Breaking with tradition

Melissa Stagnaro

If my aunt, Sister Kathleen, were here right now, she’d probably slap my hand with her ruler. And I’d totally deserve it. You se, I fell of the Lenten wagon.

Now, don’t jump to the conclusion. I didn’t break down and buy any books, as tempting as that is. I’ve still stayed faithful to that Lenten vow. My transgression came during lunch, when I ordered – and polished off – a cheeseburger. That’s right. I ate meat on Friday. I know, I’m a bad Catholic. But I assure you, there were extenuating circumstances. Because today was the end of Friday Lunch as we know it.

Friday Lunch. I remember well the end of my first work week at the paper, when I was indoctrinated into this, perhaps the longest standing of Evening Sun traditions. Or at least one of the few we’re free to talk about in public.

At precisely 12:30 p.m. each Friday, the Evening Sun staff embarks en masse for our weekly lunch date. New staffers learn early – and usually the hard way – not to infringe on this sacred tradition. We need that time, you see, to relax and regroup after a busy week and prepare ourselves for all the news that is yet to come.

In the summer, these sometime lengthy repasts typically take place on the deck at Canasawacta Country Club. The rest of the year, Fred’s Inn is our Friday home, where our favorite waitress Patty is always eager to cater to our every whim.

But that wasn’t the case today. Oh, we made our way to Fred’s as usual, but this time Patty wasn’t there to greet us.

We’d heard rumors and rumblings over the last week or two, that she was no longer in the restaurant’s employ, but none of us wanted to believe it. But today, as we were handed menus by a new waitress (the admittedly very pleasant Honey), we knew it to be true. Michelle, long a staple behind the bar at Fred’s, confirmed it for us.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that Patty won’t be a part of our Friday Lunches any more. You see, she never had to ask what we were eating or drinking. She just knew. (No, she wasn’t clairvoyant. We’re just creatures of habit.)

Seeing one tradition disappear into dust, I broke another. Jeff suggested that I give something else up for Lent in addition to the ban on buying books, as penance, I guess.

But maybe giving up Friday Lunches with Patty is enough of a penance. Unfortunately, we’ll all be stuck with it even after these 40 days are up.

Bye, Patty. We’ll miss you.

Friday Lunch just won’t be the same without you.

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