From time to time I’ve gotten together with a couple of college classmates, Dan and John, and their wives for dinner. Last Saturday, we got together for lunch. Another classmate, John B, and his wife also joined us. It was part of a fairly busy day. I had told them that I’d have to leave by 3:00 so I could get home in time to attend my parish’s “Mass of Remembrance” and the unrelated dinner that would follow it. Lunch was to be at 1:00 at a harbor side seafood restaurant in Boston, about 45 minutes’ drive from my home. After all that was planned, a fellow parishioner asked me to meet him in the morning to tell him what the scripture scholar, who comes to our parish a couple of times a year, had said in the last lecture of a recent three lecture series. That get together lasted from 10:00 to 11:30.
John and Maureen were there when I arrived a couple of minutes before 1:00, and Dan and Carolyn arrived soon after. John B and Winnie got delayed by traffic coming up from the Cape, but were there by 20 past. I followed John’s example and had a bloody mary. As usual, we talked for a while, but owing to my time constraints we had our orders in by 1:45. I decided on the fish in a bag because it had mushrooms. The bag turned out to be cellophane, and the fish was steamed in it. It was brought to the table opened. It was good, maybe not the best fish ever, but enjoyable.
The conversation was pleasant. Despite Maureen’s rule of No Politics, imposed after an evening in which we got into a fairly heated argument, this time we managed to get in a few brief exchanges about the election and the President-elect. I think we all agree that Trump isn’t fit for the job, and much will depend on the people he selects and listens to. There was also a lot of talk about family (John and Maureen’s extended family is fairly large) and some about travel. At one point a couple of books were mentioned, and I took the opportunity to give a strong recommendation for Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard, about James A. Garfield. As soon as I mentioned it, John B. chimed in (see what I did there?*) with an enthusiastic second to my suggestion. He then gave me a couple of other titles — one by Millard — that he thought I’d like. Sometimes there was one conversation going on, sometimes several smaller ones.
It was a fairly pricey afternoon. We decided to split the tab equally, and Dan took charge of the check. It think he included the tax in figuring the tip, and rounded up rather generously, with the result that the tip was about 28% of the total and 37% of the pre-tax amount. Anyway, we paid $50 per person. Parking in the garage was another $29 (The garage at the subway station nearest my home charges $5.) But it was worth it: I can spend as much on a dinner alone, and this was maintaining friendships.
I had a couple of apprehensions beforehand. One is that typically the conversation can go on almost endlessly (the waitress has to come back maybe four times before people decide to order), and that would have been a problem for my getting home in time for the Mass. But they took care of that. The other is that sometimes the conversation includes long stretches of Dan and John exchanging news about classmates with whom I was not acquainted, or only barely so, That makes for a pretty boring time. But this time there was little, if any of that. So it worked out well, and I was home in good time.
*In college, John B was a member of the a cappella octet called The Chimes. I didn’t think of the play on words until after I had written “chimed in.”