What is one meant to expect when they arrive at the town of their late grandparents? Wary looks and apprehension? Fond looks and embraces? Stories of your grandparents and condolences? Or perhaps, a mix of them all.
What one would definitely not expect is to hear a veritable stranger call, “You look like pie face.”
You turn around to look at the person and wonder if they are speaking to you. But why would they say ‘you look like pie face?’ Of course, it was possible that you misheard them, but what else could they have said, “You look like my face” or “You look like John Space?” But who even was John Space, that you apparently look like him?
You don’t ponder the strange person’s words anymore and continue towards your grandparents’ house. As you near the house, you notice a café and decide to stop on the way.
You enter into the building and inhale the scent of muffins and scones. Two people are sitting inside the café, one is an old man reading a newspaper, and the other is a young lady who is sitting at a table with a coffee and a laptop. They both look up as you walk in and curiosity lights on their face.
You feel slightly uncomfortable under their looks, but you had already expected them, especially with the knowledge that you are a newcomer and this is a small town.
You walk up to the counter and look at all the baked goodies on display. You are deciding between a scone and a bagel, when someone walks up to the counter.
“Would you like a slice of pie, or perhaps a whole pie?” The person, someone who works at the café, says the words with a hint of humor in their voice.
You look up. What was the big deal about pie? But you still nod. “A piece of pie would be nice.”
The server nods and smiles. “Why don’t you take a seat and your pie will be brought to you momentarily.”
You nod and move across the room to take a seat in the back. A few moments later, they return with not a slice, but a whole pie. “Here, you are.”
“Umm, would you by chance provide me with a plate and some utensils?”
The server looks disappointed by your words, as do the other two people in the room. You are more than confused by this. “You don’t want the whole pie?” she asks.
You laugh kind of awkwardly. “I don’t think I could eat a whole pie. Besides, I must be getting over to my grandparents’ house soon.”
The old man crinkles his newspaper. “Pie face could.”
The server turns to the man and smiles affectionately. “Oh, Bill quiet down. We don’t want to scare away our newcomer.”
Bill grunts and turns back to his newspaper.
The server turns around and goes to grab the things you need. Moments later, they return with not one but two plates.
You wonder why they bring two, but don’t wonder for long because they sit down across from you and begin cutting the pie. “You don’t mind if I share some of this pie with you, do you?”
You want kind of to eat by yourself, but you were raised to be polite so you shake your head. “Company would be fine.”
The server nods and then places a piece of pie on both of the plates. “So, you are Don and Janice’s grandson.” It is said as a statement rather than a question.
You nod and slice a bite of pie with your fork. “Yes, I am. I have come to help arrange the transfer of their things.”
The server watches you closely. “They were very good people. We all still mourn their passing. They were a unique pair. There were none like them.”
You nod. You did not spend that much time with your grandparents, but from the time you spent with them you realized that they were very special people. It appeared that a good deal of the townspeople here felt that way as well.
The server tells you all about the town and your grandparents while you eat you your pie. She mentions the different shops and the various people. She mentions what your grandparents once did in the town. She speaks about the events that take place in their small town, and the other two guests add in words here and there.
You mostly listen, but occasionally you answer a question. As you listen, you feel both happy and sad. Happy about all the lovely memories you hear from them, but sad that you did not get better acquainted with them before they both passed.
You try to change the subject. “I am curious about something.”
The server lays her fork on her plate and turns to you. “What is that? I shall try to answer whatever questions you have.”
You nod. “I heard the mention of ‘pie face’ twice. First by someone when I was walking over here and second by Bill.” You gesture to the man with the newspaper. “Is this something you say to newcomers or is there some significance to this?”
Everyone in the room, but you, laughs at this. You eye them all curiously. “What?”
The server smiles and wipes tears from her eyes, all while trying to calm herself. “Well, son. Around here, your grandfather was known as pie face.”
You raise your brows. “Is that some sort of insult?”
“No, it is, well its kind of a long story.”
You check your invisible watch. “I’ve got time.”
She cuts another slice of pie for each of them and then begins telling the story. “Your grandfather always participated in some part of our fair. Well, on this particular time, he was asked to do the pie eating contest. He was reluctant to do it, but your grandmother wanted him to do it, so he did. Well, let me tell you, it was quite a sight. By the time he was done, his whole face and some of his hair was covered in strawberry filling. But he won. After that, he participated it the pie eating contest and won every time. Your grandmother called him pie face, and after that, everyone just adopted the name.”
Everyone laughs, and this time you join in. “Wow, to think that is what he is remembered for. Somehow though, I think he would be pleased to be remembered this way.”