Last week, Marnell had a meeting with the church leadership team on Friday night. The schedules of my Laurel Street friends and I actually aligned, so we planned to go to Bacon Hill for some delightful southern food.
I punched Bacon Hill into Google Maps on my phone and saw that it would take only 24 minutes to bike there, via a lovely meandering bike route along the river. I’ve been enjoying biking lately, so I thought that sounded perfect.
Velinda, however, who has the world’s best nose for detecting offensive odors, pointed out that we didn’t exactly want to arrive at Bacon Hill disheveled and sweaty. Also, the forecast was dicey. Also, I was churning up a quick batch of ice cream for Marnell’s meeting and that might interfere with leaving early. So I ditched the bike idea, and contented myself with thinking of how much fun it would be to eat at Bacon Hill, especially since I hadn’t seen Kendra for awhile. It would be the four of us, just like old times.
As I worked in the kitchen a few hours before Bacon Hill, I listened to a a few lines of My Utmost For His Highest.
“God is never in a hurry,” said the reader for Oswald Chambers.
That’s a great point, I thought. Why should we be in a hurry?
Then, I rushed off to do a little cleaning, hoping I wouldn’t forget to start the ice cream. I was hoping Marnell would get home from work early. We would chat a bit and I would hand the ice cream off and we would both float off to our evening appointments.
But, my old nemesis, Hwy 20.
Somewhere, for some reasons, out on Hwy 20, Marnell got stuck in a traffic jam on his way home from work.
Well, either we would miss each other or I would be late to Bacon Hill. I had the ice cream maker running, so I decided I’d better wait for Marnell. I sent the girls a text to apologize that I would be a little late. I tasted the ice cream just to make sure it was fine.
As the bite of ice cream melted in my mouth I detected something alarming: onions.
I had left the mix in the fridge in a plastic container. Had it once contained onions that had now infused the ice cream with their essence? Or was it some other flavor picked up in the refrigerator?
Hwy 20 got moving again (as much as it ever moves) and Marnell made it home. He tasted the ice cream, and wasn’t sure he would have noticed the flavor if I hadn’t mentioned it. We decided it wasn’t too bad to serve, especially with the addition of the fresh strawberries I had to send with it.
I headed out the door and jumped in my car, relieved that my problems were over. Marnell could deal with the questionable ice cream. I would soon be relaxing with good friends and food. I had barely gotten on the road when Velinda text to say they had arrived at the restaurant and were outside. I buzzed off down the street in a flurry, anxious that I was keeping my friends waiting. (Was I thinking of how God is never in a hurry and so we don’t need to be either? Nope.)
You know, I thought to myself as I pressed the accelerator and bounced through construction, I haven’t been to Bacon Hill for awhile.
I was pretty sure I knew which way to go, but I put it into my phone on Google Maps anyway. It would be most embarrassing to be even more late because I got lost.
Immediately, Google Maps told me to turn onto a small side road.
Okay, fine, I thought, and turned.
I fancied that Google Maps knew of an efficient side road that I was forgetting about that would help me bypass Friday evening traffic.
I went about four yield signs down a quiet street. Then Google Maps told me to turn south.
And just how is this helping me get north to Bacon Hill? I wondered, but I was much too in a hurry to stop and look at my phone. So I plunged on making turns from one tiny street to the next in a dizzying maze until I came to the main road I had been on earlier, just a little farther east.
Then it hit me: I still had Google Maps set on bicycle routes.
My faithful phone was doing its best to get this poor bicyclist back to the safe, meandering back road path by the river.
Ugh, ugh and ugh!
I quickly corrected the map. I shot north on Osolo Street and east on Bristol Street, my conscience smiting me a little because of my speed.
What a relief to finally arrive at Bacon Hill, about ten minutes late. My three friends were sitting behind a metal fence at a table under strings of lights. The weather was lovely despite the earlier fears.
I whipped into a parking spot.
Hurray! This time my problems truly were over. No more thoughts about onion-flavored ice cream. No more wandering bicycle routes with a car. Just a lovely dinner with friends on the patio.
I leaped out of my car, thrust my keys in my purse, and dashed toward the restaurant.
The host pointed me to the end of the dining room, past tables packed with diners. There, customers apparently exited either by opening a door on the right or by simply walking out through an open doorway on the left.
I threaded my way between the tables, bending forward in my eagerness to join my friends outside. I circled around a high top table where an elegant lady was sitting close to the exit. I charged the open doorway.
My skull cracked against something immovable and my entire body came to a sudden stop.
The sound my skull made was not as explosive as a shot gun but had other similar qualities of percussion.
“Are you all right?” The elegant lady at the high top asked pleasantly, unable to hide an expression of slightly amused astonishment.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I said shakily, with a stunned glance at the glass barricade.
It was NOT an open doorway.
Clearly, instant flight was my best option.
“I’ve never been so glad to see you,” I gasped, my hands flailing in agitation. I collapsed into the waiting chair. “You have no idea what I just did!”
I dissolved into hysterical laughter, but managed to wheeze out the story.
“I heard a bang,” Velinda said when she could speak.
We laughed until we cried. People kept trying to compose themselves, and then they would start in again.
“My only consolation is that none of you saw me,” I said.
I rubbed my forehead, which was decidedly tender.
“I was just thinking how disappointed I am that I missed it,” Sarah said.
“What are the odds,” I asked, “that everyone who was in that dining room will be gone by the time we leave?”
About that time the waitress brought drinks.
“I just walked into your glass window,” I confessed.
“You aren’t the first,” she reassured me. “Kids usually bounce off of it.”
We stayed a long time chatting, so I think everyone had left by the time I walked back through. Notably, a couple of stools and a chair had been placed in front of the glass window.
Well. I’m hoping to remember that God is never in a hurry, even though I’m good at forgetting. Also I’m hoping my friends will forget that incident, but they are awfully good at remembering.
And I got good news from Bev, who was hosting Marnell’s meeting.
“I got some of your ice cream and strawberries because the guys didn’t eat all of it! It was very delicious, thank you so much! It sure doesn’t taste onion.”
At least we had some good food.