On Thanksgiving weekend my family was invited to stay at the Laguna Beach house. My mother had planned a weekend of activities for my two brothers and two sisters. It would be a combo venue of Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. As it turned out both our families had visited Disneyland on Thanksgiving in 1955 (the year it opened). Jenny and I had possibly ridden the same rides together as 10 year olds.
We had a good weekend visit and were working through the awkwardness of my family getting to know Jenny. There was some tension because everyone was trying to make a good impression.
At Knott’s Berry Farm we had traditionally gone to the Chicken Dinner House which was always crowded. The long wait was trying everyone’s patience. Finally our name was called, and we were seated.
My youngest brother Dan was born blind, and restaurant outings could be a challenge. It was an unfamiliar space, and any wrong move could cause a problem. He was excited with the new experience and was having a good time. The waitress brought the beverages, and his glass of milk was served. Carefully Dan reached for the milk (he knew where it was) but tipped it with his thumb and over it went. We never made a big deal when an accident like this happened. We cleaned it up with little fanfare. The waitress came over and helped with a new napkin, and Dan got a second glass of milk. Again, the thumb tipped the glass over. Spontaneously we all started to laugh, and Jenny joined in. This was the icebreaker we needed, and the tension melted away. The third glass of milk was a charm. We enjoyed the meal, and everyone was more relaxed. Spilled milk was nothing to us.
There was a feeling of sympathy from my family regarding my orders to Vietnam. It was as if they were saying we’re sorry for your bad luck. I didn’t want to walk around with my head hanging down over this issue. My reaction to this was . . . duty calls. I had made a commitment when I joined the Marines and would honor the pledge I took. There would be no pity party on my behalf and no crying over spilt milk.
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