Blog Post, Personal Essay

Sweet Surprises and Judgmental Me

This is a little story about gratitude and trying to be a better person.

On Thursday night, my spouse and I went out to dinner. I was in the mood for pizza, so we went to a place called BJ’s, which is a kind of mash-up between family style and sports bar.

Being a Thursday night in September, there was a football game on, and I tend to get invested in these things. I was rooting for the Browns to win their first game and we got there in the final quarter. It was a close game. Fortunately, there wasn’t anyone seated too near us, until about 15-minutes later, when a large group came in together and were seated at two tables right behind us.

They weren’t particularly loud or anything, but a few of them kept getting up to go to the bathroom or wherever. I get annoyed by little things, and this was doing it. I also noticed it was the same few members of that group who kept getting up and wandering off. I figured drugs or sex in the bathroom, because I’m a non-judgmental optimist who always thinks the best of people.

Then, just as the game ended, two of the group, a guy and girl, stood up and starting singing Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” They actually sounded great, yet my first reaction was, “are you kidding? People are trying to enjoy their own dinners!” As they were near to finishing, a young woman in a red dress got up from her side of the table, carrying some kind of poem in her hand. She knelt in front of another young woman, sitting closer to our table, read the poem, pulled out a ring, and proposed. It was a “yes.”

It was all pre-planned. Their families and friends were there to share in that moment and celebrate it. The tables around our section clapped for them. It was like being in a movie; I’d never seen it happen in person before. And it got me thinking.

When I’m self-involved, I tend to get irritated by things that really are no big deal. But when I’m invited into others’ special moments like that, I feel real gratitude for being part of it. I was thrilled to have been a witness to that loving moment, and especially to see them surrounded by such support and positivity.

I wish we could do more of that for each other, but of course we have to get over ourselves first. I needed the reminder, and I’m thankful for it.

Post-Script: We sent dessert to their tables, which was fun. I’d never done that before either. I hope it added just a tiny bit more joy to their special night. 

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