I was enjoying my day off by walking through Eastview Mall in suburban Rochester, New York. I had just situated myself in the food court, armed with a diet soda and nothing more; I planned on people watching as an exercise in relaxation. Because I’m somewhat of a loner, all the tables around me were empty by my choosing, but I was still relatively close to the main traffic area of the busy food court and well within eyeshot of one of my favorite fast food joints, Tom Wahls.
A few minutes of peaceful bliss had passed when an elderly woman sat down at the table to my left. I smiled courteously but said nothing, hoping the sparkle in my eyes would convey the “hello” I was silently saying on the inside.
The woman, looking rather regal in her attire and confidence, smiled back and said “Hello.” I thought nothing more of it when she turned to me again and said, “That’s a very handsome mustache you have there.”
I have to admit that I thought quite the contrary, since I haven’t shaved since Friday, with this being my weekend and all, and while I was enjoying my drive, I had been absentmindedly been pulling at the left side of it, a terrible habit that Earl wishes I would drop quickly.
I responded, “Thank you ma’am, I appreciate that.”
She then said, “My husband had a mustache like yours. I don’t like those little Clark Gable mustaches, so he grew something big and bushy like yours. His turned white though, as he got older, but it started out auburn.”
I had noted that she had said “had one” when telling me about her husband’s mustache, so I asked, “Oh, did he shave it off?”
She responded, “No, he passed away several years ago.” She then added, “I wonder if he still has the mustache up there”, as she pointed towards the ceiling.
A tear formed in the corner of my eye as I responded, “I bet he does, and it’s back to its glorious auburn color.”
Since my male pride kicked in and I didn’t want to be seen in the mall food court with tears in my eyes, I finished up my diet pop and wished this kind woman, “Have a wonderful day, ma’am.”
I said it out loud this time.