Table Or Booth?

“…We’ll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I, face to face.”
(1977) “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” Composer and Recorded By: Billy Joel

When Tabitha, my oldest daughter, landed her very first job, it was at a Perkins Restaurant in Williamsville, New York. All of 16, she was ready to make some part-time cash. I was so proud of her. Holding menus each night in her arms, her first words were, “How many in your party? Table or booth?”

If life’s decisions were just that simple, wouldn’t that be nice?

Table or booth for you? Which way do you go? Better yet, what’s more interesting might be why you choose a table or booth.

From the time I was a toddler, I always preferred a booth. It never changed. One of my favorite places in Dallas, Texas was an Italian eatery called, “Caruso’s”. It was a cozy little place, filled with candlelight. Although it closed down long ago, it was well known for their singing waiters. I auditioned there myself back in those times. Caruso’s was a great place for a day job for opera performers and club singers. There was another thing I loved about the place, their booths with privacy doors. Not every booth was equipped with the saloon-style swinging doors, some were simple stall-style doors, but I always asked for it. My dates considered them wow factors. And if someone wanted to pop the question at Caruso’s over a plate of Chicken Alfredo with a glass of Blue Nun, the booth doors were the romantic choice.

For me, the booth was indeed more private. After all, you had a wall on one side, not another table of onlooker diners. Also, the back of the booth conceals who you are with, what you’re eating, and how you hold your fork and knife. As early as I can remember, I loved sitting next to the wall with another person sitting next to me by the isle. What’s worse, sitting on the stool at the counter. Thinking back, I know why I leaned this way.

One of my favorite diners, Rainbow Cafe, Carrollton, Texas.

If I count the first nine months prior to birth, I spent almost three years experiencing evil. My early days were laced with hearing, seeing, and feeling emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. My teenage father was a rapist, an adulterer, and a violent, mentally ill raging alcoholic. The violence not only targeted my mom, but also toward me in my infancy. His parents warned my mom’s parents that he might try to end my life in the crib. I could tell you much more, but I will leave it at that. By the time the divorce was finalized, I was a three year old, living with my mom’s parents in a peaceful, sheltering home. They always were a haven for this lad.

My beloved grandparents in the 1980’s, Martin and Opal Atherton.

So, whenever we went out for a meal, I felt so secure next to my mom, or my granddad with a wall next to me. My guess is, violence must have erupted a lot around the dinner table in our home. It’s funny how even to this day, deep inside, I want to be next to the wall in a booth.

So, yes, “A booth for two, please.”

My middle daughter’s old band, Dirty Smile.

Earlier in the autumn, September/October, the Jewish community celebrates, “Sukkot”, commonly called, “The Feast of (Huts) Booths”. It is also entitled, “The Feast of Tabernacles”. The festival commemorates the days of protection God gave the Jews in the desert after the historical escape from Egyptian slavery. You might say it’s a bit like a Thanksgiving holiday. It was God’s idea. You can find more about it in Leviticus 23, and a few other passages. One might see it today as camping out. They were to set aside a week to live in small makeshift, temporary three-sided shelters where the family lived, ate, and slept guarded from the brutal desert sun, cold nights, and scorching winds. In modern times, depending on what’s available, many build them in backyards, or apartment patios, or balconies, out of plywood, and/or lattice work, vine branches and/or palm leaves. It became known as a time when God sheltered intimately with the family, as He would “Tabernacle, or hut with them”.

It seems to me, after a long scathing, often times brutal election year, I need God to hut with me. I want to be soothed in my booth, with my body touching the wall while the Ancient Of Days, the One Who is always at the helm, sits next to me. On the other side is the isle of tabled onlookers. Until I’ve left this place to sit at His table, it’s what I need.

So let me say again, “Booth for two, please.”

When searching for a strong, and very permanent shelter, fill-up with fuel for the race.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20 (World English Bible)

21 Replies to “Table Or Booth?”

  1. I have always said if I were Jewish Tabernacles would be my least favorite. I absolutely hate tenting! However, what you say is amazing, I want to be in a booth with the Ancient of Days. I am so thankful that He invites and allows us into His Presence. Alan, love, prayers and blessings to you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My granddaughters and I are studying and memorizing Psalm 91. We have been focusing on a verse a day, talking about seeking shelter in the Most High, finding refuge under His wings. Now that you mention it, what a good theme for this year.
    “if you make the Most High your dwelling,
    even the Lord, who is my Refuge,
    then no harm will befall you;
    no disaster will come ear your tent.” (vs 9 &10)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Alan your writing is so captivating, your personal stories draw me in. In this one, I did not anticipate where the story was going to take us spiritually – a nice surprise. I love the way you brought it around full circle to play off the beginning. What joy to be able to “dine with HIM.” I will go where HE goes.

    Table or booth? Being short in stature, I prefer a table because in a booth I usually have to sit on the edge of the seat. If I scoot back to use the backrest there is a big chasm between me and the table and my feet dangle like a child. With a chair at a table, I can scoot the chair to a comfortable spacing and have my feet on the floor. But I do love the privacy of a booth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. What a wonderful comforting truth drawn out of such a heartbreaking but beautifully told story. I similarly prefer booths. There is something solid and less exposed in them, though I admit I cannot be the one inside-I need my means of escape (that old pesky claustrophobia thing again, which I have pinpointed to when my mother’s “punishments” included hold me down on the bed.). Blessedly, I never feel that need to escape from the Lord! He is ever the gracious companion, always ready to dine with me! Thank you for this lovely post! Blessings, dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was beautiful and something I really need to read and here. This is going to sound so strange but we have a tiny bathroom downstairs with just a sink and toilet and when I feel stressed I like to go in there and shut the door and turn on the fan and hide. I feel safe and sheltered there. In the bathroom. It’s weird. I know. It is even weirder because I usually do not like small, closed spaces, but maybe it’s because I know I can open the door any time I want to and leave. This week I hid in that bathroom a lot more than usual, trying to get the world to even out around me. The world didn’t, but with a lot of prayer for His peace, my emotions have started to even out instead. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very compelling!! I’m sorry for your hardships growing up but what a beautiful outlook you always have when sharing your stories.

    Your post “wow’s” me, Alan, because there’s a group of sweet Christian ladies that often times (on any given evening) we find ourselves at a local Mexican restaurant..always sitting in a booth!! For me I always choose to sit on the inside and facing away from the restaurants entry way. My purpose in that is because I want to focus on my sweet friends and not other restaurant go-ers, I don’t want the distraction otherwise. And maybe my mindset is flawed because as a Christ-follower I know I need to give attention to others outside my group BUT in those ‘dining moments’ with my friends they bring so much Jesus to the table and it’s such a sweet time of Christian encouragement, laughter, and to feel His presence, without any other interruption.
    Reading your choice and thoughts is inspiring to me, knowing that those “closed off” booths aren’t a bad thing…no guilt needed…they allow the opportunity to refuel and focus and to feel the closeness of His peace and protection so that when we go out into the world we’re refreshed and bold for His glory!

    Liked by 1 person

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