Best friends have a completely different way of talking to each other than do acquaintances.
Yesterday, the trip to Brennan’s in Houston to connect Lady Y and Lady M went swimmingly. Except, of course, for the traffic jam on I-45 that held us up for almost two hours. Stop and go traffic is miserable especially when I was feeling pressured to arrive on time for our reservation. I did my best to pass the time for Lady Y by finding out about her life and entertaining her with every crazy student story I could think of.
We finally arrived at quarter of two for our 12:30 appointment. Brennan’s is one of the best and most exclusive restaurants in Houston. Just getting a reservation is an accomplishment. It is tucked away in a back corner of Houston on Smith Street and has been in existence, through floods, fires and depressions, according to the web page, since 1967. It is also affiliated with the prestigious Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.
As we entered, the elegance is understated but evident. Muted golden walls, dark wood trim, glittering crystal and silver, and heavy high-backed chairs. A quiet hum from equally elegant diners—seven or eight obviously well-to-do ladies chatting at a round table, in the latest fashions with coiffed hair, sparkling jewels and lacquered fingernails. Three gentlemen in dark suits evidently discussing business. And around them, quiet, efficient service by impeccably dressed waiters.
And they didn’t mind Lady M taking up a table while she waited, drinking coffee. Fortunately, both ladies took the hold-up in stride, accepting the situation with complete equanimity and pleasant dispositions. I guess old age can come with the benefits of having learned patience. Lady Y is 87 and Lady M is 96.
After the initial hugs and laughter and “How long has it been?” they settled down to catch up on family. Politely, they included me in the conversation. I was more concerned that they talk to each other, especially since Lady Y wouldn’t be able to hear if Lady M turned to talk to me.
It is amazing how old friends can drop right back into conversations as though they had never been apart at all. The reminiscences, the funny stories, the “remember when. . .”, the “how is . . .” all resurface so easily. It is a warm, comfortable feeling to be with friends with whom you can do that.
Both women had been golfers at Elkins Lake, our country club community. That was where they became friends, and where 8-years-widowed Lady Y met her second husband. Laughing, both agreed that they probably wouldn’t be up to playing any more rounds of golf. But the fun memories were still there.
Toward the end of the meal, I absented myself to go see about the parking valet. At last, they could share their true fears and heartaches. That is what real friends are for. To be able to commiserate over the burdens of evil daughters-in-law, the trials of drug-addicted grandchildren, the death of a beloved son in a motorcycle accident, the squabbles with children over money. The kinds of problems one doesn’t air in polite company or with acquaintances, but only with good friends who understand.
When I finally returned to find them with their heads together, they were practically glowing with happiness at the joy of sharing. We agreed it had been a delightful time and we should do it again. But we didn’t do the usual “let’s get together sometime.” I got out my calendar and we set a date. November 16th. Barring any health issues or natural disasters, we will do it again.
The ride home was peaceful and pleasant. No traffic jams. No problems. And I think Lady Y and I can now say we have started a new friendship.