This morning I took my sons out to breakfast at Crackle Barrel. No, really. That’s how it’s pronounced in my house. Morgan has never been able to say it correctly, it’s been “crackle” for a long time. Only this morning, as we were goofing around we called it “Crack-a-lackin’ Barrel” and I thought I’d bust a gut for that bit of genius.

My sons were not as amused, but for some reason I was enjoying playing the part of the asswipe mom and it made me giggle more and more until they finally gave in to the laughter. I was going to hold out for as long as it took.

As always, Crackle Barrel is crowded on a Sunday morning at 9:30 so we waited while being squished in the aisles.

“Don’t touch anything.”

“Put your hands in your pockets.”

“No! AFTER you put down the item you just picked up. Geez! Don’t shoplift!”

When it was our turn and our name was called there were three women standing near the front watching us. They looked bitter. They had “Angry Divorcee” written on them and it pained me to think this first thought about them.

Then I heard them whisper as only one of my sons made his way to the front with me. The other was lost somewhere in the lip balm area (Because HELLO! We love Burt’s Bees!) and would be up shortly and it didn’t matter. The table was almost ready. So we had some time.

Time to hear something ugly.

“Well, only TWO of them are here. Why should THEY be seated when they’re not all here?”

[Instant thought for which I felt bad: what difference does it make, lady?]

I recalled the giggling in the car earlier this morning and didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of passing on their bitterness.

Smiling genuinely at them, I made eye contact with each one.

“My other son will be here shortly. He’s at the back of the shop right now. But just so you know, we’re all here.”

We are here on this planet, in this world, on the map. We are here sharing space and being contagious with each other whether we like it or not. We pass beauty and hideousness to one another and sometimes we give it peacefully and others we force it in the lap of others. Today, I felt like making a difference. It was conscious, though it isn’t always so.