AT LIDO PAVILION

Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

Noon. Outside, the sun beat on my CRV. Inside, I turned up the AC’s fan as my son, David, and I waited in line for a parking space. Lido Beach, off Sarasota Florida, was jammed. I was third in line and led a train of others watching for someone to leave.

David observed, “This will take a long time.”

I said, “Let’s try a side street.”

Good idea.”

We left the beach and patrolled nearby streets. Bingo! A spot. And only one block away. Cool.

David and I came to this beach every year we visited Anna Maria Island, a key off Bradenton, Florida. Lido’s a white-sanded beauty and also has a large pavillion. The area is close enough for my high school girlfriend, Loni, to drive over for a chat.

David slung our beach bag over his shoulder and we trekked to the pavilion. The area had changing area/restrooms and a snackbar with permanent tables along the patio’s edge. A few orange umbrella-ed seating options decorated a poured cement and stone floor. The tables were peopled, but we got lucky when a family left an umbrella.

“Warm” is how Southern weathermen described the ninety-degree day. I was thankful for a little breeze as I waited for my girlfriend. David and I had met her off and on after she moved to the Sarasota area ten years earlier. He said, “I’m looking forward to seeing Loni again.”

Loni (L) and David at Lido Pavilion

Loni (L) and David at Lido Pavilion

I smiled and thought of my long-time friend. She’s kind, genuinely interested in others and easy to talk to.

Though we grew up in the same small Indiana town, we went to different grade schools. I first met Loni in junior high. She lived down my way and sometimes we walked home together. She interested me.

Loni got good grades, and had an older brother and sister. She played the oboe and piano, and went on dates. When I visited her house, her mom asked, “Do you girls want a Coke?”

Loni and I talked upstairs in her bedroom. She closed the door and played LPs like Stan Kenton and The Four Freshmen. She told of her sister’s doings, and big-town back-to-school shopping. She explained how to to get along with guys. She knows stuff! She always has a date.

When I was seventeen, I got in serious trouble with my parents. I loved a guy they wouldn’t let me see anymore. I turned to Loni. Her parents were out for the evening when I arrived, crying.

Calm down,”she said. “I’ll make you some coffee.”

I wailed, “What’ll I do? What’ll I do?”

While the coffee perked, I poured out my story. She set down a steaming cup for me and I stopped to sip. When I looked up, her face was pale and strained. Her shoulders sagged and she shook her head. “I don’t know, Fritzie. I just don’t know.”

It was the only time she had no help or advice.

After my summer heartbreak, I was lost. That fall, she dated Larry, a guy from another town, and was busy every weekend. She said, “You need to go out with a nice guy.”

The next Saturday, she introduced me to a friend of Larry’s. She smiled, “We’ll double-date. It’ll be fun!”

And, it was. Wendell was a fine fellow. We went out together that winter, but my heart was not mended enough for a relationship.

Another summer, I was often without a date. At that time, Loni was going out with John, from our high school class. Often, on Saturday evening, they drove by my folks’ house and took me out to join them for a root beer.

Later, when I finished college, I wanted to date a “settled guy.” Again, Loni stepped in and introduced me to a friend of her date–a young lawyer. She prepared me to anticipate his needs: refresh his coffee or carry him a drink. I tried to be Miss Doting Date. It was an experience, but that pairing didn’t take wing.

As young adults, life took us separate ways: Loni became an Eastern Airline Stewardess, based in New York and I got a teaching degree. Later, she married and lived on the East Coast, while I married and moved to Michigan. 

Loni (right) and me at Lido Pavilion

Loni (right) and me at Lido Pavilion

No matter our diverse middle years, when we get together now, it’s as though we’re back in her upstairs bedroom, talking about life. Though our attitudes toward life are more wise, our focus remains the same: managing our moods, relationships and how to look our best!

Friendship is a blessing.

Time’s passage does not affect true bonds. 

Frances Fritzie

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