We also have an occasional Posse drop-in, a Muslim woman from Turkey who at one time taught school to the children of a Kurdish tribe in a remote mountain region of Turkey.
In truth, though, none of us seems to notice, nor have we ever discussed, our group demographics. When we get together we mostly talk about the things women like to talk about when they get together: Our families, our crises, national and world events, politics, our opinions, our new flooring, a new recipe, what we did last weekend, what we're doing next weekend, and, of course, that which bonds all women, the latest, hottest gossip making the rounds.
Yesterday, as it turned out, only three of us made it to the Posse meeting. Maybe it was that our smaller-than-usual number made it possible for all of us to get in a word edgewise and so we were galloping to get in as many words as possible, or maybe it was excitement over national events of the past week, but I sensed that we were talking louder than usual. Or maybe I was just concerned, as I sometimes am when we start tossing about our political opinions, as we were in profusion yesterday, that we might offend the people around us, this time in particular a gent who was sitting alone reading at the table across from ours and who was directly in my line of vision.
He was an older guy, but kind of good-looking. Think Sean Connery. Think Sean Connery in jeans, tee-shirt and a baseball cap.
I kept glancing over to see if he looked annoyed, or anything, but I never noticed him looking up from his book.
At one point I was telling the gals about my nephew's upcoming wedding. First I described for them his off-beat save-the-date, which took me several days to figure out, but which cracked me up once I finally did:
When I said "flaming donut holes" one of my friends almost spit out her salad as she was propelled into an uncontrollable laughing fit that eventually grabbed hold of the other two of us so that here we were, three old ladies at Panera yucking it up loud and long over flaming donut holes.
Even as I laughed I snuck a glance over at our Sean Conneryesque neighbor, but fortunately he appeared to be still calmly engrossed in his book.
Then I kind of forgot about him until half an hour later when he got up and walked over to our table and stopped. The first thing I noticed was that the book he was holding, the one he'd been reading, was a bible commentary. Uh-oh, thought I. Then he began talking.
"This is good," he said with a slight foreign accent, gesturing towards us, "friends sitting together, talking and laughing. This is how it should be. This is how it is in my country."
We asked him where he was from.
"Greece," he replied.
We immediately began sympathizing, asking him if he knew how things were, if he had any family still there.
He told us that yes, his family and many friends were still there and that everybody was suffering, unable to get any money, not knowing how they were going to make it from day to day.
I asked him about the tourist industry these days and he replied that tourism was his country's biggest source of income but that as a result of the economic crisis tourism had fallen off. "It's terrible," he said sadly.
"But," he continued, "seeing you friends sitting in a cafe enjoying life, this brings me back to Greece. That's how it is there all the time. We need more of this here, and everywhere."
Then he wished us a nice day, we wished him one back, and he left.
And we sat there for a while longer, trying to figure out what to do about Greece, among other things.