Did you ever misread a situation so dramatically it lead you to question your ability to read signs at all?
I did several times last week.
A lonely looking man approached my daughters and me as we were sitting at a rooftop establishment waiting for sunset.
“Is it okay if I sit over here?” he asked and gestured to a table near us.
“Of course!” I said, and I thought he looked very comfortable in his skin, sitting there all alone watching the sky. Traveling businessman, I thought.
Then, a buddy showed up. Then, another. Very soon our little corner of solitude was crawling with college students ready to party, our apparently-younger-than-I-thought friend right smack in the middle of them.
“Huh!” I said to my daughters, “I guess he wasn’t lonely after all.”
Later that evening, we stopped to listen to a band and an older couple danced right into my line of vision. So, I watched them for a while. As is my reflex, I wrote a little story about them in my head. Sweet old married couple. A couple of kids and several grandkids. Out for a stroll when they spotted a band. So, instinctively, they reached for each other and they danced.
Just as I had wrapped up my assessment, the song ended and they walked away from each other. The next thing I knew, he was out there dancing just as happily with another woman, and she with a different man.
“Huh!” I said to my daughters. “I guess they weren’t married after all.”
On another occasion, we spotted an adorable looking deli with a quaint sign hanging in front. “Closed for the Sabbath,” it read. “But you are welcome to come to our home and eat with us.”
The sign included a map to their home. We would never intrude on a family dinner, but we talked about strolling past the home to tell them how charming we found their place.
Yesterday, I decided to look into that cute little deli. It turns out The Yellow Deli is a kind of chain run by the Twelve Tribes, a Christian sect focused on “producing an army of 144,000 male virgins, who would prepare the way for Christ’s second coming.” It has been referred to by several sources as a cult.
“Huh!” I wrote to my daughters. “I guess it wasn’t a cute little family deli after all.”
If you need me, I’ll be here. In my house. Minding my own business and questioning every assumption I’ve ever made.