I have a very good friend from my high school days that I have told some stories about before here in past episodes of our Solid Rock Minnesota Podcast and Blog. She is a friend that goes back to our teenage years, when we attended an all girls Catholic High School together. We have many great stories about Catholic school and the nuns. We graduated together way back when. After High School we were the first ever women to work at gates at the Minnesota State Fair together for about 20 years (that is how we got the name the “Tootsie Sisters”), and we were in each other's weddings over 40 years ago. And through all we have been through together in the span of 50 years or so, we only manage to see each other in person maybe 1-2 times a year. Try as we may, but time, family commitments and life just seem to keep plowing down the road and keeping us from making time to physically get together. But yesterday that finally changed and I was able to meet up with my old friend the Tootsie Sister for a long overdue in person visit at Olive Garden. That has become our spot to meet up over the years, just because it is a halfway point from our houses…and we both can indulge in salad, breadsticks and pasta that someone else serves us.
It was a few weeks ago when I got a text from my friend saying it was time to try again to get together. We had made previous plans to go kayaking last Summer, but Covid, work schedules, and tornadoes kept it from happening. And so here it was a year since our last visit and we made definite plans to meet up at Olive Garden and catch up on life.
Saturday morning came and I was up early, ready to get stuff done before I left for the Cities to drive down to Olive garden. I was excited to finally get together. It is always a good time when we get together. We can get caught up on things going on in our lives, our kids and spouses and have some good laughs at ourselves as we grow older.
11:30 came and we both pulled up to Olive Garden at the same time and after a few bear hugs and the discussion if we needed masks or not, we masked up and went and got our table. As we were walking in, my friend let me know she had had a cold, but went and got tested for Covid. The test was negative, but she still had a bit of a tickly cough she was dealing with. Jackets off, masks off, water delivered, the conversation began. The waitress came by and got our orders for the salad, soup and breadsticks and we went back to filling each other in on family and life the past year.
While she was talking she kind of swallowed wrong and began coughing. You know that feeling when the tickle in your throat won’t stop and you just start hacking away like your lung is going to pop out of your mouth any second and land in your salad? As much as she tried to hide the hacking cough, she couldn’t.
In this age of “any cough is Covid”, people around us began to stare, a few with not too appreciative glances. It is so crazy these days when a person sneezes, coughs or sniffles in public, a wide path is made and people scatter away like field mice when the barn cat shows up. My poor friend, after trying to stifle her cough, turning beet red and not getting any relief, decided to run to the bathroom for a few seconds. When she came back she was fine, but was feeling pretty self-conscious as people kept glancing over at us. Our waitress pretty much stayed clear of us the rest of the visit too.
I told my friend we needed to finish up and go out to the car and finish our visit. Although it was sunny, the wind was blowing and it was about 12 above. We got in her car, turned on the heated seats and blower and continued our visit for the next 45 minutes with no worries of people staring at us.
We talked about so many things and there were new conversations for us…Social Security and Medicare…401K’s and when is a good time to call it quits from the job and retire. We agreed her time is getting close for her to retire. There was a slight pause in the conversation as we both watched people going in and out of Olive Garden. In that moment of silence, sitting in her car with the heated seats, I realized as I looked at my friend, the Tootsie Sister, and she looked at me. We both just laughed out loud as we said at the same time, “God we are getting old!”. After 50 years together this friendship only grows deeper as our lives grow older. Until next time my Tootsie Sister!