Funny how sometimes a perfect stranger can enter your life for a fleeting moment and come to the rescue on these things....as in the case just last night....
It was an unusually warm night in Dallas for January 3....in the 70s, after a sunny afternoon of 80 degrees plus -- a touch of spring in the middle of winter, and the city was buzzing. My husband and I opted for a local French bistro due mostly to its fabulous patio and primo people watching....the food being a secondary motivator. It was just a night to be out and about, and even though our moods weren't the best, we weren't going to miss out.
This would be a good night. There were a couple of omens immediately -- a rare open parking spot up front; the last remaining patio table waiting there just for us. We were supposed to be at this very patio, this very night, at this very time, for some reason.
So we sat, we ate, we had a glass of wine without a terribly animated conversation, unlike the couple next to us who were clearly on a date -- flirting, nervous, trying to impress. Ours was more comfortable, less energetic, more natural -- the conversation of a couple who had been eating together for 15 years. It was calm and familiar.
About the time we finished, another table began to exit the bistro. I had noticed the kindly looking gentlemen -- seemingly a bit out of place -- in a tweed jacket and ascot-style scarf -- dining at the table next to us with a group of people. What I didn't realize is that apparently, he noticed me, too.
At the same time this gentleman went to leave, my husband said something that made me laugh -- a rare moment for last night, as our moods were less light and airy than they should be on such a lovely evening.
As the man passed our table, he stopped....and in a very proper British accent he said to me, "You should laugh more often. Your whole face lights up when you laugh."
At first I was a bit taken aback, mostly that someone -- a perfect stranger, no less -- was watching me and had taken note of my somewhat somber mood. And on such a beautiful gift of an evening. What was wrong with me?
So I smiled and thanked him and told him I would definitely plan to laugh more in the future, and I bid him a lovely evening as he exited the bistro.
And then it hit me -- there it was! This perfect stranger had provided me with the perfect New Years' resolution for 2009 -- To laugh more. And it occurred to me that this was the very resolution I had made the year before, and not only had I clearly blown that, I had even forgotten about it.
So, thank you, perfect stranger, for reaching out and letting me know that I'm wasting some perfectly wonderful opportunities to laugh and enjoy life, even in the smaller moments, especially in the smaller moments. Your entry into my life was brief and fleeting, but I will not forget you or your kind advice.
Yes, sometimes it takes a stranger.