Thomas Bates didn’t like variety. He worked at the same job for forty-five years, and whenever a new worker tried to call him Tom, Thomas set the fellow straight. “Name’s Thomas. Always has been, always will be.”

After Thomas’s reluctant retirement, Marsha, put meals on the table at the same times every day, and they ate a revolving menu that never varied from week to week. Bedtime, rising, chores, outings, golf—always at the same times and same places, year after year. Whenever one of their television shows was cancelled or changed time slots, it took Thomas half the season to adjust.

Every weekend since their two children had left home and moved to different states, they’d eaten with the Millers, their next-door neighbors, on Saturday nights, alternating weekends at each house. If a holiday or the Millers’ vacation interrupted the schedule, Marsha set the table for four and made a toast to their missing guests. And then—tragedy. Their good dinner buddies, also retired people, pulled up stakes and moved to a retirement villa in Florida. Thomas was… Well, you can imagine.

The Millers called, e-mailed, and sent cards inviting Thomas and Marsha to visit. “It’s green and warm, and there are lovely places to visit. We’ll take you to our favorite lunch spot, right on the beach, for seafood,” they said.

Whenever Marsha showed him the invitations or brought up the subject of visiting their very best friends, Thomas shook his head as if repelling a pesky mosquito. But every Saturday evening he sat at the table with such a forlorn look on his face that Marsha made plans on her own. She purchased airline tickets and arranged the visit with the Millers. Her husband couldn’t refuse to go. Part of his routine involved never wasting money.

Thomas spent a whole week sleeping in a strange bed, eating new cuisine, and experiencing new places. The four friends dipped their feet in the ocean, ate key lime pie during the afternoon, saw an amazing sea turtle, and laughed a lot.  sea turtle

On the Saturday evening after their return from Florida, Marsha made dinner and set the table in their accustomed way. Thomas frowned when he looked at the extra table settings.

“We should ask the new neighbors over one night,” he said. “After all, we deserve a little variety in life.”

Florida life



About Joyce Ann Brown

Freelance writer retired from a long career as a library media specialist, adventurer, reader, lover of all things spunky. Besides hiking K.C. trails weekly, I currently write for publications and write cozy mysteries. Find Catastrophic Connections and Furtive Investigation on Amazon.
This entry was posted in My Writing, Retirement stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to V—Variety

  1. Liz Brownlee says:

    Lovely,~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com really enjoyed that… but became very confused as you change Thomas (who is fussy about his name) to Tomas and back again… i thought it was someone else! Lol.


  2. elainefaber4u says:

    Loved your story. Reminded me of a story I read about an old couple who never visited their son because they were too busy taking care of their cat (or dog..can’t remember). Then the pet died and they planned to visit their son.. After all plans were made, tickets bought, suitcases packed, another cat wandered in… and they became so obsessed with the cat, they canceled the trip to the son… Your gentlemen was able to change being set in his ways, so good for him. We must be flexible to fully enjoy life. Thanks for sharing.


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