Location: A Dairy Queen off of I-80 in Iowa.
My teenage Aunt was working at the Dairy Queen and her shift ended at 9pm. Normally my Grandma picked her up from work, but it was my grandparents' wedding anniversary and they were going out to dinner, so she asked my mother to give Aunt Lori a ride home. My father was working two jobs then: one at a factory and at night he worked at his father's gas station (which was next door to the Dairy Queen). He was taking a dinner break when my mother walked into the restaurant that night.
This is my own dramatized version of the scene of my parents' first meeting...I've taken some poetic license/liberties, so this won't be exactly the way it happened...But, Mom and Dad (John and Lynn), I dedicate this Blog entry to you!!! Love, Laura!
Lynn did not feel like going out that night. With everything she had been through lately, all she wanted was to go home, hide in her room, and curl up with a good book. "Why didn't I say, 'no' to Mom when she asked me to pick Lori up?" Lynn mumbled to herself as she locked her car and started to walk toward the Dairy Queen. "Lori could have gotten a ride from one of her friends...Oh well, I'll be home soon enough."
The library had been closed to the public for Veterans Day, but she had gone to her office and worked anyway...Now at 9pm, she was still in her work clothes -- a flattering blue and red dress and snaky high-healed shoes that made her feel tall. She glanced at her reflection in the glass door as she entered the Restaurant...her long strawberry-blonde hair was tousled perfectly as it cascaded down her back.
At first Lynn didn't see any customers in the Restaurant. The place wasn't officially closed yet, but the waitresses were already wiping off tables and mopping the floor. Lori was standing behind the front counter counting the money in one of the registers. "Hello, Gorgeous!" Lynn said. "You about ready to go?"
Lori looked up and smiled, her long blonde hair was braided and wrapped around her head like a crown. "Hi Sis..." Lori said sheepishly..."I think closing is going to take longer than I thought. After I get done counting down this register, my boss said I have to go into the kitchen and help mop up some spilled ice cream. We had an...accident with the machine a few minutes ago."
Lynn's heart sank and suddenly she wanted to yawn. "How long are we talkin here?"
Lori grimaced. "Half hour?"
Lynn sighed. "Okay, Kid. I'll wait." She turned around and leaned on the counter for a few seconds examining the room. She thought about sitting in one of the booths and waiting quietly, but the thought of sitting there alone with nothing to do and no book to read (and bad memories flooding through her mind) wasn't very appealing. She walked over to the window opposite the front counter to look out at the passing cars when suddenly she felt like she was being watched. Slowly she turned around and noticed the booths and tables in a narrow isle to the left of the front counter.
Sitting in one of the booths was a handsome young man with brown hair. He was wearing a pair of overalls and a gray hooded sweat shirt. When he saw Lynn turn and look at him, he looked down and pretended to be interested in his food. She thought he looked sweet and not relishing the idea of sitting alone, she decided to walk over and talk to him.
"Anybody sitting here?" Lynn asked smiling.
John looked up at the beautiful woman standing next to his booth. She couldn't be talking to me, he thought to himself and glanced around to see if there was anyone else she could possibly be talking to. She looked like a model and dressed like some girl in a magazine.
Finally John managed to speak. "Um, no. No one is sitting here," he stammered.
"Mind if I join you?" she asked.
"Uh, no, sure...Go ahead," John heard himself say.
Lynn slid into the seat and smiled. "I'm Lynn," she said. "I didn't feel like sitting alone. Hope you don't mind."
"I'm John," he said. "You from around here?" He asked awkwardly.
As Lynn answered his question, she watched as John ate some of his French Fries. She had never seen anyone eat like that before. He took a small hand full of them and shoved them all into his mouth at once. She wondered if watching him eat his two hot dogs or drink his large Coke was going to be as entertaining.
"I grew up in Davenport," Lynn said. "I lived in California for 16 years and now I'm back."
When John had finished chewing he replied, "I lived out there for a while when I was in the Navy...I lived in Hawaii for a while too."
"I spent 6 months in Hawaii," Lynn told him. "It was beautiful out there...It wasn't home though..."
John nodded and took a sip of his Coke. "While I was out west and at sea all I could think about was coming home."
"I felt the same way," Lynn replied.
I'm not sure what my parents talked about that night. Mom said that Lori took her time cleaning in the kitchen and she and my father talked for a long time and became friends. A short while later they started dating and a few months afterward they were married. Its funny how you can find your best friend and soul mate in a chance meeting at the Dairy Queen...
And just in case you're wondering, Dad still eats French Fries that way...