Wednesday, May 4, 2011

America At Denny's - Warrenton, Virginia

On any weekday morning you can find America at Denny's in Warrenton, VA. Most of the clientele are over 60. They sit at different tables but still talk to each other loudly about politics, churches, health, and family. They hobble from table to table visiting friends. I have even witnessed one of these old people go up to a complete stranger and engage them in some conversation about politics. And the recipients of the conversation are more than polite: they are happy to be included, to be part of the scene. Everyone is invited to this party at Denny's. There is a feeling of comradery. Community. It is safe.
The men are much more vocal than the women. Come to think of it, there are many more men than women that turn out for breakfast. This morning an old man wearing a camouflage rain hat walked from table to table checking in on everyone he knew. One table talked to him about a hysterectomy and an absent friend who couldn't eat because he was getting a blood test. The man in the hat stood over them, nodding in genuine concern. Another man, a little younger than the average age, sat at a table with three other men discussing Osama Bin Laden's death. He wore a blue St. Louis Rams shirt and playfully sent his muffin back to the kitchen because it was "drowned in butter."

When I got up to leave, the old man who had been sitting behind me with his friends said smilingly to me, "I'm sorry young lady that you had to sit with old men and put up with our jokes." Everyone laughed including two men my age sitting nearby that were not part of the old man's crew. One of the younger men smiled and winked at me when the old man spoke. It was an acknowledgement that we are all here together. We are all in this together. I feel more American in that Denny's than I do at any Fourth of July parade, or watching fireworks, or hearing the "Star Spangled Banner." The place makes me feel human.

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