Henry, a man over 65 and his 60ish wife, Stella, are sitting at a table for two in a restaurant talking.
Henry looks at Stella and says, “God, I remember when I could get a cup of coffee for fifty cents”.
“Yeah, and I remember when I could get into a skirt with a 24 waistline. Those days are gone …long gone,” his wife replies.
The waiter, a young guy who looks fresh out of college, arrives and stands by their table and asks, “Do you folks need more time. We have some specials for seniors”.
“Seniors? “ Henry says scoffingly.
“Yes, a menu for seniors — people over 60”.
Stella looks at the waiter. “Forgive my husband. We need more time. Thanks.”
“Ok … take your time.”
“Specials for seniors. I’m sure they’re only available between 4 and 6:30 pm. You know what irks me? They treat so-called seniors like kids — like we are on the verge of dementia. A senior menu – just like the kids except no chicken fingers but with a Metamucil cocktail”.
“Honey, don’t get so intense.”
“Intensity keeps my heart pumping — keeps me alive.”
“You could probably use that Metamucil cocktail, come to think of it,” she looks at him and grins, “Your full of it anyway.”
“Well, I get tired of the BS — the phony respect our society gives to old people — like us!,” He pauses, “I’d like to kick the jerk who came up with ‘Golden Years’ right in the …”
“… Henry, don’t say it! You take things too seriously. Let’s just have a nice dinner.”
“Yeah, I suppose you want me to be more politically correct! More hip … like that couple over there exercising their thumbs on their smart phones … dummies using smart phones”.
“Come on, the younger generation is smarter than we were at that age … or are now, with all the technology and all?” Stella says.
“You got to be kidding! If that guy over there with the smart phone had any brains, he’d pay attention to the girl he’s with.“ He laughs. “But she’s busy texting too. They don’t even know what’s happening — it’s all hedonistic, egoism. And it’s our fault. We spoiled them when they were kids making them think they are so special. They’re the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ generation. Pampered … wimps”.
“Boy, that’s an over-simplication.”
“Listen. They probably don’t even know who Harry Truman was. But Lady Gaga — hey… they’re tuned in.”
The waiter comes back to the table, “Are you ready now? Sorry if I offended you earlier. I have a grandfather who I am close to — he was born in 1942. I love him. He’s still pretty agile for his age”.
“That’s when I was born”, Henry blurted out.
“Wow, you were alive when Harry Truman was president? You’re really in great shape. I would never have guessed you were that old.”
“No … we need more time please,” Stella mumbles. The waiter turns on his heel and leaves.
“You really have to let things go. You can’t even let go of middle age, no less youth. You are in transition to a different phase — a contemplative and maybe creative — phase of life,” she advises.
He looks at her incredulously, “Transition?”
“Geez, Henry, for a smart guy, sometimes you’re really dense. You just don’t get it.
Life is nothing more than a series of transitions. They don’t happen like lightning striking — over night — there’s a subtle rhythm to them. They just unfold quietly. I’m not what I used to be either, you know.”
“Hey, we’re not bad for ‘old farts’. There aren’t any young farts, are there? Why is that? Why only ‘old’?”
“What kind of question …?,”
“Euphemisms. Think about the ones for old people. They’re not very positive. Maybe because growing old reminds people that there is an end. It’s called death — the ‘big sleep’, the ‘last round-up’, ‘bought the farm’, ‘dirt nap’, ‘croak’, ‘check out’, ‘kick the bucket’”.
“God, Henry … you’re really upbeat.”
“Think about how society looks at older people. They use euphemisms, just like they do for death. Think about it — senior moments, curmudgeons, coots, geezers, grumpie, fogie, biddy, gaffer… or how about, hag, ninny or biddy?”
“OK, OK .. God, Henry, when you get on something, you go overboard,” Stella shook her head.
“Oh, I…am…sorry,” Henry said a bit teasingly. “I remember someone looking in the mirror and wondering where those wrinkles — oops, I mean, “expression lines’ — came from so suddenly. Want a discussion on liver spots?”
“Ok … Ok… you got me. Sure, things change, but you have to accept it or else you’ll drive yourself crazy.”
“I guess so. But my brain and my face don’t square. What I think I look like and what I see in the mirror are two different things. I wonder who that is. I sometimes startle myself.”
“Yeah, but look at the great times we’ve had,” Stella smiled.
“Yeah, we have, but … but I thought physicists think time is an illusion. Relativity, you know.”
“God, Henry, give it up. Let’s order. I’m hungry. Maybe we should get those “senior” portions so you can control your “jelly belly’ as your grandkids call it,” she said laughing.
“Yeah, let’s order. Let’s get that waiter’s attention. The young punk … junior over there … the whippersnapper … the hip one.”