Have you ever had cold chills over something unpleasant that nearly happened but didn’t quite?
I call it having an “almost.”
This one happened some 50 or 60 years ago. I was working in a school of music in downtown Chicago, commuting from home, some 20 miles from home to work.
One of the students invited me to her home for dinner. I went home, and got ready. My mother and I agreed that since it was a dinner invitation, it would be inappropriate for me to eat before going to the dinner.
I caught the interurban, went to the proper stop, walked the few blocks to her house and knocked.
She came to the door and exclaimed, “Elizabeth, you’re on time! Come in.” A little surprised at such a greeting, I did.
Other people began to arrive, and presently there was a congenial group. But no sign of food.
The evening wore on, and presently I realized that it was almost time for the last train. Making my excuses to the hostess, I left to walk to the train stop.
For a time I had the feeling I was being followed.
Arrival at the train stop ended that. I reached the station platform to see the light of my train just approaching that stop. With a gasp of relief, I got on. My mother gave me something to eat.
I never got an explanation for the dinner that wasn’t, and the student and I have not kept in touch. I do not even know if she is still alive.
Now, we jump many decades and half a continent to Okanogan County. Here people do not invite others to dinner and then forget it.
They feed them when they have not been invited. There are people who, if you drop in for a visit, won’t let you go until they have offered refreshments. It’s sort of like having to eat your way out.
And since there are wonderful cooks hereabout, this is a great pleasure. I think they would be horrified at not giving a guest something to eat after a visit. And it’s delicious. As I said, they are fine cooks.
It’s one of the tenets of the code of hospitality out here, and there are no frightening almosts, of the kind here described, in visiting friends here.
Elizabeth Widel is a columnist for The Chronicle. This is the 2,885th column in a series. She may be reached at 509-826-1110.