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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Friendship · #2061375
Internet friends Barb & Carol meet for the first time after 3 years of online friendship.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
August 2003
Barbara E. Taylor and Carol St. Ann

The Players:
UserName / Real Name
Barb is, uh, Barb Taylor
Mem is Carol Marsella (aka: Carol St. Ann on WDC)
Jenx is Tamm Jenkins
Pon (Ponbon) is Judy Kennedy
DHK is (Actor) Daniel Hugh Kelly
Kathryn is Kathryn Marin
Nancy is Nancy Connolly
Mables is Ilene Kliman
Hottie is Cathy Mathews
Evil Waitress, Parker, and Delightful Waitress play themselves. *Bigsmile*

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
Barbara Taylor August 2003

Mem and I met for brunch in Mendham. We met at 11 AM. We parted at 9:30 PM. That was as soon as we could tear ourselves away from each other. It was a serendipitous day. So much fun and laughing we drove everyone around us crazy. By the time we valet-parked the cars in the same lot for the third time, giggling helplessly, the young man held up his hand and said "That's all right, ladies. You won't need a ticket. I'll remember you." We were sure it was a compliment.

To begin with, it was a spectacular day. Absolutely primo perfect summer Sunday. Bright sun, clear air, light breeze, fluffy clouds. It could not have been better weather. The setting for brunch was the Black Horse Inn in Mendham. I have already taunted some of you with the website. Brunch starts at 11, we met at 11, we greeted, hugged, sat down at our table and the first words out of Mem's mouth were "So, DHK is cute..." and we were off and running at the mouth. Seldom has so much been said to so few for so long. LOL Mem is very bright, fast, funny, holds nothing back, and says more with a shrug than most people can say in 10,000 words. (For example, as she tucked a stray bra strap back where it belonged - "It's clean, it's paid for" *shrug*) She is also caring, sincere and a beautiful person. I laughed until my sides ached and listened in awe and wonder a time or two. There were so many stories, we covered so many topics I can not even begin to remember it all. Kathryn has met her. Nancy, you'd love her. The four of us in a room are a bestselling novel or hit play/movie.

The waitress brought us coffee and mimosas and we yakked. It was a buffet, so what's the hurry. At some point, about an hour later, the waitress came by, clearly unnerved that we had not yet browsed for food. We dutifully got up and filled plates so she would feel her world was normal. Waitress walks by a few minutes later and I point to my plate and say "See? Food!" meaning it to be funny. The look she gave me straightened my hair, which sent us into gales of laughter and more hilarity ensued.

After another hour or so we hit the buffet again, half-heartedly, and continued to talk. It was as though we were downloading each other's brains all at once instead of the year Kathryn and I and Nancy and I have spent doing the same thing. If you tried to draw a picture of our conversations it would be a gigantic doodle with spirals and circles, detour signs and dangerous curve signs, question marks, exclamation points and lots of repetitions of the DHK initials.

At some point that felt as though only an hour or two had gone by, the Evil Waitress left our check on the table and informed us we had broken the buffet. At least, that's what we thought she said. Actually she said they were breaking down the buffet. We looked at our watches and it was 3PM. Who knew? I want to stress that at no time were we holding a table that others wanted, nor did we prevent anyone on staff from turning a table. This place got one turn for brunch. Probably because of the Evil Waitress.

We retired to the ladies' room for needed ablutions and that was when the first lost article was returned to us. I had left my sunglasses at the table and the Fair Young Hostess (not the Evil Waitress) brought them to me in the ladies' room. Seems as an organization, the restaurant was fairly well aware of us. Having my sunglasses returned to me caused me to ask Mem if she had retrieved the monopoly notes from the table. (See, Mem and I spent a while figuring out a Ponderosa monopoly game. I don't remember why, but it's great.) She snapped her fingers and disappeared for a blink, returning with the precious back of the paper menu in her hands. She folded it carefully and put it in her purse for later discussion.

At that point we have our first/second encounter with the valet parker. I will refer to him as Parker from now on. See I had gotten there so early the Valet Parking sign was not out and I had self-parked and had my keys. (I know, Kathryn, but it was not a work day.) It's my first encounter. Mem had arrived and valet-parked. So Parker had her keys. We stroll over to Parker. We are not ready to part company because we haven't covered even half the ground we wanted to cover so we look at each other and look up at the sky and put a finger up to test the wind and simultaneously exclaim ""Ice Cream!"

The eager Parker has already held out his hand for Mem's ticket but she says can we leave the cars and come back later. He agrees that's no problem at all. Mem hands him a line about us being Charlie's Angels in disguise and asks where is the nearest ice cream parlor. It's right up the block, easy to find. Great, say we, and head up the block.

Mendham is a Revolutionary War town. I know, I know. All the wonderful old houses on the main street in the center are now shops and studios. It's charming. We wander in search of ice cream and spot an antique shop. Mem loves antiques. I love antiques. She likes to use antiques as inspiration for her stories. I am experiencing deja vu all over again. We hit the antique shop. (Mem doesn't put her stuff on the web but, I learn, she does dabble at fanfic from time to time, just for the fun of it.) We putter happily around in the shop, Mem buys a Civil War era pamphlet and we exit to the street, exclaiming for the tenth time about the beauty of the day. We wander into a country store next and come face to face with chickens. Mem has just visited Jenx, so chickens are high on her list as a hostess gift. We've got ceramic chickens, oil-painted chickens, cloth chickens, chickens on cards, here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick-chick. Mem plucks a chicken for Jenx and we hit the sidewalk again. (It's a surprise, so don't let Jenx know if you happen to be talking to her.)

