It was the 4th of July, 1984.
I was with my oldest friend Lisa (who is still my oldest friend today, although she is somehow still 3 months younger than I am). We had just spent a wonderful evening having a picnic in the park, and then watched the fireworks when it got dark. I distinctly remember a fireworks display in the shape of Snoopy and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Wow, things sure have changed since then. Hello, drones!
Afterwards, she suggested having a slice of pie in a Denny’s not far from where we were. I agreed immediately (I’m known for saying YES to the pie.) We had coffee and pie and both were delicious. I went to the ladies’ room afterwards, and upon my return, my brilliant, crazy Lisa said, ‘I have a great idea. You go out and start the car. Wait in the parking lot. I’m going to run out and not pay and then we’ll drive away like Bonnie and Clyde! DINE AND DITCH!!’ ” (Yes, this was years before Thelma and Louise.)
Being the risk-taker that I am, and being a rebellious 16-year old, this was an offer I couldn’t refuse. She knew me so well. First the pie, and then this devilish, illegal prank. Operation Dine and Ditch was ON.
I sauntered out of the Denny’s like nobody’s business. I started the car with shaking hands. And waited. One of the longest waits of my life. Years later (ok, maybe 5 minutes later), Lisa comes running out, jumps in the car, and screams ‘HIT IT! GO GO GO GO!”
I screeched away like a bat out of Hell. I drove into the night, sweat dripping down my back, windows open, the Clash burning up my radio, feeling free, feisty, and fantastic.
It was truly Independence Day. WOO-HOO!
And then the guilt hit.
I myself was working as a waitress – how could I have even agreed to do such a thing?
I felt ashamed. I was mad at Lisa. I was mad at myself.
The next time I was at that Denny’s, I left the waitress a ridiculously large tip. She asked me if I had made a mistake and I told her ‘Yes, I did. But not this time.’ Her smile compensated, albeit briefly, for what I had done.
I kept this guilty feeling inside of me for many, many years.
And then, Lisa, my oldest friend who is 3 months younger than I am, told me one sunny day, maybe a decade later, that she had actually paid the bill that day. SHE. HAD. PAID.
The joke was on me the whole time.
HA. HA. HA.
Still love her, though. (Love you honey, I know you’re reading this. Kisses to B and the girls!)
Still love pie.
Still tip waitresses like crazy.
And today I still feel free, feisty, and fabulous.
Without the guilt.
What makes you feel free?
What risks are you going to take today?
Grab the pie.
And then the bill.