We could have gone to the Gala. At the Performing Arts Center, Gustavo Dudamel had just led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a stunning Bruchner symphony, and all the program’s most ardent supporters were dressed for The Ritz and ready for a sumptuous, post-event dinner.
Then we learned the price: a thousand dollars. Each. Perhaps we didn’t love the symphony quite that much. So instead, Rob and I went to In And Out. (My choice, as long as they continue serving juicy hamburgers, which for me compete with steak.)
Anyway, in the next booth sat three male high-schoolers and a younger boy, all wearing Loyola tee shirts. For awhile I watched them. They all had decent haircuts, their conversation was subdued, and their laughter not too raucous. I thought they were behaving extremely well. Good kids, the kind you wish there were more of.
When they got up to leave, I suddenly decided to run after them. Outside the restaurant I yelled to their retreating backs, “You kids seem like really nice people. I was impressed with how well you behaved.” One of them turned around and grinned. They didn’t actually stop, but I could tell that the one, anyway, was pleased.
As I re-entered the restaurant, a woman stood just inside. She said, “What did you tell those boys?”
I stared at her.
“I’m their mother. Just wondered what you said.” Clearly, she was expecting the worst.
“It was a compliment,” I said, and told her how impressed I’d been.
She grinned, and it was obvious I’d made her day. “People never say nice things to kids. It’s always something negative. We just got back from a Loyola basketball game. They were pretty happy. I was hoping that wouldn’t change.”
“Well, I was thinking good thoughts,” I said. “Why not say them?”
“Yes. Why not?” she said, and we shook hands.
She’d made my day, too. The whole episode took maybe five minutes. I can’t vouch for the Loyola family, but for weeks those five minutes gave me little zings of pleasure.