We finally spot the ice cream parlor across the street. We stroll up to the front door and pull the handle. It's closed. On a summer Sunday. Go figure. A woman arrives with two young children. We figure this is a person who knows from ice cream, so we make queries about some thing that might take us in a homeward direction. She gives us excellent directions to a truly fabulous place in Morristown. Terrific. We head back to the Inn to get the cars. Then we realize we'll have to stop talking if we go in two cars. So we discuss going in one car and backtracking to pick up the other one. Doesn't feel right. So we decide to go FURTHER WEST to Chester, an even older Revolutionary War town, where we both know there is a great ice cream place. I offer to drive so we won't have to disturb Parker or unvalet Mem's car. We explain our plan to Parker who is agreeable to us picking up Mem's car later. We head for Chester. Still talking.

We get to Chester, which has more charming and delightful little boutiques located in more 18th century houses than you can shake a stick at. We drop into a few, because why hurry now that we know where the ice cream is? We eventually come to the marvelous home-made ice cream shoppe (yes, it's a shoppe) and have ice cream and ice water. During the course of eating the ice cream, Mem said something so funny I got a brain freeze and ice cream in my nose. It's not as unpleasant as you might suppose.

After disposing of ice cream we wander a bit more, then head eastward once again to drop by the Inn and pick up Mem's car. We pull into the Inn (It's actually a pavered stagecoach turnaround) and Mem starts to get out, valet ticket in hand. Parker quickly goes to get her car. While he's gone, we decide we don't want to stop yet. Why don't we have dinner in the Inn? See we had brunch in the Pub on one side of the stableyard. It's a converted barn or carriage house. The Inn itself is porched and awninged and dripping with atmosphere. We had checked it out by wandering through after brunch. We even spotted a table we liked. So just as Parker arrives with Mem's car, we tell him to take it back and here's another car for ya. See ya after dinner. That's when he tells us we won't need tickets. He'll just know.

As we head into the Inn our eyes were caught by several beautiful dogs lounging quietly on the steps. At second glance we realize by the harnesses that they are seeing-eye dogs. Labs and Goldens and a beautiful Boxer.

We step into the Inn where Charming Hostess II offers us a nice table, but guess what? The table we liked earlier is open. We gesture elegantly as if to say "This one, perhaps?" She says "But of course." and we sit. Delightful Waitress appears immediately to take our drink order - wine all around. Then we start to talk. Delightful Waitress or DW as we will call her, comes to take our order, we haven't looked at the menu. She understands and tells us not to rush. Like we would rush. But it was nice to be assured we wouldn't ruin her evening if we didn't rush.

At the large table in the middle of our room are now seated about 12 sight-impaired people, each with their own seeing-eye dog, at the feet of each master, down, quiet and docile. You had to look for them to know they were in the room. Those dogs are such a wonder. It was beautiful to see so many of them in one place.

Out comes the monopoly plan and we giggle and hone it a little more. We agree to order salad so DW will feel useful. Salad arrives and we put monopoly aside. Truly awesome salad. (Spinach salad with a dijon vinaigrette. Incredible.) Followed by truly awesome dinner. (Pork medallions for Mem, Cod with a horseradish and crab crust for me. I won't even bother to comment. Use your imaginations. I allowed DW to pack mine to go. Couldn't finish, too good to leave.) Followed by truly awesome dessert and coffee. (Chocolate mousse for Mem, Key Lime pie for me. I know, I know.)

We sat over coffee and started to work on monopoly again. Oh no! It's missing! DW must have grabbed it when she cleared the dishes. It was on the back of a paper menu, after all. How was she to know? We sigh, I dig out the paper menu on which I had made a note or two and we start all over again. Well, we had to.

At that point, Mem's cell phone rings. It's Jenx, who knew we were meeting and figured it was late enough to get a rundown. Imagine her surprise when she got to talk to me - but not until Mem had laid a little groundwork about what a bitch I turned out to be and how she couldn't wait for brunch to end, she had put in an hour at the most and been glad to go. More insanity. If you think Jenx is funny in print you should talk to her. Man oh man.

So now it is quite a bit later, we have been kidding with DW all evening, she is easy and has no problem with our pace, we have more coffee and talk. We managed to close the restaurant. After having opened the companion restaurant that morning. They all know us. Really well. We left DW an excellent tip. As we exit the building, Parker spots us on the steps from across the stable yard and the cars appear magically. We tipped him generously too. Now we had to leave. We were almost talked out anyway. She has only sent me two emails while I have been writing this and I have replied.

Needless to say I giggled all the way home. Reached a severe level of giggling when I got home, reached across the front seat to grab my seeing-eye doggy bag and noticed her pamphlet and chicken gift in the shopping bag on the floor of my front seat. We really are dangerous. It started with my sunglasses, then the monopoly the first time, then her cell phone even though she had it, then monopoly vanishes and she leaves her stuff in my car.

As we said our good nights, I quipped something about this being β€œthe beginning,” and Mem finished, β€œof a beautiful friendship.” Exit laughing.

# BET with a little help from CM (CsA)
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