SGLY: Honeycomb words
I wait in a lobby that smells of stale coffee and grease. The mechanic tells me he is running low on staff, so the inspection of my car may take a little longer than usual. I find a chair furthest away from the mounted television that is just loud enough to distract me.
A man about my age walks in while talking on his cellphone, eyes me, and quickly turns around. He paces outside the glassed-in lobby, continuing his conversation. Now standing on the other side of the glass from me, he stops and focuses on ending his discussion. What he does not realize is I can hear every word he speaks between the window panes.
The man is speaking to someone with whom he is romantically involved. He says goodbye to the person on the receiving end of the line with a shy laugh, and I cannot help but notice my own cheeks slightly flushing as he puts his cellphone in his pocket and reenters the lobby. He sits at a direct diagonal across the square of scuffed linoleum and gives me a quick nod.
I feel the stranger’s eyes return to me. As I meet his stare, he clears his throat and says, “Sorry if you heard any of that.” His mouth softens into an embarrassed grin. “By the expression on your face, I’m guessing you did.”
Now I am the embarrassed one. I wonder what expression I gave him as I play back in my mind all that I overheard. “I just heard you mention you are going to take pictures of someone… that’s all.”
“My wife. Pretty pictures of my wife,” he beams. “Our twenty-second anniversary is coming up, and she was asking me for gift ideas.”
“Ah, well, that’s nice,” I say, not sure what more I can add to this conversation.
“She asks each year, and I always give her the same answer. I think she is expecting for me to one day change my mind.”
I take a better look at this stranger. His wedding band looks like a tight rubber band upon a finger similar to the rest, thick and calloused. His shoulders are broad and his belly broader. His dark hair is speckled on the sides with silver and beginning to thin on top. But his eyes when he speaks of his wife are blue-skyed windows peering into younger days. And I cannot help but be drawn to his view.
“Will you one day? I mean, will you one day change your mind?” I ask.
He straightens his back and puts his palms upon his thighs. “Never,” he replies with a raised voice that fills the small lobby. “No matter her age. Never.”
His stare falls from me and lands upon memory reserved for him and her. He clasps his hands together and is about to say something more when the mechanic comes in and calls out my name from behind the register. Flustered, I stand and state the obvious. “That’s me,” I tell the stranger. After I pay, I stop in front of the man who now seems like he has curbed his urge to speak more.
“Was there something else you were going to say? I felt like you were about to tell me something before my name was called.”
He pauses in consideration of my question. Then, a youthful brightness returns to his wrinkle-encased eyes. “Yeah. I was going to say outside earlier on the phone that my wife jokingly asked me what kind of pictures I was expecting when she turns seventy or eighty years old,” he chuckles. “She is always worried about aging.”
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her that when we are both that old I’d be taking pictures of her on a park bench with the sunlight in her hair. I told her that she would still be just as pretty to me as the day I stood before God and watched her dad walk her down the aisle to me.”
My breath catches, and I hope he does not notice. “I don’t know you… not even your name… but the way you frame your admiration for your wife is something I will most certainly never forget. It is beautiful, and I imagine her to be just as beautiful.”
“Walter. My name is Walter. And you’re right; she is beautiful. Prettiest girl I ever laid eyes on and has the soul of an angel.”
I honestly cannot recall the drive home. I was vacillating in thought - being swayed by Walter’s professed adoration and torn with the realization that this is not so common. Most conversations I hear regarding significant others revolve around health, work, finances, the kids, the house, or the pets. It is uncommon to overhear love except for unthinking quips and complimentary closings to end conversations such as “I love you, too.” These endings often seem as heartfelt as the automatic “I am fine” when someone asks how you are doing. But this stranger…
This stranger today gifted me something I hope I was not fibbing when I said I would never forget. I want to remember. I want to have others hear me speak well of dear ones – if they are going to overhear anything, may my words reflect love and bestow encouragement.
If someone were to overhear your words today, would they speak to the best in others or have you gotten into the habit of highlighting faults? Does your speech reflect God’s love or your judgment? Are you stuck in stress-speech or grace-speech?
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.