They were most hospitable, a group of friendly women I'd met after moving to the Deep South, where I lived a few years. I'd been invited to go to a weekly scheduled lunch at a local restaurant with them. I wanted to be friendly. They were very kind, so I went.
I arrived timely and spotted several of the women near the back of the restaurant. Approaching, approximately seven of them were gathered enjoying around a tall table built for two. Scooting over, they invited me to sit. As would be my usual, I made no big deal of it, and sat, smiling at them reassurringly at the next table at the back of the restaurant. Though made for two, they are ample for one, and quite comfortable. Besides, I don't care if it's Buddah, Jesus or Colonel Sanders. If a person is within my arm's reach uninvited, I'm uncomfortable.
As minutes passed, and I'd ordered a diet soda and a salad with chicken, a few more ladies came in, and my table for one, now had three. These two, like myself, had declined the togetherness of the more social table, but we could hear what was being said, and participate if we liked just fine.
There was the rumble of restaurant noises and the chatter from all over the room, but upon hearing of a missing person, I focused hard. One of the ladies at the next table was very concerned mentioning his name, and saying that they couldn't find him anywhere. "Oh, NO!" I thought. "Not another one."
Recently a man had gone camping in the woods there. He'd gotten lost, as rumor had it. many had. He did not find his way out for three days in 100 degree farenheight plus temperatures, and was badly shaken and dehydrated when he did. I feared people could die out there. My mind contrived images of someone dragged into the black water and being eaten in chunks by alligators.
I thought, "Who is this man?, Is he from here?, Does he have family here? and How can I help?!!!"
Another lady looked just as distraught saying she hadn't heard anything either. They all appeared sad to me, when one said, "Well, I bought mine at (store name here)."
I thought the poor lady had lost it. What did that have to do with the missing man?!
Another lady added that they used to carry, "It" at another store. I was lost. It wasn't until one lady said that she got her "Purse" at some store that I realized it.
The man's name that they "Could not find," was infact the brand name of.....yes, a purse.
I do not mean to belittle the importance of purse procuring, but I was annoyed. I had spent good energy focusing over the crowd for several minutes for a purse. I liked them. I just didn't understand the ways of the purse. Perhaps I never will. Really nice people they were, if a bit focused on their "comfort objects." So I like kneaded erasers. I suppose it's not all that different. (shrugging my shoulders)
At that point, all sounds including the upset purse talk from the table for two with seven faded into an indiscernable rumble as usual. My salad arrived, and it was most gratifying.
I learned from this experience that purses are important to many people, that tables for one suit three in a pinch, and that I need to order extra salad dressing