Are you a single person with friends who are couples? Or are you one of those that once soloed, you were left to fend for yourself? This is how one group of couples friends helped keep my lifeboat afloat.
Now that I am no longer a couple, I have more couples friends than ever!! How can that be? Or maybe it is that I recognize them as couples now that I am not and took them for granted before. My best friends and support circle here at the lake is a group of couples that I met when Scot and I were first establishing ourselves as residents.
Our neighbor, the couple who sold us our lake place, invited us to a Monday night outing that they referred to as Buck Burgers. The Leaf Valley Mercantile Monday night special began as a $1 burger which evolved into a $2.50 burger, but the name remained. Scot and I joined in to this boisterous, happy group ranging from four couples to as high as eight or nine. The women always sat at one table, the men at another. In my corporate days I would have balked at this arrangement, but I was a semi-retired old person and my boundaries were moveable.
We had attended this group only a year or so when he passed away. Those first weeks of widowhood were excruciating. It wasn’t only about losing a spouse, but also re-engaging into my old life without an appendage. In many ways it reminded me of when I had cancer. No one know whether or how to address the big C. It was the same being a widow early on. Most people know that a simple acknowledgement is appreciated. The first Buck Burger night I went to solo was tough. My neighbors and I drove together, and they knew it had to be hard. I could feel the sympathy emanating from every couple in the group that night. I was thankful I only had to face the women when I sat down.
But the first night turned into the second, and then the third. We fell into the old rhythm. And then two couples invited me to a gourmet dinner held by a local restaurant. One of the women had been widowed herself, and she and her husband convinced me it would be OK to join them. There were two couples that night, and they made me feel welcomed and comfortable. I had the chance to get to know the husbands in a way our separate tables at Buck Burgers didn’t allow. I had a wonderful time, and I think they did, too.
Last summer, back when we could socialize face-to-face, they cajoled me to invite everyone over to see my cabin makeover. We had a lovely potluck and cooked burgers over the firepit. Men and women, socializing together.
Since Covid, our Monday nights at Leaf Valley have been truncated, but our meetings continue via Zoom. It was this group that made me realize that sheltering in place for them meant the only person they had touched in months was their partner, for me it meant I hadn’t touched another person at all. They became my family for the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays, the few of us that did not go south holding a food exchange for the holidays, meeting at the Leaf Valley parking lot to share our bounty. I ate the delicacies alone, but thought about each one of them as I ate their contribution.
I have heard of friendships that have ended after a divorce or death. That definitely didn’t happen with my Buck Burger circle. Our friendships have deepened. I may be the “odd man out” but they have made me feel a “part of the team” in spite of being different.
All because of a $2.50 burger.