I was 14, working as a waitress in the summer at a Bible conference.
Naive, unaware of my own beauty, oblivious I had talent, and enjoying freedom, I grew up fast.
I made lifelong friends that summer and we hold hundreds of stories to tell. Yet, a thousand more to never share.
It was a particularly busy week and I was serving three tables of 10 people each.
At the head of one table sat an elderly man and his wife.
He had snow white hair that he made no attempt to tame. His round glasses sat at the tip of his nose. His brown suspenders tightly hugged his robust round belly. And even though he was clean shaven his sunkissed cheeks hinted that he could be Santa.
But, he was not a jolly fellow at all!
He demanded this or that the whole meal with the continuous absence of a please or thank you.
His wife sat quiet the whole time.
I smiled and ran around like the energizer bunny that I was.
Lunch time was winding down and 28 people had left. Of course he remained with his wife.
He raised his hand again for me to come to his table.
I plastered the smile on and walked over to him.
Startling me he touched my arm, "You really are phenomenal. You kept up with every order and never complained. You made no mistakes. Smiled through it all. Plus you are beautiful."
Always sucking at compliments I started to walk away and said to him, "You are lying through your teeth!"
I went back to cleaning up to and only to see him raise his hand again.
Sighing, I walked back over.
He touched my arm again and said, "You really are phenomenal. You kept up with every order and never complained. You made no mistakes. Smiled through it all. Plus you are beautiful."
I started to walk away angry, yet he was still holding onto my arm.
And then I saw him slowly raise up his other hand which held his false teeth.
I laughed and cried.
While his lips parted, revealing his bare pink gums, and the most melodious laughter erupted from his soul. And I saw Santa's belly shake like a bowl full of jelly.