On Seders, lost loves and new love

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Tom Holmes

Pastor Walter Mitty and his neighbor Michael Rosenthal were sitting in the grass next to the tennis court at the park.  They were relaxing in the spring sunshine after their first two sets of the year.

"I want to thank you again for having me over last night," Mitty said. "It was the first Passover Seder I'd ever been to."

"So, what did you think?" Michael asked.

"I guess," Mitty paused to gather his thoughts.  "I guess it wasn't so much what I thought as what I felt."

He paused again.  "It's like … well … I know the story, of course … but I felt something I never felt before when hearing the story.  I guess it was because I wasn't just hearing it, but I was, well, I was actually participating in it … you know what I mean?"

"Of course," Michael answered.

"I'm just figuring it out now," Mitty continued.  "On the one hand, I felt like I was back there with those Israelites, experiencing first hand what it's like to have God free me from slavery." 

He stopped and kind of digested what he had said.

"And on the other hand?" Michael interrupted Mitty's pondering.

"And on the other hand, I felt like I was preparing to fight a battle," Mitty said.

"A battle?" questioned Michael.

"Yeah, a battle," Mitty replied.  "You know … it's that part where you said something about each generation having its own unique slavery that people have to be freed from.  When you said that, I found myself imagining that I was in a church with Dr. King getting ready to go out on a freedom march."

"Ah yes.  I understand what you mean," Michael said.  "So what battle did you fight today?"

Michael's tennis partner laughed.  "That's what's so funny.  Today has been so pleasant.  I slept late.  Brewed up some of that Christmas Blend coffee Herman and Susan gave me"you know, Michael, if you keep it in the freezer it stays pretty good.  Anyway, the robins were singing, the sun was shining, I had tennis to look forward to and the squirrels chasing each other up and down the maple outside my kitchen window made me laugh."

"All geared up to fight injustice and you wake up to a pretty nice world?" Rosenthal said.

Mitty smiled, "except that last set.  That was a battle.  For an old guy, you play a mean game of tennis." 

He thought for a minute and added, "There is one more question I wanted to ask about the Seder."

"Shoot," said Michael.

"Well," Mitty took a deep breath, "I just wondered how you felt about your daughter lighting the Passover candles instead of your wife."

Michael closed his eyes, opened them and looked up at a cloud.  He pulled a couple dandelions out of ground and said, "It's been three years, Walt.  I still miss her, especially during the holidays.  But the aching isn't constant any more.  And … times like last night have started to renew me instead of bringing me down. Does that make sense?"

"I guess so," Mitty replied.  He pulled another dandelion and tossed it over his shoulder.  "Say, on the way home you mind sopping at Retro?"

Mitty's neighbor started laughing.

"What's so funny?"  he asked.

"She is kind of cute," Michael answered.

"You mean Zaphne?"  Pastor Walt was blushing.

"Hey, Walt, I find myself wandering in there myself," Michael confessed.

 "My excuse is that I'm looking for vintage Coca Cola glasses.  What's yours?"

"Baseball cards," Mitty admitted. "So, you up for it?"

"Let's go," said Michael.

Walt found a parking place right outside Retro.  As the pair walked in the front door, Zaphne looked up from her lap top and exclaimed, "My two most favorite customers!"

When she came into view from behind the counter, the mouths of the two men dropped.

Zaphne smiled coyly.  "You like my new look?  I decided to go natural for awhile."

And natural it was.  She had on a khaki skirt the hem of which rose six inches above her shapely knees.  Her top was a simple white t-shirt that"well, let's say it flattered her figure.  And her hair was no longer red and greed, but brown. 

She reminded Pastor Walt of the way Julie Andrews looked in The Sound of Music.  Walt blushed for the second time that afternoon as he remembered how in love he was with Julie Andrews when he was back in seventh grade.  The pair tried to hide their self-consciousness by pretending to be interested in Coke glasses and baseball cards, but they weren't very successful. 

"I'll let you two look men over the new stuff I just got in," said Zaphne.

The way she said the word "men" made Mitty think that she know exactly what they were feeling. 

Michael looked up, caught his neighbor's eye and they both nodded at the same time.

"We have to take off, Zaphne," Michael announced.  "Thanks."

"Yeah, have to be somewhere at three," Pastor Walt added. 

As the two men got back into the car they both broke into embarrassed giggles.  "I felt like a teenager going to his first dance," blurted out Michael.

"Me, too," Mitty confessed.  "What I was thinking while we were in there was that I wished I was twenty years younger."

"What I was thinking," added Michael, "was that I was thankful to whoever invented spandex!"

"Ah, springtime," thought Pastor Walt out loud.  "So, what's next for the two swingiest single guys in Poplar Park?"

"How about us trying out that new gourmet coffee place?" Michael suggested.

"I hope Alice doesn't catch us there," Mitty replied with a mischievous grin.

"Drive on to the next adventure, Walt," Michael declared.  "It's springtime and I feel like living on the edge."

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