Billy Coffey - The Dinner

Ha! Surprised you! Didn't think I'd be waiting for you today, did you?

I'm here, and so glad to be here with you. You really bless me by visiting. It can get lonely around here...but who am I telling? I've left you all for too long.

I'm back (it's a good thing, really!)

If you've been visiting here for any amount of time, you know I have my favorite guests. But I also have my favorite favorites!

One of them is Billy Coffey. 

Billy has one of the best blogs in all of cyberspace, because he's one of the best storytellers this century. I believe that. I truly do.

With life being a little crazy lately, our friend Billy has given me permission to share with you some of the past posts from his blog. Today, I'm going to give you the entire post, but in the future--because I want you to get to know my friend Billy--he'll become your friend if he's not already! I'll post a tasty morsel of his writing and a link so we can hop over to his site (which you'll enjoy very much) to read the rest. But today, just sit back and sip from your cup while your heart drinks in Billy's writing.

Before we get into Billy's post, I want to share about his book Snow Day coming out in October 2010. I hope you'll order your copy, or ask your library to order a copy that you can borrow. Or you can get yourself a copy and ask the library to have one on their shelf. Then, after you discover that you like or love the book, talk about it. A lot. Talk to friends, talk to strangers, coworkers and people at church. But only if you like it. Or love it. I think you will.

Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. 

Sounds good, doesn't it? I can't wait to read Snow Day. Let's dig into Billy's gift to us, this was a post I really enjoyed last year.

The Dinner

May 12, 2009 by Billy Coffey

The local Outback Steakhouse is Nirvana to the steak-and-potato sort, of which I am a card carrying member. 

It is also a favorite for teenagers on their first date, like the couple who was seated in the booth beside ours last week. Bad for them, maybe, but good for us. It’s not often that regular folks like my wife and I get both a dinner and a movie at the same time.

Sixteenish boy and very nervous, trying in vain to impress his classy date and not doing very well at it:

“Sit me first,” she said.

“Okay,” he answered.

“Do I look nice?”


“Tell me I look nice.”

“You look nice.”

“Mean it.”
You look nice.” 

“That’ll do,” she says. (He breaths a sigh of relief. This is much harder than he thought it would be.) 

“Now, I order first, then you. Don’t order for me, though. Some ladies like that. I don’t. Did you bring enough money to pay for my food?”

Silence. Then his confession: “I thought you’d pay for your own.”

“No,” came the exasperated answer. “NO. You pay. Always.”


“Sit up straight. Don’t fidget. Look me in the eyes. Smile.”


“You’re going to pray, right?” his date asked.

“Um. I dunno. Should I?”

“You’d better,”

And on it went. 

I felt sorry for that young man, I really did. He thought dating would be natural. Take a girl out, have some fun, maybe dinner or a movie, and then drive her home. No fuss, no muss. How hard could it be? From the small beads of sweat on his forehead, plenty hard. His date was demanding. She offered little in the way of praise and much in the way of criticism. He was confused, frightened, and unsure of himself. All because of her. Why had he agreed to take her out in the first place? he wondered. And even asked. But she merely smiled and winked and said it was the only way he’d ever be allowed to take anyone else out ever.

He knew she was right, and so did I. She had all the power, you see. She’d had it for about sixteen years now.

Because his date, this unimpressed, hard, stringent lady, was his mother.

I manage to get the backstory when her son excused himself to the bathroom. Presumably to flush himself down the toilet, which also happened to be right where his evening is headed.

He’s a good boy, according to his mother. Always has been. And she wanted to keep him that way, too. But he’d gotten to that age when children began to feel a little too sure of themselves. Their world brightened and grew bigger, and they were under the impression that they were growing brighter and bigger right along with it. It was easy to get muddled and begin thinking they were in charge. That it was all about them.

So, mother and father decided that before they would allow their son to start dating, he would do a trial run with mom. It’s important that he knows how to treat a lady, she said. And it’s important to know how to spot one, too.

“Understand?” she asked.


We pass onto our children what we consider to be the necessities of crafting a good life—the attributes of honesty and hard work, the values of education and faith. But too often what’s left out is the most basic necessity of them all: how to behave when mom and dad aren’t around.

Too many of us mourn the fact that today’s younger generation is so over-the-top rude. Too few of us take the time to consider the fact that much of the fault is our own. It was nice to see a parent put forth just as much effort to ensure her child got into the right life than she would to ensure her child got into the right college.

Education can get you far in life. Good manners can get you further.

Still, I couldn’t help but express my empathy for the young man.

“This has to be the longest night of his life,” I said.

“Oh, don’t feel sorry for him,” she smiled. “Feel sorry for his sister. She’s fifteen, and her first date is next year. With her father.”

You know you want to visit Billy. Just click those ruby red shoes three times--or, if you forgot those, just click here.  

And thanks for dropping in. We'll meet again on Friday. xoxo!


Ginny said...

Billy's the best! You introduced me to him a while back and for that a BIG thanks. :)

I like the idea of being the first date for your kids...mine are all adults now, so I'm tucking this idea away for my grandkids. LOL. Talk about the mother’s last line, more lol. You should, "feel sorry for my grandkids!"

Tina, thank you for being so generous with your love, your friends, and your time.

Tina Dee Books said...

Can he tell a story, or what?!

Love it. I'm excited for him as a writer, but also for his readers. His book will be a treat!

A J Hawke said...

Hi Tina,
A great Billy Coffey blog post.
I'm passing it on to friends.

I have Billy's book, Snow Day, on my list for October.

Thanks for sharing it.

A J Hawke