about this man. He was emotional and behind his admiration there was a sadness. As my husband thanked the man and continued on to the restroom, I got up and went to the elderly couple, I wanted to thank him for reaching out. He simply said “Your husband is doing a great duty for this country.” He looked as if he wanted to say more, but could not get it out. His eyes welled up and as I stared into them I suddenly saw him storming the beaches at Normandy, losing his buddies, making the trek home alone. What he must feel looking at my husband in his uniform, what memories it must have brought back for him. At that moment we both had to look away, for fear if our eyes met again, if we blinked, we’d both cry.
Retreating back to the table I suddenly felt overwhelmed with pride, guilt, sadness and love for everyone around us. From the manager to Ashley, to the bartender and all the patrons, I felt glad to be there at that moment.
Upon my husband’s return from the restroom, we finished our beers, paid the check, said thank you and goodbye to our waitress, the manager and everyone around us as we made our way to the front door.
It was at this time we ran into a young bus boy, he couldn’t have been more than 17 years old. Stopped us and said that his older brother was overseas at this very moment, and that he misses him every day. He exclaimed that seeing my beau tonight made him thankful for the effort his brother is giving to protect us. And just like the young boy dining with his dad, I saw admiration from the young bus boy, and saw the possibility that one day, he too would follow in his brother’s footsteps. I gave him a hug and we soon left.
Out in the parking lot we sat in the car for a moment recounting each person that came into our lives that night. Remarking how unbelievably generous everyone was, how delicious the drinks and food were, and how open-minded and open-hearted the general public can sometimes be. We felt a true sense of gratification and honor. After that incredible dining experience, we left Not Your Average Joe’s not only full in our tummies, but full in our hearts.