It was a rainy Sunday, my family was traveling home from my sister’s high school rodeo- I forget which one. I was three or four years old, a picky eater and many of my family’s acquaintances referred to me as “precocious.” I spent most of my childhood around teenagers and adults as we spent most weekends at some competition or another for my sisters. I was outgoing, collected rocks most of which I gifted to my sisters’ friends.
I don’t know whose decision it was to eat at Ponderosa Steakhouse, and I guess it doesn’t matter, but we parked our horse trailer under the big green sign and walked in. I was fascinated by the decor and even the landscaping. The restaurant had these white rocks with green flecks in them by the sidewalks. I loved rocks, and those speckled rocks made me happy. I almost didn’t want to go inside, but the rumbling in my tummy made me turn away.
Our waiter was tall, skinny and had the friendly air of someone who enjoyed being around people. He had short cut, curly hair, but what I mostly noticed about him were his hands. He had long, slender fingers and longer fingernails than I was used to seeing on people, but what stood out was the colour of his palms. They were several shades lighter than the skin on the back of his hands. I had never encountered someone whose hands looked like that before. My small world revolved around my family, my sisters’ friends, and neighbors. Most of whom had short nails, calloused hands, and they all had a similar skin tone. So much about the waiter was just so different to my four year old self.
I stared, fascinated, but he broke me from my inquisitive silence when he asked, “Do you like chicken strips?” I giggled, nodded my head yes, and turned shy. He spent the rest of the time during our meal trying to get me to talk to him. I played coy, but my parents must have told him that I wasn’t shy by nature, and by desert I finally talked. He had won me over with a chocolate chip cookie and kindness.