Friday, July 6th 1:54 PM
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Lancaster's Diner tastebuds already know the Ephemera which awaits them, here at a high two seater table in the front window of Lancaster's. New flavors, delivered by the gingham shirted, overall short wearing waitress, reminiscent of Sweetilicious.

The first spoonful is not a disappointment. Rich yet delicate, the spice creates close my eyes appreciation for the shrimp and crab that sacrificed their lives-heightened as the heaping Sassy Salad-1/2 order sky high-is set beside the cup of bisque.

This place feels like home-warm, cozy, filling me with contented sighs as I settle into the hair. Country music softly plays in the background; Janice across the small square table.

The four boys at the adjacent table finally abandon their video games, devices pocketed as platters of chicken & fries are devoured. Mmm...the oldest groans, biting into crispy fried chicken. Finally, over fries and ranch dressing, the boys begin to make eye contact with each other, sentences are exchanged, giggles from one to another...

"...git a little dirt on my booooots," one sings aloud to his three tablemates.

Hearing the choppy phrases from their table restores a bit of my faith. Seven of eight of the family/group disappeared into their video games when they first sat; the four boys here, the other four across the cafe. Dad sat alone, despite being with his two elementary aged kids and beside his wife.

"Oooh...OohOOH!" The younger teen emphasizes the words of the country song-boy humor-innuendo implied, giggling follows-they go back to eating. He strolls across the floor of Lancaster's to test his mother's proferred spoon of bisque-smells it before dropping his mouth onto the scoop.

The food is loosening their solitude. There is reaching across plates, grabbing from other plates, discussion of past meals, "remember that chicken at Leo's?" More singing, sharing, walks to the parents' table and back again.

The meal has reunited a family that was made of eight separate vessels when they arrived. They leave a clumsy, bumping into each other unit, jostling in safety of ONE, smiling and perhaps even unaware of what transpired.

Hope renewed-even as one by one outside on the sidewalk, they go back into hiding.


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