The Old Man Who Taught Me Enough.

I’m boring. I’m outdated. I’m lonely. I complain about it to my husband and whine, “Life used to be more fun!” It’s true. There used to be bar hopping and 3am Denny’s pancakes and unpredictable evenings where new friends were made or old friends were lost. There used to be so many people around all the time and music always playing and exhilaration because energy was in motion. Now there’s a lot of static. Now the most surprising thing that happens is I make humus from scratch. 

We decide to have our own wild night, just he and I. We’ll sit on barstools and imagine what it would be like to work as adventure photographers and gorge on french fries and beer. Stand back, Healthy Dinner. Go away, In Bed By 10pm. Buzz off, Responsibilities, and while I’m at it, up yours, Incessant Yawn. Tonight my husband and I are hanging out at a bar until late, and even though everyone we know is sleeping, we’re going to live it up anyway.

But we’re fading by the time we arrive. We walk in and I see him first, the old man sitting alone. He looks up and smiles, and I silently pray that he’s waiting for somebody. Our table is located within viewing range, how convenient. Nobody comes to join him.

An hour goes by. My eyes are getting heavy. My heart is getting heavy. Both the fries and the beer taste meh. The elderly gentleman has been keeping busy with his cell phone, vodka tonics, a basket of onion rings, and he seems content. Yet my lastima wants to keep him company. Couples and groups pass by, and I wonder aloud again if it would be presumptuous, somehow rude even, to rush over to his table and throw my arms around him. Then he starts to laugh like he’s heard the funniest joke in the world. His wrinkles push back and his wise eyes shrink, and he’s having a party over there!

Maybe he’s just shy. Maybe he’s a widower. Maybe he wanted more than this. Or maybe he is okay. A cocktail and some comedy and the buzz of high spirits surrounding him, and he can look back on his life with fondness, and he can look ahead with a quiet calmness unfolding. Maybe he can just be, exactly where he is, and what would I give to feel that for one minute?

I clutch my husband’s hand. I acknowledge my memories. And then I think, “Enough.” We’ve grooved on plenty. We’re never really alone. Now it’s time go to home and that is good. I thank him as we leave. I believe he knew exactly what for.  

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p.s. How cute is his shirt? That he had style too…kill me. 

p.p.s. He stayed out later than us.