There once was a land on the edge of a dying moon, I’d tell you its name but they never got around to naming the awful place. What kind of place doesn’t have a name, you may ask? This one, I would answer. Should you ever have the displeasure of meeting its inhabitants, I have a strong inclination to believe you would no longer be confused by its namelessness. Having only the hardest bedrock for pillows and moon grit for toothpaste, the people of this no-name land were a gray and miserable lot. Lumbering through their monotonous lives, most residents wished only to be left alone and strictly adhered to the founding pillars of their community-less community- mind your own business.
Conducting their business, attending to their own selfish needs, the people of this happily miserable land knew no greater pride than to boast, if only to themselves, of how few friends they could claim. Things were downright awful, just the way they liked it. And then, as if from another world, a pastry shop popped up, seemingly overnight, in the most dignifiedly drab part of town. Tainting the once distinguished district with reflections of its audacious color scheme (royal blue and sunny yellow, can you even imagine a structure being lowered to such ridiculousness!) and its name, The Perfect Little Pastry Shoppe, ugh! -the citizens agreed- the eyesore of a shop had to go.
Despite their inclination to rid their land of such frivolousness as ‘pastries’ and color schemes beyond the acceptable grey, slate or black, the perky shop somehow remained in operation. Not only that- it was successful. How else could you explain the addition of shutters to the windows or the horrific potted flowers placed out front? Something had to be done. Each citizen felt it as surely as they felt the stiff wind on their face, but in keeping with tradition, not a soul was willing to collaborate, lest they inadvertently establish a friendship in the process.
So the smugly cheerful shop chugged away, contentedly producing its absurd pastries and plaguing the landscape with its refusal to stop existing. Unable to sit idly by, one by one the curmudgeoned folk of that despicable land marched down to The Perfect Little Pastry Shoppe doors, itching to tell whoever was responsible for the place to kindly sod off.
“Good Morning!” a melodious voice rings out from behind the sparkling glass magnifying confections of every shape and size as you step through the royal blue door. An aroma of sugary vanilla and marzipan fills the nostrils as the eyes adjust to the warmly lit shop wallpapered with delicate yellow flowers and green piping. “Welcome to The Perfect Little Pastry Shoppe, I’m so pleased to meet you! My name is Rosalie, could I offer you a sample of our pumpkin bread? It’s just out of the oven and I can tell you are a pumpkin enthusiast, I’d love your opinion of it Mister…,” the shop owner continues in her delicate intonations. Unable to refuse her sweetness you awkwardly give you name and take the proffered slice of warm pumpkin bread, the purpose of your visit a distant memory. As you bite into the moist and fragrant pastry, Rosalie smiles and waves to some of the others in the shop, that to this moment you failed to notice, and begins to make introductions, “That is Bobette over in the corner nibbling on the orange and cranberry scone. Oh, and this is Paul, he’s enjoying our specially made fruit tart with organic moonberrys. And last but certainly not least, that is Dr. Drummer finishing off one of our chocolate lavender éclairs”. Everyone gives a rusty smile, an expression they are just now relearning.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Sometimes I hate how jaded I seem to be getting. I know it’s happening, I feel it slinking around beneath my skin from the time I get up in the morning to the moment my brain allows sleep to come. I blame myself, after all, I am the one who keeps getting older (I never had this problem when I was an 8-year-old). Despite my best attempts to see the good in things (and harder, in people) and to maintain a sunny disposition, sometimes there are days where I allow all the bleh of the world to weigh me down. Thankfully, there are days like today, that produce moments that remind me, things aren’t all that bad. The moment in reference happened in a mechanics’ shop, of all places. For years my family has been patronizing the same mechanic and today Andy was brought into the fold. Upon entering the office of the little shop, Guy, the owner/manager is hopping around, busy as usual but immediately stops to greet us. Remembering us by name, he gives us a giant smile and then- he introduces us to the other two customers waiting in the lounge. The oddity of being introduced to strangers who were just waiting for their cars to be serviced struck me immediately. I could see I wasn’t the only one that found the incident a bit bizarre. As customers came and went, Guy continued to make introductions, sharing stories from his day and all around treating all of us like we were one big family gathered in a living room after supper instead of a mechanics waiting room. And then I started to think about why I found these introductions so noticeably odd and was immediately saddened. Have we reached a time in our ‘civilization’ where the simple introduction or even acknowledgement of another human being, albeit a stranger, sharing the same room was a social anomaly? I hope not. So thank you Guy, thank you for still treating each person who walks through your door as a human being. And thank you for reminding us that we should do the same.
Love & Squirrels.