Light and Shadow

It had been a busy day of errands and a doctor’s appointment, and we decided to have dinner out. The restaurant we chose is an unpretentious storefront place in a strip mall in Goleta, but we like it fine. We placed our orders at the counter and chose a table outside, because the afternoon light was beautiful and golden. It was early for dinner, and the tables around us were empty, and although the parking lot was busy, we had a pleasant sense of being separate from all the comings and goings.

Looking back through the glass door of our restaurant, we could see a square of sunlight on the wall inside. I held up my hands and formed a wolf with snapping jaw, and there it was, projected crisp and clear, an animated feature in black and white.

“Remember doing that?” I asked Monte. Back in the Brooklyn days, my brother Eddie and I had a patch of light on the wall of the bedroom we shared, and we were big on shadow games. (Oh, there’s that pang of missing Eddie, a different sort of shadow.)

But this was a happy childhood memory, and I was surprised how readily my little repertoire returned. I linked my thumbs and formed a beautiful bird with outstretched finger-wings. Not to be outdone, Monte proceeded to make a shadow-shape of his own. “What is it?” I asked. “An animal,” he said vaguely, pointing out an ear. We laughed. Then the wolf attacked.

Dinner came, and it was quite satisfactory, and I thought how delightful it can be, eating dinner by a parking lot with someone you love. Who needs Paris?

An elderly couple walked out of the restaurant and came over to our table. “I just wanted to tell you we really enjoyed the shadow show,” said the man. “Haven’t seen a movie like that in a good many years.”

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