Greetings from somewhere near Philadelphia, PA. I blog to you after a day that began with a red-eye flight and ended with Christmas dinner in a home full of people I’d never before met.
I’m here visiting a dear friend, Melanie, and she tells me that Christmas dinner at her friend’s parents’ house had been postponed until tonight due to his father’s illness. This meant that we were both invited and were greeted with joy, wine, and hospitality. As each guest arrived I was introduced and we all joked over the chips as we awaited dinner. When mom finally said it was time, all of us–dad, the youngest son, the priest, Melanie, uncle Danny, and Melanie’s roommates–gathered around the table. After we said grace and began taking our seats the front door opened and in walked a disheveled looking man. For a good ten seconds I was worried he was a bum that decided this home looked welcoming enough for a stop. As he took off his hat he approached the table and everyone began saying, “Carl!” “Hey Carl!” There was general delight as he, too, took his seat.
I still wasn’t completely sure who Carl was and no one bothered to introduce the new face. More to the point, I wasn’t yet shaken from the notion that he was a homeless man off the street. Perhaps it was his custom to always show up at dinner time? Seeing how the family had been so generous with us I hadn’t ruled this out.
Somewhere in the middle of dinner we began talking about the development of ADD and ADHA over the last generation and Carl began explaining how during the Roman Empire the elite ate off of lead utensils–an act that slowly poisoned them. Carl was incredibly knowledgeable throughout the entire evening. I was astounded.
After dinner all the men went to the living room to continue such discussions while all the kids played Trivial Pursuit. The men, including Carl, shouted answers from the other room and after an hour or so he left to return to where ever it was that he’d come from.