Our reading group went out to lunch to mark the end of the year and to celebrate the friend whose house we gather in. Our meetings are spent in conversation, drinking tea or coffee, eating chocolate and the various vehicles it comes on, and enjoying the view from her window - garden flowers, birds, the occasional wild creature looking for culinary delights, her herd of woodchucks, and vistas of snow and leaves in transition, depending on the season. Our specialies are not sticking to the topic and enjoying each other's company. In addition to a free lunch, one of our members presented our host with a solar waving queen, an object that has to be seen to be appreciated.
Waiting for our eats to appear, a small commotion took shape on one side of the table. One of our members was paying very close attention to a moving creature on the table. She peered down to get a close look at it, and wondered aloud what it was. "A tick," pronounced one of our more authoritative members. We all craned to get a better look at it and freely offered our advice on how to handle the situation. The discoverer of this added member of our party tried to drown it with a little water added over its body but she sadly noted that it just swam its way out after its refreshing dip. There ensued a gory set of tales of tick encounters with the inevitable conclusion that these little eight legged tanks are close to indestructible. One of our members pleaded for us to change the topic, but it was clear that the tick had to be dealt with. Our honored guest got up, gathered up the tick in her napkin, and headed for the door.
Apparently, the eyes of the restaurant had been on us. "What was it?" whispered the inhabitant of one table - eying her newly arrived meal - as the intrepid one-person tick destruction squad came back inside. "Just a tick," was the reassuring reply. "What did you do with it?" we asked as she returned to the table. "I let it go" was the response. "You WHAT????" we cried in disbelief at her tender-hearted action.
Several years ago one of our local restaurants had been driven out of business because one of the take-out orders contained a rat part that had been mysteriously included in the order. Even though every investigative organization, from the health inspector upward, cleared the restaurant, the lurid reports in the newspaper could not be overcome in the mind of the public, and the eatery closed on the strength of those initial stories. I was glad that the customer inquired after the cause of our commotion, and we could unequivocally say that there was no cause for concern, the tick (who lives on ready for new adventures) was of outside origin. We proceded to enjoy our meal immensely - company and food - and we look forward to another year of tea, chocolate and friendship.