Recollections with Richard Bleil
Today (as of the writing of this blog) I saw an advertisement from yet another fast-food joint selling yet another burger. What struck me most about this advert is that it is from one of my favorite fast-food joints that is not known for its burgers. Of course, I don’t like giving commercial names in these blogs so as to avoid legal issues, what I can tell you is that although they might have the meats, their meats usually don’t include burgers. But it is one of those fast-food joints that offers roast beef, and yes, there are more than one.
Some years ago, while on a road trip, I stopped off at one of these places because, well, like I said, it’s one of my favorites. There was a small line that should have been moving faster, but either somebody was giving a very complicated order or there was a new person working the cash register. Either way, I’m a patient man, so it’s fine. An elderly couple comes in and asks if I’m in line. I say I am, and then tell them they can go ahead of me.
As we’re waiting, we strike up a friendly conversation. Just a little chit chat to pass the time as we wait, when they tell me that it’s the first time they’ve been in this joint famous for its roast beef. They looked like the kind of couple that probably makes their own roast beef meals at home frequently, and just decided to try something new, so I felt like I needed to warn them.
Keep in mind, I do like this place, but for first timers, if they were expecting the kind of roast beef like they make at home, they’ll probably be disappointed. So, I warned them. I told them that I do like it (which is why I was there), but it’s not like homemade roast beef. It’s processed and pressed and might vaguely taste like it might have been beef at one time, but it’s very different. I encouraged them to go ahead and give it a try, but not to expect what they might make at home.
I passed by their table as I was leaving and couldn’t help but ask how they liked it on my way out. They thanked me for the warning, saying that they would not have enjoyed it if they hadn’t been told, but that they really did enjoy the food because they weren’t expecting it to be like a homemade roast beef sandwich from leftovers.
This makes me wonder how many things we tend to feel is distasteful because it is not what we expected. We see it in politics all the time, and incumbent candidates depend on it where even those with abysmal approval ratings see re-election time and time again because of the old adage “better the devil I know.” But different isn’t always bad, and sometimes is even better. Unfortunately, if we decide that we won’t like something, then we’ll look for reasons to prove that we were right.
As I write this, Star, my cat, is sitting on my lap. She is actually the second cat that I’ve shared my life with, the first one being Sir Purrsalot (“Purrsy” for short) which was many years ago. Animals really do have a personality that can vary strikingly. This is why I did not adopt Star as a “replacement” for Purrsy. Had I done so, I would have been disappointed because I would have been expecting the same personality, but Star is her own, well, Star. Because I understood that Star was indeed different, and never tried to fit her into the mold of Purrsy, I took the time to get to know Star for Star, to get to know her personality, and I love her for being herself. Every day I’ll miss Purrsy, but nobody can replace my Star now.
This is kind of a life lesson for me. When I was (very briefly) a stepfather, I understood that I was never going to be able to replace their father, and never tried opting instead to develop a relationship with the boys independent of their father. At the same time, I knew I would never replace my then-wife’s husband, and never tried. Sometimes I wonder if this is the reason that I had failed in this family, if they were expecting a new father to be like their old one. But I wonder if I’m over this experience. Maybe the reason I’m such a recluse now is because of fear that my next relationship will be like the one that I lost? Or maybe that it won’t be?