06:36:06 pm on
Sunday 19 Sep 2021

Apple Falls Near Tree
AJ Robinson

My dad was always gregarious, a great storyteller. Oh, the number of times he told me all manner of tales about his life and various people in history could fill several volumes. Kind of a contrast to me at least as a child and young adult, my autism made such social contacts difficult.

My dad could chat up anyone, anywhere.

My dad never had that problem. I can’t begin to recall the instances where he’d strike up a conversation with someone we were standing in line with for a movie or waiting to get into a restaurant. His was a remarkable talent.

I recall, vividly, one time when we were queued to go into Giordano’s in Oak Bluffs. He started chatting with a nice middle-aged couple behind us and before you could say “Your table is ready” we were having dinner with them. Yes, quite the friendly fellow, my dad.

Well, just the other day, I’d like to think I had breakfast with my dear old dad again. I was down in Naples, Florida, to visit my Mom. The day had not gone well; mom was back in the hospital.

Afterward, I went to have dinner with my brother Greg, Anne, his wife, and their kids. I saw firsthand how bad Greg was doing with his cancer treatments. Not good, not good at all.

It was not a very upbeat visit. So, come Sunday morning I slept in. I was staying at a hotel in Fort Myers, not crowd Greg and Anne. Then I checked out and decided to grab a bite to eat before hitting the road.

There was a Waffle House next to the hotel. As I was alone, I figured I could sit at the counter and be in and out quick. The place was quite crowded, which I took as a good sign.

The local economy was doing better and people were getting out more. Everyone wore masks. I was seated next to a nice middle-aged couple and the husband started to chat with me.

I’m not a regular at Waffle House. I wasn’t familiar with the menu and needed advice. The husband noticed my conundrum.

The man was a Foodie.

Turned out, the man is a Foodie, someone who loves food, loves to track food trends and is always looking for a good place to eat. I, of course, had to mention Giordano’s. He made note of it and mentioned that he and his wife travel quite extensively as they are semi-retired.

Talk of G’s, on the Vineyard, led to talk of Italian food, which led to talk of Italy and that, of course, eventually got me talking about my mother. I didn’t dwell on her present condition. Instead, I chatted about her life growing up in the fields of Tuscany as I felt Mr Foodie would be fascinated with the cornucopia of dietary delights, which she was able to indulge in during the carefree days of her childhood.

Foodie and his wife listened in rapt attention, so much so I ended up eating a rather cool breakfast. Not a problem for me. It’s Jo Ann, my wife, that loves a good hot meal, one practically straight out of the oven.

I always joke that I like my food as cold as the grave. To this day she cannot understand me eating Pop Tarts right out of the box. How can I not toast them? Anyway, I digress.

I told the couple of how it difficult if was for my mom during wartime; meeting my dad; life on Martha’s Vineyard and even managed to toss in a few tidbits about my books. My waitress, darting from here to there and back, taking care of her patrons, managed to overhear some of the details and promptly looked me up online on her phone.

She found the first book in my time travel series: Worst Date, Greatest Adventure and my vampire adventure story that just came out: Vampire Academia. Although she didn’t commit to buying them, I remain hopeful. Before the couple departed, they asked for my phone number and email address. As I wrote them down, I couldn’t help but feel as if my dad were at my elbow; it was just exactly what would have happened if he’d been there.

This apple did not fall far from the tree.

The couple left and headed on their way. I stayed to finish my breakfast, a rather large smile on my face. Yes, seems a bit of the Old Man has finally rubbed off on me and I’m okay with that. Now, if I could just get rid of this belly of mine that is looking more and more like his every day.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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