Yesterday, 17 July, my wife and I celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of our marriage by going to dinner at a The Bistro, a local establishment in Oswego, New York, our city of residence, where we have previously had pleasant experiences. Not the least part of that pleasure is the affability of the establishment’s bartender, Mark, whom I know also from Old City Hall, where we both like to drink. Mark, a former SUNY Oswego Philosophy major, is a friendly acquaintance.
In any case, I tried to dress for the occasion. It was too hot and muggy for a jacket but I wore a black tuxedo-style shirt with a bow tie and I sported my new hat, a white Panama with the characteristic broad brim and a black band. When we decided to eat at the bar, I put the hat on the table behind us, where, of course, I failed to retrieve it when we got up to leave. (The two Martinis might have had something to do with it.)
Not only did I leave the hat behind, but I forgot it entirely. Then, around ten o’clock this morning, my telephone (yes – I maintain a land line) rang and when I picked it up I recognized the voice of my friend Dick Fader, who is also a regular at Old City Hall. Dick told me that he had just received a telephone call from Mark (my number not being known to him), and that Mark had told him (that is, Dick) that he (that is, Mark) had rescued my hat when he left work, and that he had left it for me at Old City Hall.
I thanked Dick for passing along the message and when I was out in the car running my daily errands, I stopped in at Old City Hall to ask after the object. Alison, the waitress on duty during the lunch-shift, kindly went looking for it, but could not find it. I thought to myself, well, maybe Dick got the message a bit mixed up and the hat is still at The Bistro with Mark. Now, having remembered my hat, I wanted not to lose it.
The Bistro opens for business at four, but I knew that Mark would be in at three setting things up. He was and I knocked on the door. I said, “Dick told me you rescued my hat.” “Yes,” he answered, “but I hadn’t been by Old City Hall yet when you made your earlier visit.” Mark knew of my earlier visit because Alison had told him about it. Old City Hall lies about a hundred paces from The Bistro, so I walked there and as soon as Alison saw me, she reached behind the counter and returned the item too me. She had placed it neatly in a large plastic bag – the kind that they use for take-out orders – so that it would not accidentally get dirtied.
Does my little story have a moral? Only that if it had been Syracuse, the regional capitol of virtue-signaling diversity, instead of bland, we’re-all pretty-much-the-same Oswego my hat would simply have disappeared. The difference between Syracuse and Oswego is that the former is relatively large (250,000 or so) and Oswego is relatively small (16,000 or so). Small is beautiful.